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Try rhubarb crumble pie, for 'real'

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/6/2012 (1885 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

TWO weeks ago I adapted a Martha Stewart recipe for Cristina White, who was on the hunt for rhubarb crumble pie. Daye Irving wrote in to say, "Not to diss Martha (lol), but here is the 'real' rhubarb crumble pie recipe." Well, we wouldn't dare diss Martha, but we do thank Daye for this terrific version.

Thanks also to Lorraine Palamar, Marion Muldrew and Joan Baird of Regina for responding to a request from Norine Goulet, who lost a recipe for a favourite lemon dessert in a basement flood. Lorraine's version of this dish, which combines a light lemon custard with angel food cake, is from an old Robin Hood cookbook. Joan got her recipe from an Edmonton neighbour, Mrs. Chester Oake, in 1970. This must be a classic recipe because the three versions are almost identical, the only differences being in how the dessert is shaped.

This week Pat Kunderman is hoping somebody has a really straightforward recipe for bread-and-butter pickles, using regular field cucumbers, sweet brine and seeds (and not pickling cukes or a lot of spices). If you can help with a recipe request, have your own request, or a favourite recipe you'd like to share, send an email to, fax it to 697-7412, or write to Recipe Swap, c/o Alison Gillmor, Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6. Please include your first and last name, address and telephone number.


Rhubarb crumble pie

Rhubarb crumble pie

Rhubarb crumble pie

1 22cm (9 in) unbaked pie shell



500 g (1 lb or about 5-6 cups) trimmed rhubarb, sliced

1 egg

250 ml (1 cup) white sugar

30 ml (2 tbsp) all-purpose flour

15 ml (1 tbsp) tapioca

5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla

Crumble topping:

125 ml (1/2 cup) brown sugar, packed

175 m (3/4 cup) all-purpose flour

114 g (1/2 cup) butter, cold and cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 205C (400F). In a medium bowl, beat egg until frothy. Add 250ml (1 cup) sugar, 30 ml (2 tbsp) flour, tapioca and vanilla and stir until combined. Fold in rhubarb. Spoon rhubarb mix into pie shell. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and 175 ml (3/4 cup) flour. Work in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle on top of rhubarb mix. Bake at 205C (400F) for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 175C (350F) and bake for an additional 40 minutes or until crust and topping are brown and filling is bubbling. Let cool and enjoy with ice cream or whipped cream.

Tester's notes: This version has vanilla -- just a bit, but it adds so much -- and I love the rich crumbly topping. This pie was a little sweeter than Martha's (though I was using different rhubarb, which could have an effect). If you prefer tart-tasting rhubarb, you might decrease the sugar slightly. Daye advises putting just a light dusting of cornstarch on the pastry shell before adding the rhubarb mix to keep the pastry from getting soggy.


Lemon custard royale

Lemon custard royale

Lemon custard royale

1 angel food cake

6 egg yolks, beaten

175 ml (3/4 cup) white sugar

175 ml (3/4 cup) lemon juice

7 ml (1 1/2 tsp) grated lemon rind

15 ml (1 tbsp) or 1 envelope unflavoured gelatine

60 ml (1/4 cup) cold water

6 egg whites

175 ml (3/4 cup) white sugar

sweetened whipped cream


Trim crusts from angel food cake and tear cake into medium pieces. Combine egg yolks, 175 ml (3/4 cup) sugar, lemon juice and lemon peel in a double boiler set over hot water or in a very heavy pot over low heat. Cook, stirring often, until mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of a spoon (about 8 minutes). Meanwhile soften gelatine in cold water. Remove lemon mixture from heat and add gelatine mixture. Let cool until partially set. Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add 175 ml (3/4 cup) sugar and beat until stiff. Fold gently into lemon mixture. In a greased 25 cm (10 in) tube pan, alternate layers of cake and lemon custard until there are 3 layers of each. (Don't worry that custard runs between the pieces.) Chill until firm, at least 6 hours or overnight. Run knife tip around edges and centre tube of pan. Unmould onto a serving dish and frost with sweetened whipped cream (if desired).

Tester's notes: OK, I have to confess I bought my angel food cake. (I did make the pastry for the rhubarb pie, though.) Supermarket angel food cakes have been shrinking in the past few years: The first one I bought was only 17 cm (7 in) across, and I had to run out and buy a second one to fill my 25 cm (10 in) tube pan. Still, I think there is some leeway with different cake sizes and different pan sizes, and I don't think the ratio of cake to custard has to be excruciatingly exact. Joan's version is made in a 33 x 22 cm (13 x 9 in) pan, and she places the pieces carefully, while the other recipes let you tear them up and throw them in. I can be a coward about unmoulding big cakes, but this one came out nicely. (If you have a one-piece tube pan, you can dip it in hot water before unmoulding. If you have a tube pan with a removable bottom, just push it up gently. If using a 33 x 22 cm (13 x 9 in) pan, just top with whipped cream and cut pieces from the pan.)

If you like sweeter lemon desserts, Joan's recipe calls for 125 ml (1/2 cup) lemon juice and 60 ml (1/4 cup) water rather than the 175 ml (3/4 cup) of straight lemon juice. I should also point out that Lorraine remembers this as a delicious dessert but has stopped making it because of the uncooked egg whites. (Health Canada now advises against consuming uncooked eggs, and they should not be served to the very young, the elderly, pregnant women or anyone with a compromised immune system. One solution, as Lorraine points out, is to use pasteurized liquid egg whites, which can be found in the egg section of many supermarkets).

Read more by Alison Gillmor.


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