S'Mores Cake, Cinco de Mayo Salad, Court of Honor Eagle Cookies, Upside Down Rhubarb Cake, Bacon and Corn Queso, 65 Mother's Day Gifts...Whew! It's been one event after another, and finally I managed to carve out a few hours with nothing to do, nowhere to go, and no one to talk to. I read a book for a bit, thumbed through a magazine, turned on the TV, then decided I was just too bored...so I headed into the kitchen and made Strawberry-Rhubarb Bars!
This actually should be called a slab pie...because it's one giant slab of pie. Every bit as good as pie, just not as messy and much faster to make. Once the dough is made and refrigerated for an hour, it's rolled out to fit a 9x13-inch pan. Yep, makes enough to feed a crowd! But please make sure your crowd is worthy of flaky pastry that encases fresh strawberries and rhubarb with just enough brown sugar to make lip-smackin' sweet/tart bars!
I will be making these for Memorial Day - they are Holiday good! And if I can still find rhubarb in July I'll be making these for our 4th festivities. The bottom crust is baked before the filling goes in. You can see in the pictures that I lined my pan with parchment paper. I had planned to take the entire thing out of the pan and put onto a pretty serving plate, parchment paper would help me lift it out. But I never got to the pretty plate part! Once the bars were out of the oven, someone decided to have just a little taste and cut into them, that's all it took...they disappeared so fast there wasn't time to put them onto a pretty plate!
The top pastry is brushed with egg then sprinkled with Pearl Sugar - pretty, no? Oh, if only you could have a little whiff - the aroma is heady - when this comes out of the oven, all bubbly and hot - it's enough to make one swoon!
Strawberry-Rhubarb Bars - Pastry Adapted from Food and Wine, May 2015, Filling from Pots and Pins
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
6 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 sticks plus 2 Tablespoons chilled butter, cut into tablespoons
3 large egg yolks
1/3 cup cold whole milk
4 cups rhubarb (about 5 to 6 large stalks) trimmed, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
4 cups strawberries (about 2 lbs.) stems removed, sliced/quartered
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup Minute Tapioca
1Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large egg, beaten
3 tablespoons Pearl Sugar, Turbinado Sugar or Sanding Sugar
Make the pastry: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, combine the flour, sugar and salt and mix at low speed. Add the butter and mix at medium speed until almost incorporated, with some pecan-size pieces remaining, about 1 minute. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the milk. With the machine on, drizzle the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix until the pastry just starts to come together, about 30 seconds: it will be crumbly. Scrape the pastry onto the lightly floured work surface and gather it together. Gently knead the pastry two or three times, just to work in the butter a bit, but having bigger pieces of butter makes for a flakier crust so don't mash it all up! Form the pastry into a 1-inch thick disk, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish. Cut 1/3 of the pastry off the disk. On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the smaller piece of pastry to a 9x13-inch rectangle; transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and refrigerate. Roll out the remaining piece of pastry into a 12x16-inch rectangle, about 1/4-inch thick. (Set your baking dish on top of the pastry to get a good idea of how big to make it - you want the pastry to come up the sides.) Ease the pastry into the prepared pan, pressing it into the corners and up the sides; trim the excess pastry, leaving no overhang. Line the pastry with parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Bake for about 30 minutes, until just pale golden and set. Remove the pie weights and parchment paper, transfer the pan to a rack and let the crust cool completely.
Make the filling: In a large bowl, combine rhubarb, strawberries, sugars, lemon juice, tapioca, corn starch and salt. Mix to coat. Pour mixture into the cooled pie crust. Dot the fruit with the butter pieces. Cover the filling with the chilled 9x13-inch piece of pastry crust, gently pressing it down around the edges. Brush the top of the pastry with the beaten egg and sprinkle with Pearl Sugar or Sanding Sugar. Using a sharp knife, make six 2-inch long slits in the top pastry. Bake for about 50 minutes, until the crust is deep golden. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool, at least 3 hours. Cut into bars, serves about 20.