Baby don’t you cry
Gonna make a pie
Gonna make a pie with a heart in the middle
Baby don’t be blue
Gonna make for you
Gonna make a pie with a heart in the middle.
Gonna be a pie from heaven above
Gonna be filled with strawberry love
Baby don’t you cry
Gonna make a pie
And hold you forever in the middle of my heart.
For the past five years, I’ve wanted to incorporate Waitress, one of my favourite food films, into a blog post but have never found the words or the recipe to translate its sweetness to this site. I’ve had visions of recreating the titular character Jenna’s Marshmallow Mermaid Pie that she brings to her GP, the Peachy Keen tartlets that can make a man fall in love or even I Hate My Husband Pie:
“You take bittersweet chocolate and don’t sweeten it. You make it into a pudding and drown it in caramel.”
I mean, even if dry humour or a sweet, life-affirming message doesn’t sway you to seek it out, then surely the endless montages of Jenna creating trays and trays of pies both colourful in name and in nature should.
I didn’t initially make the connection to Waitress as I made this pie on a rather gloomy Saturday morning. I deliberately kept the kitchen quiet and still, no music or singing or washing machine rumbling. Since last week’s surprise outcome in the referendum, it feels a little like life was washed grey, the news felt bleaker, the headlines harder to swallow and the titbits on social media so disheartening I just needed to switch it all off. And so I made a pie.
I washed, topped and tailed some sticks of rhubarb from my mam’s garden and sliced them into little pink coins, pulled cherry stems from the stones and made a disc of butter-marbled pie dough to house it all in. It was only halfway through I realised I was making something beautiful, the pale pink juices of the fruits macerating in a bowl and the spicy hit of ginger fed through my fingertips as I made the oaty crumble topping. And it made me happy.
As it baked in the oven, the atmosphere in the kitchen felt like it was changing. The skies were still washed in muddy grey and rainclouds threatening lines of washing, but things were starting to feel sweeter in my own little kitchen haven. Blush pink juices bubbled up and onto the tray in a pool of sticky sweetness as I removed it from the oven to cool, and soon my fingers danced over my keyboard to select a little Louis Armstrong to play me back into reality. A few hours later, allowing those ferocious fruit sugars to meld together, I was enjoying a slice of sharp rhubarb, sour cherry and sugary crumble pie curled into the sofa. It didn’t change anything of course, the outside world would be waiting when I was ready, but in that moment I was reminded of Old Joe commenting on Jenna’s Strawberry Oasis Pie in the movie and felt a little happier.
“It could solve all the problems of the world, that pie. It’s a thing of beauty”
- For the pastry
- 180g plain flour
- 1 tbsp sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- 115g cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 60ml buttermilk (alternatively, squeeze a little lemon juice into 60ml of regular milk and leave to stand for a minute to thicken)
- For the crumble
- 40g oats
- 100g caster sugar
- 80g plain flour
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- 60g cold butter, cubed
- For the filling
- 500g rhubarb, washed, top and tailed, and cut into 1cm slices
- 400g cherries, washed, stoned and halved
- 110g caster sugar
- 60g soft light brown sugar
- 25g cornflour
- 2 tbsp lemon juice, and zest
- To make the pastry, put the flour, sugar, salt and ground ginger in a bowl and mix together before adding the butter. Using your fingertips, break down the butter into chunks, as though you were making shortcrust pastry. Don’t rub in the butter too fine, you want the mix to be textured - some bits of butter rubbed in finely with other larger pea sized pieces. Once roughly combined, stir through the buttermilk or homemade buttermilk with a knife and bring together with your hands, adding a little flour if it feels too sticky. Wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge to rest for at least one hour.
- To make the crumble, place the oats, sugar, flour and ginger into a bowl, mix briefly then add the butter. Rub the fat between your fingers to break down the butter until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Set aside.
- To prepare the filling, wash, top and tail the rhubarb stalks and slice into 1cm pieces. Add to a large bowl and then wash the cherries, removing the stones and stalks and cutting each one in half. Add to the bowl along with the sugars, cornflour and lemon juice and stir. Leave to macerate at room temperature.
- Once you are ready to make the pie, dust a clean work surface with flour and roll the pastry into a large circle slightly bigger than your pie tin. I used a 23cm tart tin. Once rolled, carefully lift the pastry into the tin and press down lightly into the corners. Fold the edges outward but inside the tin to create a rounded top, cutting off pieces and sticking them in patchy parts. The pie dough is pretty forgiving, so it's good for patching any broken sides or cracks. Once happy, cover with clingfilm and place the pie in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200oc/180oc fan and remove the pie case from the fridge, removing the clingfilm.
- Add a handful of the crumble to the fruit and stir to soak up any juices then scoop the fruit into the pie case, levelling with a spoon or spatula. Sprinkle over the remaining crumble, covering all of the fruit and place the tin on a tray. Put the pie in the oven on the middle shelf and bake for 20 minutes, reducing the heat to 180oc/160oc fan for a further 45 minutes. Keep checking that the top isn't browning too quickly (cover with tin foil if it is) and bake until the fruit is tender. Once baked, remove from the oven and leave to cool on the tray and in the tin for to to three hours to let the juices settle. Serve with ice cream for pudding or for breakfast with a mug of black coffee.