I know it doesn't even feel like spring yet in these parts, but I'm already gearing up for summer and my favorite summer food group is pie!
Last year I started teaching a class called Pies in July which was a huge success. We're doing it again this year and I can't wait. Recently I've been playing with with various baking fats, experimenting with crusts and tweaking the recipes for the series. I came across some old British recipes that call for suet and started testing recipes.
I am here to tell you - suet is the new butter. It requires an extra step in the food processor, but the resulting crust is super-flavorful and incredibly flakey. Look for the Pies in July series, coming soon to the calendar. And. Try this with your spring rhubarb:
Rhubarb-Fresh Ginger Crostata with Suet-Butter Crust
½ cup beef suet, cut into ½-inch pieces
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 cup all-purpose flour
Fine sea salt
4 to 5 tablespoons cold water
12 ounces rhubarb, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 cup sugar
1½ teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg, beaten with a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon demerara sugar
Make the crust: Place the suet and butter on a tray and freeze until solid, about 1 hour. Grate the frozen suet and butter using a food processor fit with the grater blade. Add the flour and ¼ teaspoon salt to the food processor, pulsing until the fat is mostly combined but still has some small lumps. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the water with a fork, then squeeze a small handful of the dough. If it is crumbly stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of water.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface. Smear the dough with the palm of your hand 3 or 4 times so that if comes together. Pat the dough into a round, then wrap it in plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Roll the dough out on a floured work surface with a floured rolling pin into a 14-inch round. Transfer the dough to a buttered baking sheet.
Toss the rhubarb together with the ginger, sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla, then place on the dough, spreading evenly and leaving a 1½-inch border. Fold the edge of the dough over the filling, overlapping it in places. Brush the edge of the dough with some of the egg, then sprinkle with the demerara sugar.
Bake the crostata until the filling is bubbling and the pastry is golden, 20 to 25 minutes.