Vintage Rhubarb Custard Meringue Pie

I have a gorgeous crop of rhubarb – that most undemanding and yet giving of plants – in my garden this year.  A bumper crop. The leaves are massive and brilliantly green and the stalks are ruby-red – much redder than they have been in the past. I’m not sure if it was the long cold winter, or the slow, cool spring, but the rhubarb is thriving and I’m busy making use of the bounty.

I’m giving rhubarb away, and freezing it, making jam, and pie, and luscious rhubarb curd. This is the latest pie recipe, which in fact, is a very, very old pie recipe, from The Toronto Cook Book, 1915.

The recipe is one of many going in my new book, Out of Old Ontario Kitchens, due out September 2018!

rhubarb custard pie Toronto Cook Book, 1915

As in many truly old recipes, the instructions are just assumed. I made a few changes to modernize the recipe – such as using 3 cups of chopped rhubarb instead of the 2 cups the recipe calls for. Also – increase the cornstarch to 2 tbsp (or substitute 4 tbsp flour).

Don’t forget to add the butter – it makes a difference to the taste. About 2 tbsp should do the job.

And be sure to add some sugar to the beaten egg whites to make the meringue — ¼ cup should be plenty. Bake the pie at 400°F for 20 minutes then reduce temperature to 325°F and cook for another 20 minutes or until custard is fully set. Then add the meringue, and return the pie to the oven until the meringue is lightly browned. Let the pie cool FULLY before serving. It should stand for several hours before serving. During this time the filling will firm up. It is actually even better the next day even though the meringue might not look quite as glorious.

* A note about handling rhubarb. Don’t soak rhubarb to clean it, as rhubarb absorbs water and this can result in a runny pie. Instead, rinse the rhubarb and thoroughly dry each stalk individually.

 

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