Skip to content

Rhubarb Custard Pie


It is hard to keep up with the abundance of late spring and early summer produce. I have so many choices as to what to write about, what recipe to present. The ideas keep coming especially after a long weekend in the Catskills inspired by some of the creative bites. Over the next few weeks I will present some new ideas that have impressed me.

Today I have a recipe I’ve wanted to feature for some time. A rhubarb custard pie is a delightful way to utilize this standard of the old New England gardens. There are different takes on rhubarb pie - with strawberries, blueberries or raspberries, lattice top crust, crumble top crust or top crust. My mom made a rhubarb pie with a sweet custard filling. Prepared without the crust this would be like a clafoutis or a flan. I looked around and found a few recipes for this dish, including my mother’s; most had eggs and sugar with the rhubarb and, in my mind, that doesn’t make a custard. There should be a dairy product such as cream or sour cream to make it a custard filling.

Most fruit pies don’t need to be refrigerated if consumed in a day or two but this does as it contains eggs and dairy. This pie will develop a soggy bottom crust even if kept in the refrigerator for more than a few days for the filling will weep into the crust. I doubt this will be an issue because it will be eaten long before.

Here is a recipe for a 10 inch pie. A bottom crust is all you’ll need. I like a bit thicker crust than most pie recipes that you’ll find and so I have included the one I make for a fruit pie.


Ingredients for the crust:

  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour

  • 2 tablespoons masa or corn flour

  • ¾ teaspoon salt

  • 2 teaspoons sugar

  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted cold butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes

  • 4 to 5 tablespoons ice water

Method for the crust:

  • Place all dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to blend

  • Add the butter cubes and pulse a few times until it reaches a consistency of a coarse meal

  • Drizzle in the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time and pulse after each addition until the dough begins to come together

  • Alternatively, this can all be done by hand with a pastry knife and a bowl up to this point

  • Dump the dough out onto a work surface and form into a disc about 5 inches across. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour if not over night

  • Let the dough rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes before rolling

  • Roll the dough out to about 3 inches larger than the pie pan, then place the rolled dough in the pan and trim and crimp for a decorative edge

  • Refrigerate the pie crust until ready to fill and bake it

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 3 cups fresh rhubarb cut crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces

  • 1 ⅓ cups sugar

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 3 whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • 1 teaspoon orange zest

  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Method for the filling:

  • In a small bowl, blend together the flour, sugar and salt

  • Place the cut rhubarb in a larger bowl and sprinkle in 2 or 3 tablespoons of the flour and sugar mixture and then toss to coat

  • Put the rhubarb in the prepared pie shell and distribute evenly

  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and the heavy cream along with the remaining sugar mixture

  • Pour the cream and egg mixture over the rhubarb

  • Place the pie in a preheated 400 F degree oven and bake for 12 minutes

  • Reduce the heat to 350 F degrees and cook for another 40 minutes

  • The custard should be set even if it seems just a little soft in the middle as it will set more when it cools. But, if in doubt, cook it for a few more minutes or turn the oven off and leave it there for ten minutes or so

  • Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before serving

This pie brings back childhood memories. Whether it is served warm shortly after coming out of the oven or cold from the fridge, it is delicious with the tart tang of the rhubarb offset by the sweet, rich custard. No need for ice cream or whipped cream. This pie is satisfying all on its own.