• Patrick Hughes

Great Grandma Cooney's Rhubarb Custard Pie

Everyone has those things that almost instantly transport them back in time to their childhood. For some it might be a photograph, or a place, an old friend or relative. For me it was a dessert. A recipe passed from generation to generation. Great Grandma Cooney’s Rhubarb Custard Pie.

It reminds me of my childhood because up until a few years ago that was the last time my taste buds had been tempted by the sweet treat. That was until a trip to the nursery in which I purchased a rhubarb plant of my own, determined to satisfy my cravings for Great Grandma Cooney’s Rhubarb Custard Pie. When the rhubarb stalks had matured and were ready for harvest I phoned my mother and asked her to go one an Indiana Jones type mission and unearth the lost Rhubarb Custard Pie recipe.

She did so and emailed it to me. I was beyond excited and ready to get baking, ready to find out if my memories would match the reality of the present day taste. As I read over the recipe and made my shopping list it was clear why I liked this so much when I was young, there was a lot of sugar in it. My dentist will love me. Add in some heavy cream and I most certainly better not miss any runs.

I harvested enough rhubarb to cube six cups of it. Then I boiled six cups of water. Next was the beating of the four eggs. This was followed by combining the eggs, three cups of sugar, 4 tablespoons of flour, and 2/3 cup of heavy cream and mixing it together thoroughly. Once the water boiled, I poured it over the six cups of rhubarb I had cubed and placed in a large mixing bowl. This was a new one for me; this step is called blanching the rhubarb. It should be blanched for ten minutes. While the blanching is taking place the oven should be preheated to 450 degrees.

After the rhubarb was blanched I mixed the rhubarb in with the concoction of sugar, eggs, flour and heavy cream. The next part Great Grandma Cooney might roll her eyes at, or see the practicality of the matter. Using two Pillsbury unbaked pie crusts I spread them out on the bottom of a Pam sprayed 9 x 13 baking pan. Not that I have any particular affection for Pillsbury, other than I used a generic version of the pie crusts with less than stellar results. After the crusts are spread I poured into the baking pan the rhubarb fusion of sugary goodness.

With the oven heated to 450 degrees, I placed the Rhubarb Custard Pie into the oven for 10 minutes. This is seemingly important as my mother had enlarged the print and put the type face in bold in the instructions. I guess this is what she does when writing when she can’t raise her voice and I would not be able to notice her theatrical body language to emphasize her point.

After 10 minutes, as instructed I reduced the heat to 350 degrees and baked for another 40 minutes. If the top begins to get overly brown place a sheet of tin foil over the baking pan. To check if the pie is properly done I stuck a fork in it. If the fork comes out clean it’s done. If not let it bake for a few more minutes.

After the pie had cooled came the best part, sampling some. You guessed it, it tasted just like it did when I was knee high to a grasshopper! I love it when a plan comes together.

In later renditions of this recipe I substituted a cup or two of the rhubarb with strawberries and or blueberries and the results were spectacular! Enjoy, I hope Great Grandma Cooney is held in high regard here in Portland and across the nation for her sugary treats!

Recipe for Great Grandma Cooney’s Rhubarb Custard Pie – Step by Step

This is a doubled recipe for a 9x13 pan – for a pie pan—reduce recipe by half.

6 cups of fresh, raw, rhubarb cubed

3 cups of sugar (If you want, you can reduce this by ½ cup, I have and it was fine)

2/3 cup heavy, whipping cream

4 eggs

4 TB Flour

2 unbaked pie shells

I prefer a glass 9x13 pan, but it is not required.

Spray Pam, or oil the bottom of the 9x13 pan. Fit the 2 pie shells into the pan.

Boil about 6 cups of water—place rhubarb in a bowl and pour boiling water over—let sit for 10 minutes and then drain.

Beat eggs. Mix together the heavy cream, beaten eggs, sugar, and flour, mix thoroughly. Add Rhubarb, mix some more, pour into pie crust. Bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for TEN MINUTES. REDUCE HEAT TO 350 DEGREES, bake an additional 40 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. If crust begins to get too brown, cover top with a piece of foil.


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