Strawberry Rhubarb Custard Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb Custard Pie at The Pie Academy

The world of pie is full of pairings, some to the point of cliche, but nobody minds a cliche when it tastes extraordinarily good.

Case in point: strawberry rhubarb pie.

Talk about an attraction between opposites; it’s difficult to imagine a less likely partnership. Fresh ripe strawberries are the crown jewels of spring. We love their sweet, delicate nature and their juicy, farm-fresh goodness.

Rhubarb, on the other hand, is a curmudgeonly old stalk. It comes across as cantankerous and bitter, sharing its name, unsurprisingly, with what Merriam-Webster defines as “a heated dispute or controversy.” We only begin to catch a glimpse of its more likable side with a healthy dose of sugar and heat.

But put these two opposites together and the result is pure alchemy, like the seemingly ill-matched couple whose personalities are at odds but whose chemistry is unmistakeable.

Strawberry Rhubarb Custard Pie at The Pie Academy

We did not grow up with rhubarb in the Haedrich household. My dad was a weekend gardener, but he allocated the space to more conventional offerings – tomatoes, green peppers and the like. I can’t recall my mom ever bringing it home from market or serving a dish with rhubarb in it.

I only took notice when I started to bake as a young man living on my own. I was game for new pie territory to explore but perplexed by the fibrous stalks that looked like red celery, and put off by comments about the leaves containing a poison. (They do. It’s called oxalic acid, the reason you should never eat the leaves. You probably know this if you grow it. If you purchase it, you more than likely will only find the edible stalks.)

And how, I reckoned, could something that had earned the nickname “pie plant” not be worthy of my consideration?

That tentative start gave way to many years of delicious rhubarb pies, baked both solo and with a slew of supporting players from apples to assorted berries.

Strawberry Rhubarb Custard Pie with Graham Cracker Pecan Crust

But it’s hard to argue with a good cliche, and if I had to choose a favorite it would, in fact, be strawberry rhubarb. Top crust, crumb crust? I love both. But blanket the filling in a layer of cool, creamy custard and you’ve got a pie that’s in a league of its own.

Enjoy the pie, and enjoy spring, too. We’ve earned it.

The No-More-Tears Pie Pastry Course

Save the Dates: Registration opens May 13th for the Lowcountry Pie Getaway 2017

So we’ve finally nailed down the dates for this October’s Lowcountry Pie Getaway in Charleston, SC – much to the delight, we suspect, of all you who’ve been emailing us to get more details about this year’s event.

Those dates are Friday, Oct 6th through Sunday, October 8th. It’s Columbus Day weekend, handy timing for anyone who wants to take advantage of the three day weekend.

The Lowcountry Pie Getaway 2016

Sue and Jim elbow to elbow in dough at our 2016 Getaway

The bad news? Registration won’t actually open until May 13th.

I know – some of you are anxious to sign up today and lock it into your calendar. We’re glad for that!

But based on past experience, others need a little time to clear the decks, coordinate a visit with friends or family in the Charleston area, or cruise around online to get a feel for flights, accommodations, and sites to visit. Especially because we expect another full house this year, we want everyone to have an equal chance of making it.

Truth be told, it also gives us a little extra time to finalize the Getaway details and schedule.

While we’re doing that, and especially if you’re a relative newcomer to The Pie Academy, I urge you to read about our previous Charleston Getaways if you want to learn more about the format. (See the links below.)

We do change up the schedule a bit from year to year to keep it fresh and encourage past attendees to come back. (That’s not been a problem, thankfully; we’re like a growing family.) But the overall format has worked so well in past years that we try to keep the classes that have been received particularly well.

So stay tuned, watch your Pie Academy emails, and we hope to see you this fall.

Lowcountry Pie Getaway 2015 post

Lowcountry Pie Getaway 2016 post

Strawberry Rhubarb Custard Pie


  • 8 ounces graham crackers (about 14 whole ones)
  • 1/3 packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup pecan halves or pieces
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup strawberry juice, peach juice or lemonade
  • 2 1/2 cups hulled and halved fresh strawberries
  • 2 1/2 cups thinly sliced rhubarb
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half or milk
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Make the crust: Break up the graham crackers into a food processor. Add the brown sugar, pecans, flour, and salt. Pulse the machine repeatedly until everything is broken into fine crumbs, but not powder fine. Add the melted butter and pulse again until evenly mixed. Empty the mixture into a bowl and press a small handful of it together in your palm. If it doesn't hold together, drizzle in a teaspoon or two of milk and mix well. Spread and press the mixture evenly in the bottom and up the sides of a 9- or 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie pan. Refrigerate for 15 minutes and preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. After 15 minutes, bake the pie shell on the middle oven rack for 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool. Leave the oven on.
  3. Make the filling: Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and juice in a large, heavy-bottomed, non-reactive saucepan or pot. Whisk to combine, then whisk in the juice. Add the strawberries and rhubarb. Very slowly bring to a boil, stirring often. Don't rush this part or the cornstarch will thicken before the fruit starts to juice. When the mixture starts to boil cook for about 1 1/2 minutes, at a gentle boil, stirring nonstop. Remove from the heat and stir in the zest. Transfer the filling to a shallow casserole and set aside to cool for 15 minutes.
  4. Make the custard topping: Combine the sour cream, sugar, half-and-half and flour in a medium size bowl. Whisk well. Add the whole egg, yolk, and vanilla. Whisk until evenly mixed. Spread the fruit filling evenly in the pie shell, smoothing the top with a spoon. Make sure it's good and even. Slowly ladle the custard over the top of the filling, trying not to disturb the fruit. Bake the pie on the center oven rack for 35 to 45 minutes, until the custard appears set. Give the pie a little nudge: the custard should NOT be soupy in the middle.
  5. Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and cool thoroughly. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving, preferably overnight. If you want to cover the pie, use tented foil and wipe off any excess moisture that builds up on the foil so it doesn't drip on the pie. Makes 10 servings.