Rhubarb Sponge Pie Recipe

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, June 5, 1911: Mother, Besse and Ruthie flew around today a baking pies and cakes. I thought it be fun to swipe one, but oh, the result.

Rhubarb Sponge Pie

 Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma’s married sister Besse came to help her mother and sister bake pies and cakes. It sounds like Grandma didn’t help—I wonder why. As a 16-year-old, you’d think that she’d be a competent baker (or at least could help with some of the easier tasks). But instead Grandma apparently was clowning around—and swiped a pie—and got into trouble. Whew, what  punishment was referred to as “the result”?

What kinds of pie did they make? My favorite old-fashioned spring pie is Rhubarb Sponge Pie. (I got this recipe from my mother-in-law. However, it is an old-time Pennsylvania recipe—and the Muffly women may have made a similar pie.)

Rhubarb Sponge Pie

3 eggs

3 tablespoons all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

3/4 cup sugar

dash salt

1 cup milk

2 cups rhubarb

9 inch pie shell (see recipe below)

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Beat eggs slightly. Add flour, nutmeg, sugar, and salt; Beat for 1 minute. Add milk and beat until blended. Stir in rhubarb. Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 degrees. Bake (1 – 1  1/2 hours*) until knife inserted into center of pie comes out clean.

*This pie takes a long time to bake. If the rhubarb starts to turn brown (burn) before the center of the pie is solid, reduce heat to 300 degrees.

Any pie pastry recipe—or a pie pastry purchased at the store— can be used to make Rhubarb Sponge Pie. But for a really flakey crust with an absolutely awesome taste, make an old-fashioned pie shell using lard.

I absolutely love the recipe below. At the stores where I shop lard can be surprisingly difficult to find—and I am always searching for it so that I can make really good pies. (Clayton and Elizabeth, thank you for the lard that I used to make the pie in the photo!)

In any case, here’s the recipe:

Old-Fashioned Pie Pastry (1 crust, 9 inch)

 1 cup flour

1/3 cup lard

2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

Put flour into bowl. Cut in shortening  using two knives or a pastry blender. Add water and mix using a fork until dough starts to cling together. If needed, add additional water.

With a little practice it’s easy to cut lard (or shortening) into the flour using two knives. I learned how to do it when I was young and have never felt a need to buy a pastry blender.

Gather dough together in a ball. Flatten into a round circle on lightly floured surface (a floured pastry cloth works well).  Roll dough 2 inches larger than needed to fit pie pan using floured rolling pin. Fold pastry into quarters; unfold and fit into pan.

Trim  edge of pastry 1/2 inch from rim of pan. Flute pastry to create edge by pressing between fingers that are moving in opposite directions.

Fluting pie edge

7 thoughts on “Rhubarb Sponge Pie Recipe

  1. For a long time they thought lard was bad for you, but now they are discovering that some of the things they came up with to replace it were much worse. Lard always made the best pie crust …hands down! Yet here you just can’t find it in any store…

    1. It does make the best crusts! I can’t figure out why it is almost impossible to find these days. Hopefully now that there is more of a realization that it’s better than some of the substitutes, it will become more available.

      1. Well, the problem is there are still a lot of people who are convinced it’s bad for you. Sometimes I wish people would stop fooling around with our natural food.

    2. Our Wegmans in Woodbridge,VA carries lard, as do several of the larger chain stores as well as the ethnic grocers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s