Rhubarb Cherry Pie with a flaky butter crust filled with juicy tart fruit is the perfect Spring or Summer dessert.
Our quick & easy Swedish Cherry Rhubarb Pie recipe features a flaky homemade pie crust and filling prepared with chopped rhubarb and sour cherries.
We love serving this sweet Scandinavian pie at spring or summer potlucks, Mother’s Day, family barbecues or birthdays. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream, scoop of vanilla ice cream or berry gelato.
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Rhubarb History & Uses
Rhubarb has been around forever, thank the Lord!
First known in Asia around 2700 BC and introduced to Europe around the 14th century, rhubarb was once a highly valuable commodity costing more than rare spices like saffron and cinnamon, and valued for its laxative qualities, common knowledge in Shakespearean times: “What rhubarb, cyme, or what purgative drug, Would scour these English hence?” growled Macbeth. He was talking about the roots; it would be another couple of centuries before home cooks started using the stalks.
Scandinavian cooks love cooking and baking with rhubarb. The fibrous stalks are typically harvested in Europe and North America in the late Spring and early Summer. In Sweden the tart fruit can be found in many culinary treats including jams, jellies, pies, cakes, ice cream and sparkling cider.
Way back when, a common and affordable sweet for children in parts of the United Kingdom and Sweden was a tender stick of rhubarb, dipped in sugar. It is still eaten this way in Finland, Norway, Canada, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Faroe Islands and Sweden.
Rhubarb as a central ingredient mostly shows up in desserts like pies, crumbles and crisps, but it can also hold its own in haute cuisine.
At Noma in Copenhagen, repeatedly voted the world’s best restaurant, the tender stalks have been served with milk curds. Thomas Keller features it in his cookbook The French Laundry as a confit paired with navel oranges, candied fennel, and mascarpone sorbet. Think of rhubarb as a ruffian weed that’s climbed the culinary ladder—one theory posits that one of the origins of the name has the “barb” part stemming from the same etymological root as “barbarian”.
Rhubarb Cherry Pie features two of our favourite tart fruits, which are typically harvested during the Spring and Summer baking season.
Rhubarb and sour cherries are enjoyed in Sweden during the popular Midsommar festival. It’s one of our favourite sweet and flaky pies to serve at a festive dessert table for friends and family.
History of Midsommar
Midsommar is an annual festival celebrated in Scandinavian countries such as Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.
The Midsommar period of time is centred around the summer solstice, typically between June 19 and June 25. The ancient celebration predates Christianity, and existed under different names and traditions around the world.
In Sweden, Midsummer is such an important festivity that there have been proposals to make the Midsummer’s Eve into the National Day of Sweden, instead of June 6. In Latvia, Midsummer’s Jāņi festival is a public holiday. In Denmark and Norway, it may also be referred to as St. Hans Day.
Midsommar in Sweden is marked by families raising and dancing around a maypole (majstång or midsommarstång). Greenery placed over houses and barns was supposed to bring good fortune and health to people and livestock; this old tradition of decorating with greens continues. To decorate with greens was called att maja (to may) and may be the origin of the word majstång, maja coming originally from the month May.
In ancient pagan rites, bonfires were lit to protect families from evil spirits who were considered free to wander when the sun was going south. The May tree refers to a phallic symbol commonly used in pagan rites to symbolize the fertility and durability of harvest in the Viking era.
Like in Norway and Finland, it is believed that if a girl picks 7 different flowers in silence of the midsummer night and puts them underneath her pillow, she will dream of her future husband.
Another tradition on Swedish Midsummer is to end it with a skinny dip at night. It’s not mandatory to be naked, but many swim completely naked accompanied with a partner after a couple sips of schnapps!
In 2019, traditions and iconography from Swedish folklore were displayed in the much talked about Midsommar film. Dubbed the most haunting horror film of the year, director Ari Aster filmed a terrifying tale of a creepy Swedish Midsommar feast. Sadly, actress Florence Pugh was never given the opportunity to indulge in a slice of Rhubarb Cherry Pie. For shame!
Travel To Sweden by Baking Rhubarb Cherry Pie at Home
I love traveling to Europe!
During my first visit to the continent I traveled for 5 months by train and plane. I had the opportunity to eat my way through Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, Holland, Russia, Estonia, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Croatia, Bosnia, Hungary, Slovakia, Greece, Turkey and Italy.
I’ve also traveled extensively through Scandinavia, eating my way through the best restaurants in Westfjords, Reykjavik, Helsinki, Oslo, Bergen, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Goteborg.
My fondest food memory of Sweden is the country’s enthusiasm for cakes and pies! I was in Goteborg on Midsommar, instantly falling in love with Jordgubbstårta, Smörgåstårta and Rhubarb Cherry Pie thanks to all the local bakeries selling thick slices.
There’s nothing more delightful than sipping a frothy cappuccino at a Swedish bakery while forking through a flaky Rhubarb Cherry Pie slice. A perfect pairing includes sparkling rhubarb alcoholic cider and a scoop of vanilla ice cream and strawberry gelato.
Once back home from a Scandinavian holiday you’ll have a newfound appreciation for the flavours of Sweden and can impress friends and family by making your very own homemade Rhubarb Cherry Pie!
My Family Loves Rhubarb Cherry Pie
After encountering Cherry Rhubarb Pie on a visit to Sweden during Midsommar I thought I should introduce the dessert to my family,
I knew my family would rave for this tart fruit pie because my mother has a huge heritage rhubarb plant in our backyard. The rhubarb “bush” was gifted to my mother by my grandmother many decades ago. It’s resilience is unmatched in the backyard garden, having been transplanted to our homes in Markham, Oakville, Toronto and Muskoka over the years.
My father grew up in Niagara, the heart of Ontario’s wine country. Before the region’s celebrated vineyards boomed, it was known as one of Canada’s largest producers of peaches, pears and cherries. I remember visiting my grandparents each summer in Niagara on the Lake and stopping by roadside farmers markets to purchase large flats of cherries to take home for snacking and baking.
I made this easy homemade Rhubarb Cherry Pie for Mother’s Day, proud to combine two freshly grown Ontario fruits into a sublime Swedish dessert.
Bake The Perfect Pie Crust
Whether you’re a baking beginner or whiz with a rolling pin, it’s important your pie crust is as flaky as can be.
Our Rhubarb Cherry Pie recipe crust is foolproof if you follow the directions carefully. Remember the important rules when making pastry: keep the ingredients as cold as can be and handle the dough as little as possible.
The flaky texture found in a perfect pie crust is thanks to the solid fat, usually butter or vegetable shortening, that is gently rolled into the dough. You want your final dough to be shaggy, with small lobs and chunks of fat visible to the naked eye.
When solid fat in a pie crust melts at a high temperature in the oven the water evaporates quickly, leaving layers of flaky crust, just like a croissant.
Have an active sourdough starter at home? Feel free to substitute our pie crust below with this excellent sourdough discard pie crust recipe.
If you’re looking to obsess over the perfect pie and learn the best methods I suggest purchasing The Book on Pie by Erin McDowell.
Rhubarb Cherry Pie Tips
Ready to bake our homemade Rhubarb Cherry Pie? We suggest reading the recipe directions in detail to ensure you understand the step by step process.
In order to make the most delicious pie you must take the time (and pleasure) in mixing, rolling and baking a flaky crust. If you don’t have the ingredients or time feel free to purchase a frozen pie crust. You can prepare the filling at home from scratch.
We suggest using fresh rhubarb and cherries when baking this homemade Swedish fruit pie. Our family has 3 freezers in the house so we harvest and purchase a surplus of our favourite fruits to enjoy year round. If you have frozen rhubarb or canned sour cherries feel free to use those as well.
If you have to make this recipe during the off season and don’t have frozen or preserved fruits handy feel free to substitue for sour cherry pie filling and rhubarb jam.
Since rhubarb and strawberry are such a classic pairing feel free to add sliced strawberries to the pie filling if you have a few berries hiding in the back of your fridge.
When & What To Serve Sour Cherry Rhubarb Pie
While Rhubarb Cherry Pie is often served during Midsommar we love to enjoy this tart fruit pie year round.
The flaky pie is an eye-catching dessert perfect for celebrating special occasions like birthdays, Mother’s Day, baby showers and bridal showers.
We think Rhubarb Sour Cherry Pie is best enjoyed as a slice on its own.
If you’re enjoying the pie in the evening after dinner pair it with a pot of tea or coffee. If you’re serving it at a summer barbecue or luncheon it pairs nicely with a Swedish strawberry rhubarb cider.
If you’re feeling truly decadent, we sometimes serve Cherry Rhubarb Pie with lemon curd or vanilla and strawberry ice cream.
How To Store Pie
If you’re planning on making extra pie to enjoy later we suggest double the recipe. Pre-bake each crust and scoop the filling into each pie. Store pies in the freezer for up to 3 months. Bake straight out of the freezer for a quick and easy last minute dessert.
If you’ve got leftovers, store pie slices in Ziplock bags or Tupperware and enjoy within a week.
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Best Rhubarb Cherry Pie Recipe
Swedish Rhubarb Cherry Pie
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- Pie plate
- Rolling pin
- mixing bowl
- Spatula or Wooden Spoon
- 300 g All Purpose Flour
- 1 tsp White Sugar
- 1 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 cup Unsalted Butter chilled
- 1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1/2 cup Water minus 1 tablespoon
Cherry Rhubarb Pie Filling
- 3 cups Sour Cherries pitted
- 2 cups Rhubarb chopped
- 1/3 cup Tapioca Starch
- 1 cup White Sugar
- 2 tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1 tsp Almond Extract
- Pour the apple cider vinegar into a 1/2 cup measuring cup. Fill the remainder of the cup with water and place into the freezer to chill. Remove before freezing as you want it to be liquid.
- In a large mixing bowl, combing flour, sugar, and salt then whisk together.
- Remove cold butter from fridge and cut into 8-10 pieces, working quickly to avoid warming the butter. Add to the flour mixture and toss to coat butter pieces evenly. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour until it is pea-sized.
- Add the chilled water & vinegar mixture. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, push the mixture back and forth until the liquid has been absorbed into the dry ingredients. Using your hands, lift the edges of the crumbly dough, turn them inwards and press them firmly down. Repeat this, turning the bowl, until you can gather the dough into a ball, and there are no loose pieces at the bottom of the bowl.
- Move the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into two pieces. Form one into a round disc and wrap with plastic wrap. This will be the base of your pie. Form the second into a 6 x 3 inch rectangle and also wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for several hours or overnight.
Rolling Out The Pie Dough
- Place the round disc of dough on a lightly floured work surface. Holding a rolling pin at one end, pound the dough with about four or five whacks while moving from left to right. Rotate the dough 180 degrees and pound it again.
- Roll the dough out by placing the rolling pin in the center of the circle and firmly pressing down while moving the pin towards the outer edge of the dough. Turn the dough clockwise 45 degrees and continue this process of rolling and turning until the dough forms a circle approximately 12 inches in diameter.
- Gently fold the dough in half and lift it onto your 9 inch pie tin. Center it carefully and unfold it, pressing down into the base and corners to be sure there are no air pockets trapped underneath. Trim the outer edge so that it overlaps the edge of the tin by 1 inch. Wrap in plastic wrap and place into the fridge to chill.
- Place the rectangular disc of dough on a lightly floured work surface. Repeat the same banging motion, from left to right. Roll the rectangle until it is larger and flatter. With the long edge closest to you, fold the dough into thirds by lifting the right edge and folding it 2/3 of the way across, and then folding the left edge over until it touches the right edge. Flip the dough over and pound the dough with the rolling pin again. Roll out the dough in a rectangular shape until it is approximately 11 x 12 inches.
- Using a fluted pastry cutter and a ruler, cut lattice strips in 3/4 inch widths along the long side of the rectangle. Gently transfer to a parchment covered baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill.
Cherry Rhubarb Filling
- In a large mixing bowl, combine sour cherries and diced rhubarb. Add lemon juice, almond extract, sugar and tapioca starch. Fold ingredients together gently until completely blended. Pour into prepared pie shell.
- For top lattice, evenly space 6 strips of dough along the top of the filled pie. Fold back every other strip halfway back on top of itself. Place a strip in the center of the pie, perpendicular to the first 6 strips. It should cover the three strips that are still stretched across the pie. Unfold the three folded strips, covering the most recently placed perpendicular strip.
- Repeat this under/over weaving procedure on either side with the remaining 5 strips of dough until you have a fully woven lattice crust.
- Trim the edges of the lattice so that they just meet the edge of the pie pan. Roll the edge of the crust inwards and over the top of the lattice ends. Connect the leftover lattice strips and seal the seams with a little bit of water.
- Chill the assembled pie in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Bake The Pie
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 F and position a rack in the lower third of the oven.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet covered in aluminum foil. Place the pie on the baking sheet and bake in the lower third of the oven for 60 minutes, or until top crust is golden. Gently tent with aluminum foil and bake until the center of the pie is bubbling, which may take an additional 8-15 minutes depending on the temperature of your oven. Remove the baked pie and let sit until warm; if pie is still hot, the filling will not set.
- Serve individual slices with whipped cream or a scoop of your favourite ice cream or gelato.
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