Tenants Harbor Rhubarb Pie. Photo by Jean Treacy

The recipe I’m sending is one that evolved in our family in the 1930s and 1940s. My grandparents lived and worked in Boston and bought a cottage in Tenants Harbor for those times when my grandfather was free from his teaching job at Boston Latin School for boys. They grew a large garden each summer and, of course, maintained a large bed of rhubarb.

My grandmother made a rhubarb pie weekly and would subtlely change the recipe each time, asking for feedback from her husband and two daughters. Each week, they each ate one quarter of the pie (!!) and gave her their thumbs up or down. Eventually over many years, she perfected the recipe. It has come down through the generations, and it is my very favorite pie. I make at least one a year. It is loaded with sugar and therefore not the most healthy dessert, but I refuse to change a thing because of its perfection!

Tenants Harbor Rhubarb Pie. Photo by Jean Treacy

Tenants Harbor Rhubarb Pie

This recipe was developed by Dorothy Coggin Wenners, my grandmother. You can make your own crust, if you like, or use the recipe given here. To make a 10-inch pie, double the filling recipe.

For one (8-inch) pie:



2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons butter, frozen, then grated coarsely
1 egg yolk
3-5 tablespoons of cold water

To make the crust, mix together the flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the frozen, grated butter making sure that it’s well incorporated.

Mix the egg yolk into 3 tablespoon of water. Lightly sprinkle the liquid into the flour mixture, stirring as you go with a fork or, ideally, with your fingers. Quickly, use your fingers to press the dough together in the bowl to create a ball. If the dough does not come together, sprinkle on a little more water, pressing the dough together, a teaspoon at time, until a ball of dough is created. It is important to do this quickly so that the butter does not melt into the flour. In addition, you do not want the dough to get too wet, creating a sticky soggy mess!

Cut the dough into 2 pieces, 1 slightly larger than the other; the larger one will be for the bottom crust, the smaller one for the top. Press each ball into a disk about 3/4-inch thick. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm enough to roll out.


1 pound rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 ½ cups sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
Scant sprinkling of cinnamon, optional
1-2 tablespoons of butter
1-2 tablespoons cream or milk


Heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Wash and cut up the rhubarb and place it in a large bowl. Combine the sugar, flour and egg and mix thoroughly into the rhubarb. Add the cinnamon, if using. Set the fruit-sugar mixture aside and let the rhubarb release some of its juices while you make and chill the pie crust.

Roll out the large disk of pastry 1/8-inch thick on a lightly floured surface, quickly roll onto the rolling pin or fold lightly into quarters and place the pastry into the pie plate. Allow a good 1 inch of dough to overlap the top edge of the pie plate.

Pour the rhubarb filling onto the pastry and scatter the cut-up butter on top of the filling.

Roll out the smaller disk of pastry, 1/8 inch thick, to cover filling and overlap the pie plate by 1 inch.

Using your finger or a pastry brush, dampen the edges of the bottom pastry. Center the top pastry over the filling. Cut off any pastry that overlaps the plate by more than 1 inch. Going around the plate, roll in the pastry toward to center of the plate so that a raised edge is created. Using your fingers or a fork (or both), create an attractive edge that will seal in the filling.


Using a pastry brush or your fingers, paint the crust with the cream or milk. This creates a shiny crust. Using a sharp knife, cut 4 to 6 slits in the top crust to allow steam to be released while the pie is baking.

Put the pie in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. Turn the oven down to 375 degrees and bake the pie until the crust is golden and the juices are beginning to bubble up through the slits you made, another 35-45 minutes. Cover the edges of the crust with aluminum foil if they are browning too much.

Cool the pie until it is just lightly warm. It will thicken as it cools. If you cut it hot, it will be very, very juicy – too juicy. Slightly warm is just right. Enjoy!

MEET THE COOK, Jean Treacy

Jean Treacy. Photo courtesy of Jean Treacy

I am now happily retired, living on Spruce Creek in Kittery Point. I have a good-sized vegetable garden, some fruit bushes, and grape vines. My rhubarb patch was started with a volunteer plant hanging over the salt water from a seam in a ledge. I’m even experimenting with elderberries, sharing them with our many resident birds. I enjoy cooking and baking of all kinds. Making breads is probably my favorite way to spend time in the kitchen. My husband and I travel to Europe at least once a year, visiting his extensive family in Northern Ireland and our daughter and her family in England. However, I always save my summers for my favorite spot in the world – living by the salt water in Maine!

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