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Pi Day

My Kind of Pi!

My Kind of Pi!

As my wonderfully geeky husband pointed out to me, today is Pi Day.  And for all of you non-geeks out there, the date is 3-14.  Still don’t get it?  You need to review your 4th grade notes on geometry.  As I have mentioned before, I come from a family of pie makers. My mom especially makes what I consider to be perfect pies.  Good ingredients, flaky crusts and a lot of love and time go into perfect pies.

When deciding what pie to make today, I tried to weigh ease of prep with seasonal availability of ingredients.  Throw in the likes/dislikes of my husband, and there are precious few options.  The easy prep choice would clearly be pumpkin.  Nothing is easier to make than pumpkin pie filling, unless of course if you use freshly roasted pumpkin (which is more work than its worth, and not seasonally available right now).  However, to me, pumpkin pie itself is very seasonal and should only be consumed between Halloween and Christmas.  Since we are fast approaching St. Patrick’s Day, that choice is out.  Fruit pies were my next logical choice and again, must be chosen seasonally.  Berry pies are out due to their mid-winter expense and general ickiness of out-of-season berries.  Lemon Meringue is always a good choice, but a bit too high on the difficulty scale.  What does that leave us with??  Apple of course!  Apples are nearly always available, my husband loves it, and its about mid-range on the difficulty scale.  Sounds like a winner to me.  So after finding the recipe in Betty Crocker and calling my mom for her top-secret tips, I was off to the races.

I am super lucky to be married to a man who doesn’t mind peeling apples.  So I set him to work.

The Pro Peeler

The Pro Peeler

He even got to use his apple coring/slicing toy.  Gadgets make him so happy!

The apple gadget

The apple gadget

And by the way, these apple slices were then cut in half, so 16 slices per apple yields about the proper thickness.

Meanwhile, I was working on the pie crust.  I used my mom’s super simple and easy recipe.  Of course the key is REAL BUTTER.  No substitutions please.

Pi dough

Pi dough

The use of the food processor is key here.  You can of course use a pastry cutter, if you’re masichistic.  This recipe (below) makes enough for 2 crusts.  This is fine for a two crust apple pie, but that’s now how I roll.  So I froze the other half to use later.  Wrap in plastic first, then seal in a heavy-duty bag.

Yummy Extras

Yummy Extras

I rolled out the rest, with liberal use of flour both on the work-surface as well as the rolling pin.  Roll out to about 2 inches larger than the outer circumference of your pie dish.

Rolled out Dough

Rolled out Dough

Then, to make your life easier, gently roll the dough over your rolling pin to transfer it to the pie dish.

Dough Transfer

Dough Transfer

Now just push the crust into place along the sides of the dish, crimp the sides (easier said than done, I know), and you’re done with the crust!  Stick it in the fridge until you’re ready to fill and bake it.

Finished Crust

Finished Crust

Now on to the filling.  I use the Betty Crocker recipe with a slight cooking alteration, as per my mom’s instructions.  I believe she learned this trick from the Pie and Pastry Bible.  The trick is to slightly cook the filling on the stove top before putting it in the crust and baking it.  Just combine the apples and filling ingredients in a large NON-STICK (seriously, non-stick only) sauce pan.  Stir very frequently, otherwise it’ll stick like crazy to the bottom.  Cook only until the apples are slightly soft.  As my mom told me 3 times, you do not want applesauce pie.  I used my candy-thermometer as I was told not to let the temperature go above 130.  I do as I’m told.

Cooking the Filling

Cooking the Filling

Once the filling is slightly cooked, fill the pie crust with it.  Then move on to the topping.  I am a huge fan of the crumb topping in lieu of the second crust on top.  Again, just blitz up the ingredients in the food processor, or use a fork as I did for my mom growing up.  Once its at a fine-crumb consistency, pile it onto the apple filling.  Pour it into the center of the pie, then just use your fingers to distribute it to the outer edges.  Fill in the gaps and edges completely with the topping.

The Unbaked Pie

The Unbaked Pi

Now just bake it according to the recipe!  And be sure to follow the tip of covering with foil for the last 10 minutes of baking.  Unless you like the taste of burning, you’ll really regret not doing it!

Finished Pie

Finished Pi

So that’s how you celebrate Pi Day, at least where I’m from.

Prep Ranking: #5 – Got all day?
Tastiness Grade: 10 out of 10

Recipes after the jump. Enjoy!!

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