March 14, 2010

revenge of the nerds

I like pie. Fruity or creamy, sweet or savory--there are only a few exceptions (such as pumpkin, citrus, or anything bearing meringue). I'm also a math geek, so it makes perfect sense that I get excited about Pi Day.

A beauty shot before the eaters got hold of it.
Although the filling of a pie does indeed matter to me, the crust is of far greater importance. I think Barbara of Moveable Feasts put it quite nicely in her post about a lemon tart: "As far as I'm concerned if the crust is no good, I'm not wasting the calories." Right on.

Hello, lovah.
Last year, I almost missed Pi Day but was able to toss together some pecan pie muffins. This year, I was ready and I made a classic apple pie to celebrate. Yes, I could wax poetic about the benefits of using multiple varieties of apples based on their differing textures and levels of sweetness, but I won't. You know what you like.

In.Nards.
I will, however, stress the importance of a golden, buttery, flaky crust. Again, you know what you like. You probably have a go-to crust that you've tweaked such that it suits you perfectly; I know I do. My fat preference involves a combination--shortening for that melt-in-your-mouth quality and butter for its awesome flavor. I also like a fair amount of sugar, and I always add cinnamon. The result, if prepared correctly, is a dough that's easy to handle and bakes up into a slightly crispy, ready-to-dissolve-on-the-tongue crust.

Have a pleasant Pi Day!

Apple Pi
(adapted from here)

For the crust:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
8 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and chilled
6 to 8 tablespoons ice water

For the pie:
3 1/2 to 4 pounds (8 to 12) apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided use
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Make the crust:
Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon with a fork until combined. Scatter the shortening over the top and mix with a pastry cutter, two knives, or your magnificent hands until the mixture has the texture of coarse sand. Scatter the butter pieces over the top and mix until the dough resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons of the ice water over the mixture. Stir and press the dough together, using a stiff rubber spatula until the dough sticks together. If the dough does not come together, stir in the remaining water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it does.
Divide the dough into two even pieces and flatten each into a 4-inch disk. Wrap the disks tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Let the chilled dough soften slightly at room temperature before rolling it out and fitting the bottom crust into a pie plate.

Make the pie:
Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position, place a rimmed baking sheet on the rack, and heat the oven to 500°F. Toss the apples with cup of the sugar, the flour, lemon juice, salt, and cinnamon, and set aside.
Roll out the top crust to a 12-inch circle. Spread the apples in the unbaked pie crust bottom, mounding them slightly in the middle. Loosely roll the top crust around the rolling pin, then gently unroll it over the apples. Trim all but 1/2-inch of the dough overhanging the edge of the pie plate with scissors. Seal the edge by pressing the top and bottom crusts together, then tuck the edges underneath. Crimp the edges, and cut four vent holes in the top. Brush the crust with beaten egg white or milk and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar.
Place the pie on the heated baking sheet and lower the oven temperature to 425°F. Bake until the top crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet, reduce the oven temperature again to 375°F, and continue to bake until the juices are bubbling and the crust is deep golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes longer. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and cool to room temperature before serving.

86 comments:

Chanel11 said...

I also like pie - and apple pie is a never-fail, pair it with a gorgeous crust like yours and you have yourself perfection on a plate.

Lucie said...

I could eat that pie crust on its own! Happy Pi Day Grace!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I also love any kind of pie! yours looks delicious and that pastry looks so flaky!

Cheers,

Rosa

shaz said...

Happy Pi Day to you Grace (must admit this is the first I've heard of it!). And what a great way to celebrate. My fam love apple pie, luckily apple season is just about to start which means lots of chances to try pie-crusts (like this one).

George Gaston said...

Nerds or herds... pie will always get them to the table. Be it a family gathering or a neighborhood potluck, we all head to the dessert table first to see what pies are there.

I am with you Grace, it doesn't really matter what filling is in the pie; but the quality of the crust stays with us forever. I remember to this day old Aunt Janie's Peach Pie ~ but not because of her delicious yard grown peaches; it was the "flat, dry, tasteless, card-board" crust! And that was 40 years ago....

Happy Pi Day to you and love your crust (and apple filling)....

HaveFaith said...

I will try your crust recipe. It looks wonderful. I remember when I took a chicken pot pie (in a 9 x 13 dish) to a church dinner. I overheard a man say that he loved anything with a good crust. He took a HUGE helping of my pot pie and started eating right there in the buffet line. He was a very happy man. You are so right about the crust being "everything".

Kate at Serendipity said...

PI DAY? Why wasn't I told? Heads will roll for this...

Your pie looks veryvery delicious. I have some apples here that would be perfect for this. And I agree with you about the crust. It's almost the best part! Almost.

Lisa-Marie said...

Haha, genius husband mentioned the to me! do you think shepherd's pie counts? it doesn't have a crust, but it is gooooood!

kat said...

I agree its really all about the flaky butter crust

Chef Aimee said...

Happy Pi Day! Oh this pie looks amazing...what a crust!!!

Julie said...

Apple is my favorite Pi :) (and coconut too!)
Looks scrumptious!

Jeanette said...

All pi is my favorite.

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

I was never good with Pi.
But now, Pie I can handle just fine.

Lindsey @ pickyeatings said...

Happy pi day!

5 Star Foodie said...

Yummy apple pie! Happy pi day!

Foodycat said...

That really is a perfect looking pie! So hard to beat apple. Maybe cherry. Or peach. But I always go back to apple.

dawn said...

LOL I didn't know there was a pi day. Obviously I'm not a math geek or nerd. But I love your pi! LOL

Cara said...

Happy Pi Day from another math geek!

lisa said...

What a pi! Your crust looks amazing. Love the cinnamon in it too!

Barbara said...

Count me in as one more math nerd.
Mathematician: Pi r squared
Baker: No! Pies are round, cakes are square!

And your apple pie is definitely NOT square! Your crust looks divine...that's what I care about most. I'll pick the apples out, eat the cinnamony goo and crust that's left.

Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella said...

Doh! I missed pi day. But can I have a slice of yours to celebrate it pretty pleas? :D

Bellini Valli said...

Happi pi day:D

Amy I. said...

Happy Pi Day!!!! Your crust looks exactly how I envision a perfect pie should look...keeping your butter/shortening combo in mind for future experimentation.

Pam said...

One of my favorite math teachers at school had her students bring in pies for pi day. Then all of the leftovers ended up in the teacher's lounge!

Marjie said...

I shall try a pie or 2 today. I am still crust-phobic. However, we all have our crosses to bear.

Happi Pi Dai!

Faith said...

I like a little sugar in my crust too, and I absolutely agree about the shortening/butter combo. That crust is enough to make me want to live on pie for the rest of my life. Gorgeous pie, Grace!

Hungry Dog said...

Fabulous. Happy Pi/Pie day!!

Josie said...

I love the idea of adding cinnamon directly to the crust. Of course I was raised by a woman who only uses lard in her crusts so I'd be scared to try anything different ;)

The Teacher Cooks said...

We celebrated pi day on Friday wearing cute pi day t- shirts! Your crust looks so flaky! I wish I had a piece of that apple pie right now.

culinography said...

Pi day snuck up on my this year, but I'd LOVE a piece of your Apple Pi! Your crust is pure perfection!

oneordinaryday said...

I love pie and it never even crossed my radar that it was Pi Day! Darnit!

Ingrid said...

One of my twins has been wearing me out to make him an apple Pi but my Ppi making skills are lacking.

You pinky swear that your crust is totally doable?
~ingrid

Kerstin said...

I forgot about Pi Day! I think I did bake a pie for a math class at some point in junior high- lol. Your pie looks great!

Trissa said...

Making a good crust is much harder than making a good filling! I love the idea of Pi day! I completely missed it but there's no harm in celebrating it late! :) Your pie and crust look delicious!

Karen said...

Ok, you've inspired me to tackle pie crust. I haven't attempted it in many, many years and in the meantime I've become lazy, relying on the prepackaged stuff.

I think I'll a pie to this week's menu plan.

~~louise~~ said...

Happy belated Pi Day, Grace. Your pie looks delicious. I'm still trying to make the perfect pie crust. Someday, perhaps.

Thanks for sharing...

Albany Jane said...

You have such pretty crusts!

I completely forgot about Pi day! Oh, boo hoo. I don't suppose I could make it on the ides of March, eh?

The kicker is, I got two sticks of butter out yesterday but completely lacked motivation to make anything.

Amanda said...

You did not just throw up here the most beautiful pie crust I have EVER seen. WOW!! You got skills girl!! Almost too good looking to eat.... eh. Who am I kidding. I would TOTALLY eat it. :)

Jessica@Foodmayhem said...

Drool! I wanted to celebrate Pi Day too but I don't have a kitchen right now. =( Love the close-up on the crust!

LilSis said...

I say that is one beautiful pie! That crust looks like it could melt in your mouth! I'd have a hard time not eating the entire pie!

Pam said...

I can't believe you don't like pumpkin pie - there is so much cinnamon in it. ;)

This "apple pi" looks FANTASTIC!!! The crust alone is making me drool.

Maria said...

I don't have one pie recipe on my blog, what is wrong with me! Time to get baking:)

Mimi said...

Your pie crust looks perfectly delicious. Great idea to adding cinnamon to it.
Mimi

cookies and cups said...

Your crust is making me want pie, something that I very rarely crave!

Nutmeg Nanny said...

I noticed it was pie only yesterday :( Oh well. Next year I guess. This apple pie looks great. I'm always down for a nice slice topped with ice cream...yum!

lisa @ dandysugar said...

Pi Day? How could this have slipped by me? Your crust is so flaky and beautiful! Delicious!

pigpigscorner said...

I love pie too, if not for the calories, I'd have pie every meal.

marla {family fresh cooking} said...

Oh piiiiiiieeeee! Love me some great apple pie. Not into the meringue either, but the pumpkin & apple I LOVE!! Yes, a great crust is essential! Your recipe sounds delicious!

Juliana said...

Happy Pi Day :-) Your apple pie sure looks yummie!

Leslie said...

You added cinnamon to the crust???? NOOOOOOO!!! lol

Erica said...

I am not a huge pie fan, but my husband loves pie! The crust sounds really good.

Bridgett said...

The crust would be my favorite part!

Lisa said...

That crust looks perfect! I adore Apple Pie with or without a good crust but, ohhh, what a difference a great crust makes. Then I might be willing to forgo a delicious filling for another bite of crust!

Gloria said...

I love pies and this look really fantastic Grace! gloria

Lori said...

Good God Grace if I didnt like pie before I read this post I would certainly like it now. Your crust sounds amazing.

The Dutch Baker's Daughter said...

How did I miss Pi day? I will have to make up for it. I love the cinnamon in the crust and I will definately try the butter/shortening combo next time. Yay for Pi and Yay for nerds!

vickys said...

OOOH I'm a self-confessed nerd! I love math and science and Pi!

The pie crust looks insanely flaky and tender (which I'm sure everyone's told you). I'm definitely envious!

LyB said...

Ah, apple pie, such a delicious classic! I'm still a bit scared of making pie crusts, they never turn out quite right when I make them. Yours looks perfect, just perfect!

Angie said...

That crust looks just perfect. My crusts are never so pretty.

Lynda said...

Ah yes, the crust must be flakey and good in order to have a truely wonderful pie. Your crust looks perfect to encase any fruit or berry Grace.
I also use both butter and shortening in my crusts,but haven't tried adding sugar. Must do that next time

Carolyn Jung said...

That crust looks like perfection. Nowadays, doing math makes my head spin. But eating pie -- well, that's a whole 'nother story. ;)

Bob said...

Crap, I missed pi day! I'm losing geek cred left and right this year.

That pie looks awesome. And I agree, crust is key. A bad crust can ruin good filling and a good crust can really elevate a lackluster one.

Sophie said...

Gorgeous pie crust. I still can't manage to make a flakey gluten free pie crust :/. I will say that the butter/shortening combo does work quite well with pie crusts!

jillian said...

I so agree about the crust. Yours looks flakey and beautifully golden.

sweetlife said...

I always miss pi day..next year..I love your pie looks so amazing!!

sweetlife

Robin Sue said...

I do like many pies but I always come back to apple. Heated up with ice cream- so good. Yes and the crust must be good!

MaryBeth said...

I love pie in any and all flavors...your crust looks so buttery and flaky good...

Velva said...

Happy belated pi Day to you! Looks like you celebrated quite well.

M D said...

Happy Pi Day! Probably Belated I guess! What a way to celebrate with a perfectly mastered apple pie! The crust looks very flaky and good. Must have been amazing on the bite!!!

Patty said...

Happy (belated) Pi Day! Can't wait to try this recipe out, thanks for posting!

Joanne said...

I like the rest of those pies (pumpkin and citrus...minus the meringue. Meringue is just a waste of air. And egg whites) enough for both of us. But I have to say that apple holds a special place in my heart. Yours looks amazing. Way better than anything I've ever seen in a bakery!

Heather said...

You can't be a Southern girl and not like pie, right? Your apple pie looks delicious and I agree with you, the crust is the most important part. Of course, I love your addition of cinnamon too.
I'm going to have to try your pecan pie muffins. Pecan Pie is my husbands favorite pie so I know he would love the miffins.

Lisa said...

I am not the best when it comes to baking, but I do love to make a good apple pie :-) That is the only thing I can bake well and I will enjoy trying this one out. Great job!

kimberleyblue said...

I missed Pi Day again! I miss it every year. :(

Lemon pies are indeed my favourite, but apple comes in close second. Especially with mounds of vanilla ice cream.

Your crust looks supberb!

msmeanie said...

Yay! You are a math geek like me!! Girl math geeks are the BEST! This pie looks outstanding. The crust looks perfect!

Lovely Lacey said...

Your pie looks lush! Makes me want a bit ol slice of pie with a glass of milk

Xiao Yen Recipes said...

I haven't baked an apple pie for years! I enjoyed baking them in high school using the same old recipe my cooking teacher taught us but I lost the recipe a long, long time ago. Your recipe looks quite similar. I'm gonna try it out and see.

Debbie said...

Yours looks wonderful. It's been awhile since I made an apple pie. Now, that's all I have on my mind:)

Cookie baker Lynn said...

That crust looks absolutely perfect! Can you come over and be my crust coach?

Kathleen said...

Oh my your crust looks beyond gorgeous! Yum! Happy Pi day to you!

Chef Fresco said...

Hey Grace! So your comment on our last post was perfect - it made my day! Because guess what the colorful side dish in the background is?! A dish we made from your blog!! :) hehe. I guess you know what you like! We will be posting it next & I already have it written up, so keep your eye out!

p.s. your pie looks delicious!

Chef Jeena said...

If you don't keep that pie away from me I am afraid I will eat the whole thing!!

Danielle said...

My whole life I claimed to not like pie, mostly and more to the point, I didnt like pie crust. Apparently I had never had a good crust until recently...when I made one from scratch and LOVED it! soooo, yes....a crust will make or break a pie as far as I'm concerned (unless it's a pecan pie...I could care less....I love em ALL)

Deborah said...

I agree - if the crust isn't good, it's not worth it! (Although I disagree with you about pumpkin, citrus, and meringue...)

Eve said...

That is one NICE looking crust.

tasteofbeirut said...

Your pie looks perfect; I have always been scared of trying apple pie, thought it might be too hard to get that crust right but I will give it a shot with your recipe.