For those of you looking at the calendar, you’ll notice that today is March 14th. However, if you convert today’s date to numerals, you’ll realize that today is 3.14, which means it’s Pi Day or Pi(e) Day.
Therefore, in honor of Pi(e) Day, we asked a few writers and Boskone friends to share their favorite pi(e) recipes–and they do look tasty. While Pi might be infinite, these pi(e)s won’t last long! We hope you enjoy these recipes and we hope you enjoy Pi(e) Day! Why not have an extra slice to celebrate?
Here’s a recipe for my favorite kind of pie — Free Pie.
Step 1: Tell your sister/coworker/rabbi, “Hey, tomorrow is Pi Day! We should celebrate with fresh pie. Too bad I don’t live near a bakery. I suppose I could just get some from the grocery store.”
Step 2: Watch as a look of horror crosses their face. Repeat your offer to go to the grocery store for pie. “I’m sure they made it sometime this week. It’ll be fresh enough.”
Step 3: When they offer to bake a pie from scratch that night, say, “Oh, you shouldn’t go to all that trouble. I’ll just go to the grocery store at lunch tomorrow and bring some pie to the office.”
Step 4: The next morning, at your sister’s house/place of employment/synagogue, enjoy some nice Free Pie with your coffee.
Jennifer Pelland is the author of the novel Machine as well as several dozen published short stories. Because spare time is for the weak, she’s also a performing belly dancer and occasional radio theater actress.
Here’s the 911 on the 3.14! Our favorite pie is peach! Here is the recipe for the New York Times best selling deadline peach pie!
- Buy a large can of peach pie filling (the no bake kind.)
- Buy a a premade, precooked graham cracker crust.
Here is where it gets tricky:
- Take the plastic cover off the pie crust without breaking said crust. You may want to get a couple backups.
- Open can of pie filling and pour it into the crust.
- Eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner until you meet your deadline!
I’m a partisan. I like fruit pie, or vegetable if you count sweet potato and pumpkin as vegetables, or pot pie–preferably chicken or turkey. With the exception of key lime and lemon meringue (which are sort of fruit pies), cream pies do not qualify as far as I’m concerned. Brownie pies, peanut butter pies, chocolate chip cookie pies… not pies. Not even food, really. (I make an exception for pecan pie. About once a year.) My favorite is probably strawberry rhubarb, or bumbleberry (mixed berry) pie.
Since fruit pies are pretty straightforward, I’m going to offer a recipe for pi(e) crust!
It’s based off the recipe in the Boston Cooking School Cookbook (194mumble edition), which was my grandmother’s recipe, but has some technical changes. Her copy of the book is considered a family heirloom (my mother currently has custody), and that is the dirtiest page in the book–a pretty good testament to its quality. Also, the book falls open automatically to that page.
- 2 cups pastry flour (whole wheat is fine, but pastry/cake flour is much better than all-purpose for this)
- .5 teaspoon salt
- .33 cup butter
- .33 cup lard or vegetable shortening (such as Crisco) or duck fat
- 2 shots of ice cold unflavored vodka (100 proof preferred)
(The mix of fats promotes flakiness and flavor.)
Mix the salt with the flour, then work in the butter and lard with your dry fingertips (it helps to chill your hands in ice water first, then dry them) or a pastry cutter. Mix until the shortening is worked down to bits no larger than a pea.
If you have a pastry stone to work on, so much the better, but it’s not essential.
Moisten the dough with the vodka until it becomes a workable paste, and no further. You can drink any remaining vodka, because nothing goes better with holiday cooking and hot stoves and sharp knives than booze. Try to touch the dough as little as possible while working and rolling it. The purpose of the vodka, the cold, and the minimal handling is to retard gluten formation and keep the bits of shortening pretty good sized, making for a flakier crust!
Pat gently into a ball, wrap, and chill for at least an hour before rolling out. (Makes one two crust pie)
This is the pie that is exactly like a short story in that, no matter how many times you’ve made it before, no matter how fine the ingredients, you don’t know until you cut it in front of guests whether you have a delicious lime pie, a plate of runny slop, or a dish of lime-flavored scambled eggs. The only way to fix it is to go back and make another pie/write another story, because this one plain didn’t work.
- Whites of 3 large fresh eggs, at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup sugar
Heat oven to 300 F. Lightly grease a 9″ pie plate.
Beat egg whites in a medium bowl on medium speed until frothy.
Add cream of tartar and salt and beat on high speed until soft peaks form when beaters are lifted.
Beat in 1/4 cup of the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until blended.
With mixer on low speed, sprinkle on remaining sugar and beat until blended.
Spread meringue over bottom and sides of prepared dish.
Bake until lightly browned, about 45 minutes.
Cool in dish on wire rack.
- 6 egg yolks, slightly beaten
- 1/3 cup lime juice
- 2 and 1/2 Tablespoons grated lime rind
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons cold water
- 6 egg whites
- 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
Beat egg yolks until thick and lemon-colored.
Add lime juice, rind, sugar, and salt, then beat mixture until thoroughly blended.
Cook this mixture in a double-boiler until very thick, stirring constantly.
Now add the cold water to the egg whites and beat until stiff but not dry.
Combine baking powder and remaining 1/4 cup sugar and add to beaten egg white mixture.
Beat until stiff.
Fold hot lime mixture into half the egg white meringue; fill pre-baked pieshell.
Cover with remaining meringue.
Sprinkle lightly with sugar and bake 15 minutes in a moderately slow oven (325 F) or until meringue is delicately brown.
James D. Macdonald writes fantasy, SF, and horror. He also makes pies.
My maternal grandmother, a farm woman, was famous for being able to cut pie into nine equal pieces, freehand. Try it – it’s hard! She became able to do this because there were times in her life when she baked three pies a day and they all got eaten. She had lots of practice and got very good.
I am not particularly good at rolling pie crust, but since I went on the low-sodium diet I’ve been practicing more. Here’s a handy tip for pie crust that people will enjoy eating: When the recipe calls for salt, substitute a similar amount of cinnamon, for a sweet pie, or curry powder, for a savory pie. You’ll never go back.
For apple pie, peel five or six large tart apples (default to Granny Smiths) and cut into segments. Toss with half a cup of sugar, a dash of nutmeg, a couple of dashes of lemon juice, and a liberal application of cinnamon.
For blueberry pie, wash a pint of fresh blueberries, treat same way.
Peaches and blackberries, ditto.
Spread more or less evenly in bottom crust, dot with butter, cover with top crust, seal (top crust will be lumpy). Cut slits in pie crust all around. Bake at 350 for 20-40 minutes depending on the size of the pie. When crust is brown and juice bubbles through the slits, take out and cool.
Remember, pie is not only a dessert, it’s breakfast food!
Brenda Noiseux’s Pecan Pi(e)
My favorite Pi is a super easy version of Pecan Pie. This recipe uses absolutely zero corn syrup is is so easy I had my 8 year old niece make it at last year’s Thanksgiving. It’s not super sweet so you can taste the pecans, if that’s something you like. When making for Pi Day, use the decorating pecans to form 3.14.
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup of butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 tablespoon of milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1 cup halved pecans (to decorate top of pie)
- 1 prepared pie crust
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Beat eggs until foamy
- Stir in melted-but-not-warm butter (you don’t want to cook the eggs with any heat from melted butter)
- Next stir in sugar and flour
- Lastly, stir in milk, vanilla extract and pecans
- Place pie crust in a 9 inch round pie pan
- Pour mixture into crust
- Place halved pecans on top; remember to make fun designs like Pi signs or write out 3.14!
- Bake in the oven, raising the oven temp to 400 degrees for 10 minutes
- Reduce heat to 350 degrees and cook for another 30-40 minutes.
Serve warm or cooled
This is modified from a recipe my mom-in-law gave me for cherry pie.
- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- salt–I use 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon
- 3/4 cups shortening, plus one tablespoon
- 1/4 cup ice-cold water, or enough to make the pastry damp but not wet
If in Canada, use 2 cups flour and 1 cup shortening. The flour is different,
Mix the flour and salt, cut in the shortening with a pastry cutter, and add water in dribbles. Mix with a fork until it just sticks together a bit. Roll out between two pieces of plastic wrap. Don’t add too much water–the pastry is best while still a little crumbly.
- Unsweetened, frozen pie cherries (the tart kind) about 5 cups
- 3 tablespoons flour
- pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup sugar, or to taste. You can sub part of this with sugar substitute
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- a few drops af almond extract (though I never add it.)
Now, the original recipe called for putting the frozen cherries and other filling stuff into the crust and baking. That never worked for me. The pastry got too brown and the cherries took too long to cook. I have much more success by microwaving the filling stuff until it starts to thicken a bit. Then, you can adjust the sugar and flour levels to taste.
You can sprinkle a bit of flour and sugar on the bottom crust, to keep it from getting soggy.
Put the filling into the bottom crust. Dot with butter. (I always forget to do this, and it still tastes fine.)
Cover with the top crust and cut a few holes for the steam to escape.
Cook for 8 to 10 minutes at 450 degrees, until the top crust starts to brown and looks a bit dry. This ensures a lovely tender crumb. (Hey, I sound like a chef!)
Reduce the heat to 375. Bake until the filling bubbles and the crust is a lovely brown. (You might put a cookie sheet underneath to catch the drips.)
Serve warm or cold. Enjoy!
Deborah Lynn Jacobs’ most recent book is Choices, written for the twelve and up crowd. Here’s the tag line: Kathleen, overwhelmed with guilt over the death of her brother, shifts between alternate universes in an unconscious attempt to find one in which he is still alive.
Any good Boskone Pi(e) post deserves a recipe for Boskone Cream Pie. I moved to Boston about 10 years ago, and I fell in love with the region’s famous pie. However, since I am lactose intolerant, my stomach often protests. So, I invented my own lactose free recipe and being the sci-fi chick that I am, I dubbed it the Boskone Cream Pie. The instructions are pretty simple.
Buy a Betty Crocker yellow cake mix. Follow those directions to make one round cake. Once it’s done, let it cool and then slice it in half.
Buy a box of Jell-O Instant pudding mix–vanilla flavor. Follow those instructions, but use Lactaid Milk. (You can get it in any store and your tummy will love you.)
Remove the top half of the cake and smear the vanilla pudding on the surface of the bottom piece of cake. Then replace the top half of the cake, leaving a nice thick layer of pudding between the two halves.
Open your container of Betty Crocker Chocolate Frosting (or whatever brand you prefer), and smear it on the surface of the top layer of cake.
Cut into your newly made Boskone Cream Pie and enjoy Pi(e) Day!