Happy (belated) Pi Day!

15 Mar

Becca is a fan of pi(e). Both the number and the food. Whereas Megan is mainly just a fan of the food.
Pi day is the celebration of the number π (you know the one, 3.1415926…). Since the first three digits are 3, 1, and 4, it is often celebrated on March 14th. Plus, it’s also Einstein’s birthday, so it really is a perfect fit. Since Einstein made so many contributions to physics. Which has so much to do with baking. (Really, we’re just making excuses to bake. Like we need them!)
So, we knew we had to bake a pie.
And since both of us had a craving for one of those warm homemade apple pies, with the crust topped with ice cream that melts… that’s what we decided to make.

We planned to make our pie with a lattice crust, but had some issues with the cutting of the dough, so we ended up with a normal top. We had plenty for the top, but we also roll out our dough very thin. We have included the measurements for both the lattice top and the normal top.

Flaky Pie Pastry from Essentials of Baking by Williams-Sonoma.
(makes one crust for a 9 inch pie)
For lattice-crust pie
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
4 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
4 teaspoons sugar (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons ice water
For double-crust pie
2/3 cup cold unsalted butter
6 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
2 2/3 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
8 tablespoons ice water

1. Cut the butter and vegetable shortening into 3/4-inch pieces.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt and stir to mix. Scatter the butter and shortening pieces over the flour mixture.
3. Using a fork, toss to coat with the flour. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in the butter and shortening until the mixture forms large, coarse crumbs the size of large peas.
4. Drizzle the ice water over the mixture and toss with the fork until the dough is evenly moist and begins to come together in a mass but does not form a ball.
5. Transfer the dough to a work surface. If making the lattice pie, divide the dough into 2 portions, one twice as large as the other; shape the larger portion into a 6-inch disk and the smaller one into a 3-inch disk. For the double-crust pie, divide the dough in half and form each half into a 6-inch disk. Wrap each disk tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour or for up to overnight.
6. Roll out the dough on floured surface, fit into 9-inch pie plate. Fill it up with apples, cover with rest of dough. Pinch the crust sides, and poke some holes in the top. Bake!

For the filling, we used a variation on the Family Favourite Apple Pie from Canadian Living.
Ingredients:
8 cups (peeled, cored and sliced apples, (about 2-1/2 lb)
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries (optional- we didn’t)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 egg white

Preparation:
1. In large bowl, toss together apples, brown sugar, raisins (if using), lemon juice and cinnamon; set aside.
2. Spoon in filling. Brush pastry edge with water. Roll out remaining pastry and fit over top; trim and flute edge. Cut 4 slashes in top for steam vents, and brush with an egg wash.
3. Sprinkle with sugar.
4. Bake in bottom third of 425°F (220°C) oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F (180°C); bake for 45 to 60 minutes longer or until apples are tender.

We made a number of changes to this recipe, however.
One of the changes we made to this recipe is using a number of different kinds of apples. If you use only one kind of apple that’s swell, but using a variety can improve the taste and texture of the pie because the different apples comingle and accent each other to make your pie spectacular. We used Granny Smith apples on the bottom for sturdiness. Granny Smiths are crunchy, tart, and will give shape to your pie. In the middle we used Gala apples because they are soft when baked. Macintosh apples were used on the top because they melt and mingle into the other apples very well. But the beauty is you can use whatever apples you want and experiment. We love the idea that you can bite into a piece of pie and have all these different apple-y tastes.
Also, we both love spicy cakes, and the filling recipe we chose was lacking in spices. So we increased the spices in it quite a bit. We kept our three types of apples separate, and added the spices to each one separately, so our measurements are meant for only one third of the total amount of spice in the pie. If you are using only one type of apple, or you don’t care if one type is on the bottom rather than the top, triple the amount of each of these.

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon all-spice
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
In addition, we sprinkled the top with cinnamon sugar, instead of just normal sugar.

We ended up having quite a bit of the apple-spice mixtures left over. Not wanting to waste it, we made some Apple Crumble with it. We simply mixed the apple with three packages of instant oatmeal, and the left over bit of cinnamon sugar from our pie. We then baked it for fifteen minutes at 350 degrees. The time it should be baked at will vary depending on how big you cut your apples, and the container it is in. Our apples were pretty small chunks, so it probably won’t need less time.

Our crumble (after we had eaten half!)

Yum!

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