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Celebrating Pi(e) Day!

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If you’re looking for a holiday that sits at the center of the Venn diagram between “math” and “baked good,” then friends, have I got the day for you!

That’s right, folks – we’re celebrating National Pi(e) Day!

For those unfamiliar, March 14 – or 3/14 – is National Pi Day, so named after the mathematical constant whose numerical value is roughly equal to 3.14. Hence, March 14 is Pi Day.

Now, we’re big fans of calculating the area of a circle, and Pi – defined in Euclidian geometry as the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter – is a major part of that. Mathematicians have been aware of its existence for thousands of years, with its specific value becoming more and more refined as time has passed.

(For the record, the value of Pi has been calculated to greater and greater exactitude as computing power has increased. It was solved to 1,000 digits in 1949, to 10,000 in 1958, to 100,000 in 1961, crossing the 1 million digit threshold in 1973. The current recognized record, set in August of last year, stands at 62,831,853,071,796 – over 62.8 trillion digits.)

But that’s enough about Pi. Really, that’s just an excuse to talk about what we’re REALLY interested in.

Pie.

That’s right – in honor of National Pi Day, we thought we’d offer up some recipes to celebrate National Pie Day. We’ve assembled a number of first-rate pies that you can make at home; some of these have appeared in our pages before, while others are brand new. One thing they all have in common?

They’re delicious.

So join us in celebrating the tastiest of all mathematical constants. If any of these recipes look good to you, clip and save them. If you do wind up baking one or more of these wonderful treats, please feel free to drop me a line at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and let me know how they turned out.

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Snickerdoodle Pie (as seen on our cover)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Prepare the Pie Crust:

1 unbaked pie crust, in a 9” pie plate

1 tablespoon sugar 

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon butter, melted

Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Brush the unbaked pie crust with melted butter. Sprinkle half the cinnamon sugar over the surface of the pie crust. (The other half will go on the top of the pie at the end of the recipe.) Place the crust in the refrigerator while you make the rest of the pie. 

For the Syrup:

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup butter

3 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons light-colored corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine brown sugar, butter, water, corn syrup, and cinnamon in a saucepan. Cook the syrup over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil gently for 2 minutes, continuing to stir. Remove from heat and add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla. Set aside to cool.

For the Filling:

1/2 teaspoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla, divided

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

In a medium bowl, beat 1/4 cup softened butter with electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add sugars, baking powder, salt, and cream of tartar and mix until well combined. Beat in egg and 1 tsp. vanilla. Gradually add in milk until combined, and then add the flour, mixing until well combined. 

Remove the pie crust from the refrigerator and spread the pie filling evenly in the crust. Pour the syrup over the pie filling. Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon sugar over the top of the pie. 

Bake pie for 35-40 minutes. (You may want to cover the pie crust with foil during the last 10 minutes, to prevent over-browning.) The pie is done when a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. 

Cool for 30 minutes and serve with ice cream. 

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Chocolate Graham Cracker Pie

1 1/3 cups white sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch

pinch salt

1 1/2 cups milk

4 egg yolks

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1 ounce bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. Set aside. 

In a small bowl, whisk the milk and egg yolks together until smooth. 

Gradually add the milk and egg mixture to the dry ingredients in the saucepan, stirring to combine.

Cook mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly. This mixture will thicken, and it’s important to keep stirring to prevent the pudding from burning to the bottom of the pan. When it comes to a full boil, set a timer for one minute, and continue to stir. 

Once the timer goes off, remove from heat and add the chocolate, butter and vanilla quickly. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted. 

Pour into a prepared graham cracker pie crust. Place plastic wrap over filling to prevent skin from forming and chill for several hours. Serve with whipped cream. 

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Blueberry Pie

3 1/2 cups blueberries

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tbsp cinnamon

Pinch of salt

2 tbsp lemon juice

3 tbsp butter

1 recipe butter pie pastry (included later)

Combine blueberries, sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Pour into a pastry filled pie plate. Dot butter over the top of the berries and sprinkle with lemon juice. Add the top as a lattice or a solid crust and pinch edges to seal. If you choose not to do a lattice crust, use a knife to create a few vent slices in the top crust. 

Bake at 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes. The pie is done when the berry filling is bubbling. 

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

2 cups sliced strawberries

2 cups sliced rhubarb

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tbsp cinnamon

Pinch of salt

1 tbsp lemon juice

3 tbsp butter

1 recipe butter pie pastry (included later)

Combine strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Pour into a pastry filled pie plate. Dot butter over the top of the fruit and sprinkle with lemon juice. Add the top crust, pinch edges to seal. With a knife, create a few vent slices in the top crust. 

Bake at 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes. You’ll know the pie is done when you can see it bubbling through the vents in the crust.

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Chicken Pot Pie

Filling:

1/2 cup butter

1 medium onion, chopped

1 pound cooked chicken, shredded or cubed

3 medium carrots, sliced 

1 cup peas (canned or frozen are fine)

2 stalks of celery, sliced

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt 

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon celery seed

2 cups chicken broth

2/3 cup milk

Prepare a double pie crust recipe. Roll out the bottom crust, and place in greased pie plate. Place the pie plate in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Cook onions in butter until soft and translucent. Add carrots and celery and cook until soft, stirring occasionally. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and celery seed. Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk. Add the chicken and the peas. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until thick. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place the chicken mixture in the prepared pie crust. Pour the filling into the pan (you may have a bit extra, depending on the size of your pie plate. Do not overfill.) Cover with the top crust, crimp the edges to seal, and cut away any excess dough. Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes or so before serving. 

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Butter Pie Pastry (in case you want to make your own)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus a few tablespoons for dusting the board

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup unsalted butter, cubed and chilled

6 to 8 tbsp ice water

To make with a pastry cutter, mix 2 1/2 cups flour and salt in a bowl. Scatter the butter cubes over the flour mixture and toss to combine. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with the pastry cutter until the dough looks crumbly and is in pea-sized pieces. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of the ice water over the dough and work the dough with a spatula. Continue to work the dough, adding the water a tablespoon at a time, until it comes together into one large clump. 

To make with a food processor, add flour and salt and pulse to combine. Add butter cubes and pulse until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running on low, add the ice water a tablespoon at a time until the dough begins to clump together and begins to form a ball. 

Place the dough onto a floured board and divide into two equal pieces. Form each into a flat ball and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

On a floured board, roll one of the pieces of dough into a circle. Move from the center to the edge, turning and flouring to keep it from sticking to the board. Continue to roll it out until it is large enough to fit your pan with enough overlap to seal the crusts together. You can fold it or drape it over the rolling pin to help move it to the pie plate, if that’s helpful. Repeat for the top crust. 

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Whoopie Pies

For the cookies: 

1/4 cup shortening

1 cup milk

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

Beat shortening, milk, sugar, egg and vanilla together in a large mixing bowl until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and combine until just smooth. 

Drop batter in rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart. (They should rise and expand a lot.) This recipe should make about two dozen cookies. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. The cookies should be set in the middle before coming out of the oven. Allow them to cool on the baking sheets for several minutes before removing to racks to finish cooling. 

For the filling: 

1 cup vegetable shortening or butter

2 cups powdered sugar

2 cups Marshmallow Fluff

2 tsp vanilla

Beat together all ingredients until smooth. 

To make the whoopie pies, spread the filling onto the flat side of a cookie and top with another cookie of approximately the same size. Wrap individually in plastic wrap until ready to serve. 

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Berry Slab Pie

For the crust: 

3 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp sugar

10 tbsp vegetable shortening, frozen and cubed

10 tbsp butter, frozen and cubed

8 - 14 tbsp ice water

1 egg, beaten

Add the flour, salt and sugar to a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the shortening and butter to the flour mixture. Pulse until the mixture is coarse and consists mostly of pea-sized pieces. 

Add the water 1 tbsp at a time, pulsing after each addition. Keep adding water until the mixture starts to stick together in a large clump. 

Turn the dough out onto a floured board and divide into two pieces. Form each piece into a disc without overworking the dough. Wrap each piece tightly with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for about an hour. 

For the filling: 

1 1/2 lbs berries (sliced strawberries, raspberries or blueberries all work well here)

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 tsp salt

3 tbsp cornstarch

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Combine the berries, lemon juice, salt, cornstarch and sugar in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and add the vanilla. Allow the mixture to cool for about 30 minutes. 

On a floured surface, roll out one of the discs of pie dough into a large rectangle. Transfer the dough to an ungreased cookie sheet. Spread the jam over the center of the crust, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border around the edges. 

Roll out the second piece of dough into a rectangle, approximately the same size as the first. 

Brush the beaten egg along the border of the bottom crust. Place the second crust on top, aligning the edges as best you can and trimming as necessary. Press the edges down to seal, and crimp by hand or with a fork. Cut slits into the top crust. 

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the crust is a light golden-brown color. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  

For the glaze (optional): 

2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1-3 tbsp milk

In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar, vanilla and 1 tbsp of the milk. Stir to combine. Continue to add milk a little bit at a time until the mixture forms a thick paste. 

Spread the glaze over the crust.

Last modified on Wednesday, 09 March 2022 12:06

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