Making a pie is an act of love. Making a pie on Pi Day is an act of love and math. Making a pie on Pi Day 2015 is an act of love, math, and geekiness. This is because on 3/14/15 at 9:26:53, the number will actually be 3.141592653. I mean, are you freaking/geeking out or what? Of course you are. Or maybe you're not, but you should still make a pie. Because it's fun. And an act of love. And also fun. Nerdiness just gets bonus points (but it also justifies any mid-morning pie eating that you wish to partake in).
A couple months ago, I set out to find the perfect apple pie. Not Dutch apple pie, or apple pie with caramel filling/drizzle/sauce. Just a plain old classic apple pie. (This was weirdly difficult to find on Pinterst.) I looked up the recipe in my America's Test Kitchen cookbook and also asked my friends for their favorite apple pie recipes. What surprised me about this was little experiment was that the four recipes I ended up getting were really quite shockingly similar. As a cook, it's kind of awesome when they happens--it means you're on the trail to a recipe that is probably pretty spectacular. And it was.
The two main (and in my opinion, weird) differences were the amount of apples used (this varied from 2 1/4 pounds to 3 1/2 pounds); and the baking temps, which varied from 350 degrees to 425/dropping to 375 degrees). But my friends' pies basically agreed on sugar, spice, lemon juice, and that we needed a decent combination of tart and sweet apples. Granny Smith were recommended across the board for the tart apple with things like Golden Delicious, Braeburn, or McIntosh filling out the sweet side.
The pie I turned out was perfectly classic and delicious. And I decided to get my crazy on by using the leftover dough to make cut-outs for the crust. My kids helped and it was kind of fun
If you wanted to get your super super really over-the-top slightly mentally ill geek-star crazy on, you could cut out numbers for the number Pi.
Makes 1 large pie
Prep time: an pleasant afternoon
Cook time: about an hour
Cost: $6.85 (more expensive than many recipes on here, but still less than $1/serving)
crust: 1.35, apples: 5.00, sugar: .20, egg: .10, other stuff: .20
1 recipe Butter Pie crust (or your favorite)
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 1/2 lb apples; this is about 7 large apples (I used a combo of Granny Smith--about 1 1/2 pounds, then filled in the rest with Golden delicious and a fun and sweet variety called Pinata, but any sweet variety will do. I do NOT recommend red delicious or Jonathan. If that's what you've got, I suggest upping the sugar by 1/4-1/2 C)
1 Tbsp lemon juice and about 1/2 tsp zest (the zest is optional; the lemon juice is absolutely not)
1 C granulated sugar
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp salt
i egg white, lightly beaten, if you wish to brush your crust with it
Prepare your pie crust (or cheat and buy one if that's your thing). Roll it out as you normally do. Note: If you normally do no such thing, have a look here or here. Put your bottom crust into a lightly greased pie pan. Put the other ball of crust dough into the fridge while you do your filling.
Peel and slice your apples. It's going to seem like a ridiculous amount of apple. Trust, friends, trust. They will shrink down so much.
Now take your obscene amount of apples and mix in the flour, lemon juice, zest, sugar, spices, and salt.
Put these into your pie crust. You're going to think I'm nuts because these apples are going to just pile up in that pie pan. I piled mine this high and wound up with a pie like at the top of this post.
Now roll out your other pie crust and put it on top. It's going to look like a breast augmentation gone terrible wrong. Trust.
Trim the edges off. And if you'd like seal the two pie crusts together by putting a little water on your fingers and using that between the two pie crust edges. Just a little water will seal them up if you're worried.
You can now crimp the edges using your amazing artistic skills as you see I've done below. I know, people, sometimes it's just hard to compete with my artistic genius.
Now you can decorate it with those obsessive compulsive pie numbers you cut out (31415926). Or whatever. Or not decorate it at all. Again, use a little bit of water on the dough to get your numbers/hearts/stars to stick.
At this point you can brush the pie with egg white and sprinkle it with sugar if you want to. I did. Or you can throw that thing in the oven. It's up to you.
Bake it at 425 for 25 minutes on the center rack. Then--without opening the oven--lower the temperature to 375 and bake for another 35-40 minutes. It's done when it's deep golden and bubbling at the edges and through the slits. You can also stick a fork in it to make sure all apples are tender.
Note: You will absolutely want to put a cookie sheet or a sheet of aluminum foil on the rack beneath the rack your pie is on. This is because your pie as will ooze and bubble and get all over your oven floor if you do not. Trust. And thank me later.
Now look how that shrunk down.
Allow to cool for several hours until it is just warm or completely cool. If you cut into it while hot, it will still taste good, but it will ooze all over itself and end up looking like cobbler not pie.