Happy Pi Day!

No, we didn’t forget the “e”. Pi Day is an annual celebration of the mathematical constant π. Since most people know π as “3.14 something something something” the 14th day of the 3rd month was chosen as Pi Day.

piday-logo-horizontalThere are all sorts of events going on for Pi Day, which you can learn more about at the Pi Day website or by checking out the #PiDay hashtag on Twitter, and Keysmash wanted to get in on the fun.

One of the ways people celebrate Pi Day is by eating, wait for it … that’s right, pie. Bless William Jones for not choosing omicron or something for the the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, because that doesn’t sound tasty at all.

We thought we’d celebrate Pi Day in the way that god – or at least Larry Shaw – intended, and eat some pie. Whether store-bought or homemade, fruit or cream or custard, sweet or savory (pizza totally counts), pie is a tasty treat that nearly everyone can enjoy.

Under the cut we’ll share some of our favorite pie related things. We hope you’ll enjoy one, or many, of these delectable, circular treats, in honor of today’s holiday.

brie-50-x-50-aviFull disclosure, I’m not a big pie person. I much prefer cake or cupcakes to a pie. However, when I was younger, my mom and I would go to the restaurants Baker’s Square or Big Boy (I have no idea if these are midwest things or national) and I would actually indulge in their pie selection. My personal favorites from both were more of a meringue or chocolate. I hated cooked fruit, so I’d make quite the face at the idea of berry or apple pie.

Now, I’ll eat the occasional slice of apple pie, or maybe even a berry cobbler, but my favorite pies are still those that are whipped and blended. A personal favorite of mine is sweet potato pie. On holidays, most families tend to break out the pumpkin pie, but having a grandmother from Georgia, history dictated that you’d have a sweet potato pie. For me, there is nothing that screams holiday season and home more than that.

This sweet potato pie recipe comes from Taste of Home, however it’s very similar to the pie my grandmother makes. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 unbaked pastry shell (9 inches) (that’s what she said…sorry I couldn’t help it)

Directions

  • In a bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs; mix well. Add milk, sweet potatoes, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt; mix well. Pour into pie shell. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°; bake 35-40 minutes longer or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool. Store in refrigerator. Yield: 6-8 servings.

elle-50-x-50-aviKeeping it classy with some Waffle House Triple Chocolate pie, provided by Sara Lee.

 

I imagine it is hard to believe, but I’m not too big a fan of pie. *gasp* The beautiful slice of pie shown above has not passed by my lips in almost four years; a tragedy, I say. The whipped cream, the smooth chocolate pudding, the crushed up Oreos sprinkled on top, and the best for last, the Oreo crust. Ooh, giving myself that p(ie)henomenal feeling, I must be alone now.

heidi-50-x-50-aviHeidi’s Tribute to Southern Pies

I live in Memphis, and other than the giant pandas at the zoo, the only consistently good thing about Memphis is the food. This is the South. They know their pie. As a northerner by birth, I grew up with apple pie, rhubarb pie, pumpkin pie, and cherry pie (image below). I was unaware that I was missing out on three of the best pies in the hierarchy of pies.

Pecan Pie. Of course, we have pecan pie in the north, but we don’t *really* have pecan pie in the north. Why? Because northerners tend not to know how to effectively bake with bourbon. ‘Nuff said. Another variation of this is the chocolate pecan pie, which should probably be illegal.

Chess Pie. It’s like a custard pie (which originated in England), but with the added ingredient of cornmeal. Trust. (If a teaspoon of vinegar is added to it to cut down on the sweetness, it is called “Vinegar Pie” or sometimes “Jefferson Davis Pie” because, well, it’s the South…)

Sweet Potato Pie. My favorite of all the pies, this is similar to a pumpkin pie in appearance, but far superior in texture and flavor. The creamy filling is made with sweet potatoes, milk, sugar, and eggs, and baked in an open shell crust. Some people (*cough* heathens *cough*) add marshmallows to the top, but that’s not the southern way.

(And if you ever find yourself in Memphis, may I recommend going to Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken not only for their fried chicken, but for their delicious pie or to Muddy’s Bake Shop who have an array of tasty pies on their menu.)

My dad baked this...with cherries that he picked from his own tree that morning. o.O

My dad baked this…with cherries that he picked from his own tree that morning. o.O

Although my dad tweaks recipes too much to share them, my mom makes a pie very similar to this, and it is delicious. Three words: Caramel. Apple. Pie.

Caramel Apple Pie
Ingredients:
CRUMB TOPPING
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons butter or 2 tablespoons margarine, softened
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
PIE
6 cups baking apples, sliced, peeled
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1 unbaked pastry shell/pie crust (9 inches)
28 caramels
1 (5 ounce) can evaporated milk

Directions:
1. Combine flour, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon; spread into an ungreased 8-in. square baking pan.
2. Bake at 400 F for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown.
3. Cool; crumble and set aside. Sprinkle apples with lemon juice. Combine sugar, flour and cinnamon; toss with apples.
4. Place apples in pie shell.
5. Cut a circle of foil to cover apples but not the edge of pastry; place over pie. Bake at 425 F for 10 minutes.
6. Reduce heat to 375 F; bake for 35 minutes or until apples are tender.
7. Meanwhile, in a saucepan over low heat, melt caramels with milk , stirring frequently.
8. Remove foil from pie. Pour caramel mixture over apples.
9. Sprinkle with topping; return to the oven for 5 minutes.
10. Serve warm.

liz-50-x-50-aviI love a good apple pie or pumpkin pie as much as the next person, but I also love an unconventional pie. Like sweet and salty Guinness chocolate pie with beer marshmallow meringue. I also like pies in unconventional ways. When I was little my grandma made us pie crust cookies. Nowadays people make pies as pops or as shots. They make them in jars. They make them with cinnamon roll crusts.

Sweet and Salty Guinness Pie from Sprinkle Bakes.

I say yes, please and thank you, to all of the above.

If you want great pie, and you’re in the Chattanooga area check out Fork and Pie Bar. If you’re in the Milwaukee area check out Honeypie.

And if you want to make me the happiest pie-eater in the whole universe, start a pie delivery service. Preferably in Milwaukee. Or maybe just bring me a pie, because now I could really use some.

meg-50-x-50-aviEverything is Better With Nuts

Growing up in rural southeastern Virginia, pies were something that always held a place of honor at any holiday meal. Sweet potato, lemon chess, chocolate, even peanut (hey, we’re talking the peanut capital of the world, here! We can, and do, put peanuts in EVERYTHING!) but the one that always brings back the fondest memories is pecan pie. Pronounced pee-can. Because that’s the only way to say it. The end. I asked my mom for her recipe and she emailed me a scanned copy that she ripped out of the local newspaper probably thirty five years ago. Charming, innit?

Every Christmas my mom spent several days baking pecan pies for just about everyone in town. Our neighbors, teachers, friends and family all got a pie, wrapped up in aluminum foil with a bow stuck on top. No nametag because everyone knew who it was from, even if it was left on the front porch because no one was home when she stopped by to drop it off. I’m not a huge fan of pecan pie but when the house started to smell like Karo syrup and baking crust and ~Christmas…well, who can resist that? Going to the store for pecan pie supplies was what ushered in the holiday season for me. And when people started dropping off plastic grocery bags full of pecans from the trees in their yards, well, fa la la la. Santa was just around the corner.

These days my mom doesn’t bake for the entire town anymore. But she always, without fail, makes at least one pie every Christmas for a family friend, someone who was around long before I was even born. He always says that it’s his favorite part of the holiday season. Every Christmas Eve when we drive home for a simple service outside in the park across the street from the house I grew up in, surrounded by old friends and new neighbors and under the bright December stars, there’s always a pecan pie waiting in the backseat of the car for him, a shiny red bow on top of it and no name tag. After thirty five years it definitely doesn’t need one.

I refuse to post the recipe for a peanut pie that doesn’t come directly from The Virginia Diner in Wakefield, VA because it just wouldn’t be the same. Trust me on this. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like they ship pies so you’ll just have to come visit me if you want to try it. But let me tell you, there is NOTHING in this world better than a few slices of salty Virginia ham, a slice of peanut pie and glass of iced tea. Nothing.

And I’m including a recipe (taken from this church cookbook) for tomato pie because apparently a lot of folks have never heard of it? idk but you are really missing out. Try it one summer day. But for the love of god, don’t use store bought tomatoes. Only farm stand fresh will do. Pair it with slices of cucumbers soaked in vinegar and maybe some fresh steamed shrimp. And corn on the cob.

omfg pls excuse me while I go have a foodgasm now. *wanders off drooling*

Are you celebrating Pi Day? Do you have a fabulous pie recipe that we must try? Share with us in the comments.

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Liz Keysmash

Liz has a ginger kitty named Thackery Binx who chirps like a bird and plays fetch like a dog. She reads a lot of slash, and writes a bit as well. She thinks she’s a good cook, she brews beer, she's a total nerd about baseball, she reads YA fiction, she has recently rediscovered her love of pop music, she swears like a sailor.
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  • http://twitter.com/daleked daleked

    THESE ARE ALL AND GOOD BUT WHERE ARE THE SAVOURY PIES.

    • Heidi Keysmash

      Tomato pie is savory! I think in my case, I just never grew up eating savory pies. I also kind of feel like once you start doing savory pies, you are headed toward the slippery slope into tart and quiche country…and while delicious, there might be an argument there for a category mistake. I’m thinking about this way too much. Why don’t you share with us your favorite savory pies??? *nods*

      • http://twitter.com/daleked daleked

        :-D BRILLIANT IDEA! Well, there are loads. Meat pies, f’rinstance. PORK PIE. Most people go ‘ew’, because of four words: pig trotters and aspic. There’s something about jellies that frightens off the most daring of people, and I’ve been told that cooking the trotters looks frightfully macabre. I love it that way, having grown up on vinegar-pork-trotters-with-hardboiled-eggs-in-gravy. Ideally, the best pork pie has fatty meat in for the flavour. Meat that marbles well is good– think berkshire. The belly, jowl, shoulder… YUM!

        I don’t make it personally, but whenever I visit my mum or my uncle in Belgium, they bake one specially for me ;-D

  • Heidi Keysmash

    My mouth is watering. I might make sweet potato pie this weekend, Brie, and I am blaming you for this entirely.

    I can’t even put a coherent sentence together about the sweet and salty Guinness pie. I would never make it to the pie stage, I would just eat the filling. That sounded dirty. Unintentional, I swear.

    I still don’t understand how I didn’t know that peanut pie and tomato pie were things. My area of the South is slacking.

    • Liz Keysmash

      I am definitely making a tomato pie ASAP. I didn’t even know that EXISTED, and now that I do I feel like my life will be forever changed.

    • Liz Keysmash

      Also, I’ve made that sweet and salty pie, and it is orgasmic.

  • Cass

    I want ALL THE PIE but my heart and soul for good, tart, key lime .

    • Liz Keysmash

      YES. Real key lime. Not neon fake key lime flavoring. It’s hard to find here, unless you’re in the Florida Keys.

      • Boo

        yeah we only have the neon stuff in stores here but i’ve made it with normal limes and.. it’s just not the same :( :(

  • Danielle

    Key Lime pie is probably my favourite after Egg and Bacon pies. I’ve been a vegetarian for about 2 years now, and I thank Quorn every day for their bacon because otherwise I might have to sacrifice my morals for a bacon sarnie and a cuppa on a Sunday morning.

    Egg and Bacon pie is also a firm favourite savoury pie because it’s easy as shit. Pastry in a dish, put some bacon slices on the pastry, crack a couple of eggs in a (different) dish and mix them with some milk, pour the eggy-milk stuff into your pastry base, slap a pastry top on it and bake for as long as pies normally take. When it comes out it’s like scrambled egg and bacon but with pastry and its wonderful.

    I’m really craving pie now.

    A couple of these I’d only heard about on telly, and I’m pretty sure sweet potato is something I’m never going to enjoy, but I really fancy trying that Caramel Apple Pie. And the peanut one, even if I have to make it myself. GUH that looks amazing.

    Happy Pi Day!!

    • Brie Keysmash

      Ummmmmm egg and bacon pie?? I need to get in on this!

      • Danielle

        Absolutely best. It can be breakfast pie or lunch pie or dinner pie or inbetween pie (my favourite is midnight snack pie) but yes! And the eggs go all scrambly! And if you like your bacon crispy cook it first because it goes quite mushy when you bake it :)

  • http://twitter.com/sallyricks Sallyricks

    This might have given me new resolve to conquer baking a pie successfully. I love baking but can never get the crust right. It’s extra embarrassing because my mother makes the best crust and I am just a failure at it. Heidi, your dad’s crust looks AMAZING.

    I’m lucky that near me is a pie store owned by 2 British expats which sells sweet pies and traditional British savory pies. I haven’t gotten the nerve up to try their Steak & Kidney pie yet, but maybe one of these days.

    My favorite is definitely pecan pie. I’m a bit of a pecan pie snob and my southern Granny’s recipe is the gold standard to me. PAH!

    • Brie Keysmash

      Anything that is cooked/baked by a person from the south immediately trumps anything done by anyone else. I have the same thing with my grandma. Sorry but no one else’s fried chicken compares.