It’s Pi Day!

It’s March 14th, otherwise known as Pi Day! So named, because of the irrational number 3.14 that goes on infinitely. So, enjoy some pie today in honor of the day. Not a fan of pie, have a slice of pizza from a pizza pie or try your hand at a savory pie, like a quiche. Or, you could out on a limb and have some cheesecake. I actually baked a cheesecake a few years ago in honor of the day. I’ve also made a Banana Cream Pie and a Blueberry Pie as well to honor the day.

I was in search of a new pie to make for today and was stumped. I flipped through an entire book dedicated to pies and nothing popped at me and then I remembered I had a bag of shredded coconut in my cabinet that I had purchased to make crispy coconut cookies – which I haven’t gotten around to – so, I decided on a Coconut Custard Pie. This is actually one of my favorite pies from my youth. I remember my Dad bringing home the Entenmann’s version from the supermarket when I was a kid. Unfortunately, Entenmann’s has discontinued it, so the flavor is a distant memory now. I actually tried making Coconut Custard Pie once before and it came out horrible because I didn’t use whole milk and I think the missing fat from the milk was the leading culprit of my failing. The custard never formed.

Thankfully I had no issues with this pie… The custard formed, the shredded coconut rose to the top during baking and it was the perfect balance of the coconut flavor and sweetness.

 

 

Coconut Custard Pie

Ingredients:

1 homemade or store bough 9-inch pie crust*

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

3 eggs, at room temperature, beaten

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup shredded sweetened coconut

1 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature

3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract**

nutmeg

 

*I used a frozen deep-dish one

**For a more of coconut flavor used coconut extract

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Arrange pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate.

In a large bowl combine the butter, eggs, flour, sugar, coconut, milk and vanilla extract. Use a hand mixer to blend all of the ingredients together. Make sure the sugar is dissolved.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust and sprinkle with nutmeg. Bake in the preheated oven for 45-60 minutes, covering the edges of the pie with aluminum foil for the first 25 minutes and then remove. Pie will be ready when the custard has puffed up – sides and center.

Remove from the over and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Bunny’s Warm Oven

Lattice-Top Blueberry Pie

It’s Pi day! And no, I didn’t spell that wrong. Today is 3/14, the first 3 numbers for Pi. The Greek letter that is a symbol in mathematics to represent a constant – the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. It’s an irrational and transcendental number, i.e. it will go on infinitely without repetition or a pattern. Have I bored you yet? Sorry… On to the Pie. In honor of Pi Day, I decided to bake a pie I had never had before, a blueberry pie. A Lattice-Top Blueberry Pie to be exact. Yes, I never had Blueberry Pie until I made this one. I must say, I am not a big pie eater, especially fruit pie. I always feel like they are going to be super sweet. What made this pie a hit amongst those who tried it was the fact that it wasn’t super sweet. Something I was quite happy about as well.

I’m not a fan of making pie crust from scratch so I buy Pillsbury refrigerated crust. I find it works just as well as homemade crust – I am sure there are plenty of you shaking your heads at that comment right now – and its super easy to use to make a decorative crust. And another plus, clean-up is a cinch! So after letting my two crusts (one for the top and one for the bottom) come to room temperature I rolled out what would be the bottom into a 13 inch round; the crust was already a 9-inch round so I had no problem rolling it out the extra few inches. I then fitted it into my 9-inch pie plate.

Next, I made the filling. I combined 7 cups of fresh blueberries with sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch & lemon juice.

I then poured the mixture into the pie plate.

To make the lattice top, I started by rolling out the other half of the pie crust into another 13-inch round.  Then using a fluted pastry wheel I cut the dough into ten 1-inch strips. Thankfully my work mat has 1-inch grid lines on it so cutting out the strips was a breeze. I just had to be sure to cut in a straight steady line.

I placed five of the strips vertically on the pie, evenly spaced.

And then proceeded to fold and unfold the strips to create a lattice pattern.

I then trimmed and tucked in the edges of the crust and crimped it with a fork.

Next, I brushed the pie with an egg yolk-heavy cream egg wash and sprinkled sanding sugar on top.

And after refrigerating the pie for about a half hour in the fridge I placed it on a parchment lined baking sheet and baked it in a 400 F preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until the crust began to brown, and then lowered the oven to 350 F and continued baking the pie for about another hour, until the crust was a deep golden brown and the juices began to bubble. I kept the pie tented with aluminum foil for most of the baking time, removing it for the last 30 minutes of baking so the crust wouldn’t brown too quickly.

Lattice-Top Blueberry Pie

Ingredients:

Pie Crust – Bake your own or store bought

2 pounds (about 7 cups) fresh blueberries

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 large egg yolk, for egg wash

1 tablespoon heavy cream, for egg wash

Sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

On a lightly floured surface roll out half of your pie crust into a 13-inch round about 1/8-inch thick. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate.

In a large bowl combine the blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and lemon juice. Pour the mixture into the pie plate, piling in the center.

On a lightly floured surface roll out the other half of your pie crust. Once again into a 13-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. To make the lattice, cut the dough into 10 1-inch strips using a fluted pastry wheel or a pizza cutter. Carefully place the strips on the pie weaving into a lattice pattern. Trim the dough to a 1-inch overhang and fold the edges under, then crimp with a fork.

In a small bowl whisk together the egg yolk and heavy cream for the egg wash. Brush on top of the dough strips and then sprinkle with the sanding sugar.

Refrigerate or freeze the pie until firm, about 30 minutes.

Place the pie on a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet and bake until the pie begins to brown, about 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 F and continue baking until the crust is a deep golden brown and the juices begin to bubble, about an hour. If the crust begins to brown too quickly tent the pie with aluminum foil.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing in.

Recipe from Martha Stewart Pies and Tarts Book

 

 

 

Cheesecake… Is it a Pie or a Cake?

Well, for today the answer to that question is going to be pie in honor of Pi Day! Yes, it’s the day that Math lovers around the world celebrate in honor of Pi, the irrational number (meaning it cannot be written as the ratio of two integers) that begins with 3.14 and goes on infinitely. This year’s Pi Day is extra special though because it only comes around once every 100 years… The first five numbers of Pi Day is the date (3/14/15) and to go even further at the time 9:26:53 you will have the first ten numbers of Pi in sequence, i.e. 3.141592653. Okay, I’ll stop being a Math geek now and go back to the pie. The idea of cheesecake falling under the pie category isn’t too much a stretch, especially for this cheesecake. Pies tend to have a crust and this one has a graham cracker crust and they also have a filling, the cheesecake part. Okay, maybe it is a tad bit of a stretch, but, I really couldn’t think of a pie I wanted to make but I have wanted to make a cheesecake.

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I began by making the crust… Using a food processor I ground up 18 graham crackers until they were fine crumbs. I then added in a stick of melted butter, sugar and salt and pulse to combine them. Following that I pressed the crumbs into the bottom and approximately 2-inches up the side of a 9-inch springform pan.

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Next I moved on to make the actual cheesecake. Using a stand mixer I beat three 8-oz. bars of cream cheese with a cup of sugar until it was smooth. It’s important to use room temperature cream cheese to ensure you won’t have any lumps in the mixture.

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I then added in a cup of room temperature sour cream and a teaspoon of vanilla extract; beating until these two ingredients were well incorporated.

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And finally I added in three eggs, one at a time.

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Before pouring it into the crust, I gave the cream cheese mixture a few stirs with a rubber spatula to make sure all of the ingredients were blended together well. I tend to find that sometimes ingredients are left on the bottom of the bowl of the stand mixer untouched since the paddle attachment doesn’t fully hit the bottom of the bowl.

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After pouring the cream cheese mixture into the prepared crust I baked it in a preheated 325 F oven for about an hour; until it was set but still wobbly in the center.

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A few minutes before removing the cheesecake from the oven I combined a cup of sour cream, a few tablespoons of sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl. I was happy that the cheesecake didn’t have any cracks in it – that normally happens when I bake cheesecakes.

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I then spread this sour cream mixture over the cheesecake and then placed the cheesecake back in the oven for about five minutes.

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The cheesecake right out of the oven… I let it cool for a few hours before covering it and placing it in the refrigerator.

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I ended up leaving it in the refrigerator overnight and then added some sliced strawberries on top of it the following morning in the shape of the Greek letter used to represent “Pi.” I had to validate this being a Pi Day pie somehow!

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And how did it taste… It was perfectly creamy and not overly sweet! A winning combination for the perfect cheesecake!

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Classic Cheesecake

Ingredients:

18 graham crackers (2 sleeves)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup plus 4 tablespoons sugar

3 8-oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature

2 cups sour cream, at room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 large eggs, at room temperature

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. In a food processor pulse the graham crackers until fine crumbs form. Add the butter, salt and 2 tablespoons of the sugar and pulse to combine. Press the mixture on the bottom and 2-inches up the side of a 9-inch springform pan.

2. Use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese and 1 cup of sugar until smooth. Add 1 cup of the sour cream and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla extract and continue beating until combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Pour the mixture into the prepared crust and bake until just set (the center will be slightly wobbly), 50 to 60 minutes.

3. In a small bowl combine the remaining 1 cup of sour cream, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Spread over the hot cheesecake, then bake until set, 3 to 5 minutes more. Let cool to room temperature in pan, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Run a knife around the edge of cheesecake before unmolding.

 

In Honor of Pi Day… A Banana Cream Pie

Happy Pi Day! What can I say; I am a bit of a math geek. It was my favorite subject throughout school and I was a Mathematics/Economics major in college. I sometimes think that my love of math is what drives some of my hobbies. Take baking; it’s not like cooking where a pinch of this and that can turn out something great. If an ingredient is slightly off when you bake you may end up with something completely inedible. When you are knitting or crocheting (especially knitting) being off with your count can completely mess up whatever you are making and with beading and jewelry making symmetry is key and adding one extra bead, stone or whatever can completely throw off the aesthetics of the final product. But, back to Pi Day… We celebrate it on this day (March 14th) since the first three numbers of Pi are 3.14. Some other things to note about this lovely number… It’s irrational (meaning it cannot be written as a ratio,) it’s never ending (3.14159…) and the decimal never repeats. So, in honor of this day I decided to bake a pie – how original!?!? – not just any pie though a pie I have never actually tried before – a Banana Cream Pie. I thought about making this pie a few weeks ago when I had a few ripe bananas staring at me in my kitchen, but then they got eaten so I decided to save the pie for today.

So, I had every intention of making my pie crust from scratch, well, let me clarify, I did make one from scratch and although I followed the directions exactly after baking it for slightly less time that directed it still came out a bit overcooked so I just opted to go with a store bought crust and baked it according to the directions on the package. Unfortunately my edge was a little uneven but I knew that wouldn’t take away from the taste.

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While the crust was cooling I began making the banana cream filling. To begin I prepped those ingredients that needed a bit of prepping: slicing three bananas, separating four eggs for the yolks and cutting up 2 tbsp. of butter.
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In a medium saucepan I combined sugar, cornstarch and salt and then whisked in milk. I cooked this over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture was thick and bubbling.
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I then whisked the milk mixture in with the eggs yolks. 
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After the milk and eggs were completely incorporated I returned the mixture to the saucepan and cooked it over medium heat once again stirring it constantly until it boiled.
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I then strained the mixture through a sieve…
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And then mixed in the butter and once it was melted I folded in the bananas.
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It was then time to pour the banana cream into the cooled pie crust and then cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it until the cream was set.
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Once the pie was set I made a whipped cream topping for it and sprinkled it with shaved chocolate curls.
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Banana Cream Pie

Ingredients:

All-purpose flour, for dusting

1 recipe Pate Brisee to Make Two 9-Inch Single-Crust Pies or One Double-Crust or Lattice-Crust Pie (http://www.marthastewart.com/258439/pate-brisee), use 1 disc and reserve remaining disc for another use*

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

4 large egg yolks

2 cups whole milk

2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

3 ripe bananas, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced crosswise

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

2 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 block (about 5 ounces) bittersweet chocolate

*I opted to use a store-bought pie crust

Directions 

1. Make the crust: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough into a 14-inch round (1/4 inch thick). Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim dough to extend above edges by 1 inch, fold under, and crimp. Prick bottom with a fork, and freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Cut a large round of parchment paper (about 11 inches), and place in pie shell, allowing excess to extend above edges. Fill with pie weights. Freeze until cold, about 10 minutes.

2. Bake crust 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Remove pie weights and parchment, and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes more. Let cool on a wire rack.

3. Make the filling: Combine granulated sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a bowl. Add egg yolks, and whisk until smooth. Bring milk to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup milk to yolk mixture in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly. Pour mixture into pan with hot milk, and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture begins to bubble and is very thick, about 6 minutes.

4. Pour milk mixture through a large-mesh sieve into a bowl. Add butter, and stir until melted. Fold in bananas. Pour into crust. Place plastic wrap directly on surface of filling to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

5. Make the topping: Beat together cream, sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form. Spread whipped cream over filling. Using a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon, shape topping into peaks.

6. Using a vegetable peeler, shave chocolate at a 45-degree angle, and scatter over pie. (You will only need about 1 ounce of chocolate for the shavings, but it will be easier to shave if you start with a larger piece than you need.) Serve.