14 Mar The Best Pie (Day)
We like to think there’s a silent “e” at the end of Pi, because March 14 should be about eating pie not calculating the circumference of a circle. After all, the circumference of a circle is calculated by the number of slices in the pie, right? So to honor this math holiday gone rogue we’re sharing our favorite traditions for eating pie and our best tips for the ultimate pie crust.
To say the Earth Fare team is passionate about making and eating food is an understatement. We can always talk about food and a (very serious) meeting on pie was a no-brainer. Here are some of our favorite memories from the team:
52 Kinds of Pie. Why celebrate such a delicious treat just one day a year? Our Senior Digital Manager decided pie deserved a bigger spotlight and took the ultimate pie exploration by tasting a new kind of pie each week for an entire year. Now that’s the kind of New Year resolution we can get behind!
The Giving Tree. If fruit had a sole purpose in life it would be to fill pie. The grandfather of our Demo Coordinator planted an apple tree and a cherry tree when she was born for her and her sister. Those trees were the catalyst of many pies over the years and some of the best memories!
One more reason for peanut butter. Is there anything peanut butter doesn’t go with? Just imagine a melt in your mouth peanut butter pie. It’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser in our team.
The great pumpkin escapade #1. It’s no secret that pumpkin pie reminds us of fall. But for one person on our team it’s not a memory of a season but instead an infamous tumble. A little “trip” carrying the Thanksgiving pumpkin pie had our Production Manager worried that she had ruined the family holiday. (Luckily just enough pie landed back in the pan.)
The great pumpkin escapade #2. There’s also another unfortunate pumpkin pie incident when the sugar was forgotten during baking. Lesson: sugar is the key ingredient in pumpkin pie.
Making pie crust is a rite of passage for any baker or cook. Once you master the crust the possibilities for filling are endless! A new trick never hurts, whether you’re a novice starter or a seasoned expert. So here are a few favorite tips for the perfect pie crust from Earth Fare’s talented baking team:
Better with butter. There’s a variety of recipes for pie crust, ranging from butter and lard to shortening. But nothing beats a flaky, buttery crust. The key is to use a high-quality, high-fat butter.
The cold hard facts. Flaky crust comes from maintaining some separation between the flour and the butter. So it is absolutely essential to work with cold butter! Freezing ½ to ¾ of the butter called for in the recipe will help if you live in a warm climate (or have warm hands). You can also chill the bowl and the flour.
Old-fashioned is never out of fashion. Making pie connects you to generations of bakers past. While tools like food processors and pastry blenders may make for easier work, some people swear by the simple process of rubbing the cold pieces of butter between your fingertips into the flour. This creates flakes instead of chunks.
How the dough crumbles. Adding water for the right consistency is not as hard as it sounds. You want the dough to be moist but not wet. Add the water in small amounts and check the dough each time – it should resemble uneven bread crumbs and only hold together when squeezed between the fingers. Use ice water for the best results as it keeps everything cold.
Take the time to chill. Rushing the pie making process is a mistake – it’s an art after all. Allow the dough to chill for at least one hour before attempting to roll it out. You want the dough cold and firm but not rock hard. This will keep those flaky buttery pieces intact.
How we roll. We prefer French Rolling Pins for rolling out dough because they allow for more consistent pressure and control. Try ‘rolling around the clock’ to ensure consistency and ease pressure as you reach the edge so it doesn’t become too thin.
Easy on the flour. It’s important to flour the surface before rolling, but don’t overdo it. Too much flour at this stage can make your crust tough (in a bad way). One way to prevent this is to roll the dough out between two pieces of parchment paper, which also allows you to neatly transfer the dough from the surface to the pan.
Chill out, again. If the dough gets sticky at any point take a deep breath and don’t fret. Simply stop what you’re doing and refrigerate the dough. You may also want to place the dough in the freezer once it’s in the pan to help maintain its shape during baking.
Don’t forget to blind bake. Blind baking, or pre-baking, is the key to a crunchy crust (especially for those tasty custard pies). This step also helps ensure your dough puffs up evenly. You can blind bake 24 hours before you fill a pie. No need for pie weights, you can line the pie shell with parchment paper and pour in rice or beans. uncooked rice or beans work just as well.
That crispy edge. For that extra crisp on the crust, bake filled pies in a lightweight metal dish, atop a pre-heated, rimmed baking sheet. Foil placed over the edge of the crust works too (but don’t cover the center or the pie will steam).
Your crust, your choice. Once you fill the pie there are endless ways to crust the top. Here’s a rundown of the top choices and what personality they might have: Lattice Top is meticulous and organized; Whole Top is traditional and humble; Cut-Out Top is quirky and original; and Crumble Top is free-spirited and sweet.
On a time crunch. Homemade doesn’t have to suffer when you’re in a hurry. You can freeze a whole, unbaked fruit pie ahead of time. Simply put the frozen pie straight into the oven (no need to defrost) and add 15 minutes to the standard baking time.