Right this minute, the entire mid-Altantic and northeast regions of the U.S. are getting hammered by a blizzard. Even here in our forested western North Carolina cove, there are blustery winds and tiny snowflakes tossing every which way. Spring might be slated for a mere week from now, but winter is definitely giving us a last hurrah.
Today, though, is all about pie, or Pi, as it were. As defined by Wikipedia “The number π is a mathematical constant, the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, commonly approximated as 3.14159. It has been represented by the Greek letter “π” since the mid-18th century, though it is also sometimes spelled out as “pi” (/paɪ/).” And because I love a good pun, and cheekiness in general, what better way to celebrate math, and pie, and the intersection of mid-March (3/14) with almost spring than to bake. Amiright?
To that end, I present you with my recipe for Honey Pie. Sweet without being cloyingly so, this is the kind of pie that you bake, and then, poof, it disappears. You, and those in your home, will keep creeping back for additional slices and bites and before you know it, the pie has been completely consumed. I guarantee it. It’s that good. And, because hope always springs eternal, as it were, we topped the pie with forsythia and quince blooms from our yard (both of which are edible), and fried sage leaves, for a bit of spring cheer.
Happy Pi day, happy Pie Day, happy almost-spring, and happy Wednesday!
ALSO: Spring-y pies from years past:
Honey Pie (from A Year Of Pies: A Seasonal Tour of Home Baked Pies, Ashley English, Lark Books, 2012)
Given a good supply of available nectar, honeybees will have honey ready to harvest in late spring. This custard-based pie showcases honey’s ambrosial qualities with every bite. Incredibly easy to make, this pie would make a wonderful gift for your own “Sweetie.” If you want to really guild the lily, serve a slice with a small glass of honey mead.
Makes: One 9-inch pie.
You will need:
½ recipe Basic Pie Dough (recipe below)
-1 cup whole milk
-4 large eggs, room temperature
-1/2 cup honey
-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-Pinch of salt
-Nutmeg, freshly grated
Prepare the crust:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of your pie pan.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface and fit it into a 9-inch pie pan. Trim the crust overhang to 1 inch and crimp the edges decoratively. Prick the bottom of the crust 6-7 times with a fork, then place the crust in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
Line the piecrust with parchment and fill it with dried beans or pie weights. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, then remove from the oven, leaving the oven at 400 degrees F. Remove the dried beans or pie weights and parchment paper from the crust, and cool it completely before filling.
Prepare the filling:
Warm the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. Watch carefully and remove the pan from the heat just before bubbles begin forming on the surface of the milk. Set aside. Whisk the eggs, honey, vanilla, and salt in a medium-size bowl. Add the warmed milk to the egg mixture slowly, whisking in a bit at a time before adding more. Once all of the milk is added to the egg mixture, whisk thoroughly to ensure all of the ingredients are fully incorporated.
Assemble the pie:
Pour the filling mixture into the prepared crust, and then grate fresh nutmeg liberally over the surface.
Place the pie pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Cool at least 1 hour before serving.
Basic Pie Dough
Makes 2 pie dough disks
You Will Need:
-2½ cups all-purpose flour
-1¼ teaspoons salt
-1 cup butter, chilled and cubed
-¾ cup ice water
Mix the flour and salt together in a medium-large mixing bowl. Using a pastry cutter or two forks incorporate the butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal (you should still have rather large bits of butter when you’re done). Slowly drizzle in the ice water. Stir with a mixing spoon until the dough starts to clump.
Transfer the dough onto a floured work surface, and fold it together into itself using your hands. The dough should come together easily but should not feel overly sticky. Cut the dough in half and shape into two balls. Wrap each dough ball in cellophane and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Proceed according to the recipe instructions. Alternately, store the dough disks in an airtight container or zippered freezer bag in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months (you’ll need to move the dough out of the freezer and into the refrigerator 24 hours before you plan to use it).
I try not to have favorites. I really do. Putting that qualifier-“favorite”-on anything puts undo pressure on both myself and on the object of my attention. Favorite songs, favorite movies, favorite restaurants; it’s all just a seriously slippery slope from adulation to expectation. That said, I really do think apples are my favorite fruit. I can’t help it. If my family had a coat of arms, I think apples would be on them.
To that end, I thought I’d share with you a few of my apple pie recipes from A Year Of Pies. Featured on two websites, the North Carolina periodical Our State and the Canadian blog The Art of Doing Stuff, don’t be surprised if you find yourself professing hyperbolic fruit preferences yourself.
And for those of you looking to step up your pie dough-making skills, check out this post I did on crafting perfect pie dough on Design Sponge several years ago.
What about you? Have a beloved apple recipe? I’d love to hear about it!
For pretty much the entire day today, I’ve been repeating a phrase silently to myself. “Pay attention to what you pay attention to.” I’ve been reminding myself, with gentle nudges, to notice and note the activities and tasks that I’m most drawn to, that bring me the deepest satisfaction and joy, that feel less like work and more like, well, like living. By paying attention to what you pay attention to, to what perks you up, gets your creative juices flowing, and comes effortlessly because it’s what you desire and crave, you do yourself a huge service. You create and carve out a life that brings fulfillment, that feels like breathing, not gasping for air.
Which totally relates to how I feel about baking this pie. I’ve made it twice in the past 5 days. When I’m baking, I’m jamming. Which is to say that, for me, baking comes naturally. It’s what I most prefer to do in the kitchen. When flour and sugar and butter and fruit and flavorings mix and mingle, I’m a happy lady.
Strawberry season is seriously in affect. I picked a flat of organic strawberries at the farm down the road from me this past Friday (for only $18, friends!). This pie was the obvious and necessary means of heightening the happiness that strawberries bring me. When I’m making pie dough, I am fully present. I’m not thinking about anything other than making the pie dough, searching for the tactile and visual cues giving me the head’s up that the dough has reached its sweet spot. It’s never an effort, or a chore, or a labor. It’s an opportunity to engage all of my senses, to get me out of my ever-loving mind, and to tether me firmly to time and place. It might look like a pie, but really, its an exercise in mindfulness.
Want to Zen out on pie-making yourself? Here you go.
Strawberry Crumble Pie (from A Year of Pies: A Seasonal Tour of Home Baked Pies)
Makes: One 9-inch pie.
You Will Need:
-2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 1/4 teaspoons salt
-1 cup butter (2 sticks), chilled and cubed
-3/4 cup ice water
-1 ½ pounds strawberries, stemmed and halved
-1/3 cup cornstarch
-1/3 cup sugar
-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
Make the Pie Dough:
Mix the flour and salt together in a medium-large mixing bowl. Using a pastry cutter or two forks, incorporate the butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal, but with several pea and lima bean-sized butter bits in the mix. Slowly drizzle in the ice water. Stir with a mixing spoon until the dough starts to clump.
Transfer the dough onto a floured work surface and fold it together into itself using your hands. The dough should come together easily but shouldn’t feel overly sticky. Divide the dough in half and shape into two flattened disks. Wrap each dough ball in cellophane and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Prepare the crust:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Remove one disk of dough from the refrigerator, saving the other to use within the next few days or placing it in an airtight bag in the freezer for future use. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and fit it into a 9-inch pie pan. Trim the crust overhang to 1-inch and crimp the edges decoratively. Prick the bottom of the crust about 6-7 times with a fork, then place the crust in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Line the piecrust with parchment and fill it with dried beans or pie weights. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, and then remove from the oven, leaving the oven on. Remove the dried beans or pie weights and parchment, and cool it completely before filling.
Prepare the filling:
Combine the strawberries, cornstarch and sugar in a medium-size mixing bowl. Set aside.
Prepare the crumble topping:
Combine the flour, salt, brown sugar, and butter in a medium-size mixing bowl. Crumble together with either your hands or with a pastry cutter, leaving pea-sized chunks of butter in the mixture. Set aside.
Assemble the pie:
Pour strawberry mixture into the prepared piecrust. Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly across the surface, packing down as needed to accommodate the entire amount of the mixture. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes, until the topping is golden brown. Cool the pie at least 1 hour before serving.
You know what I’ve been thinking about lately? What I’ve been pining over, and hankering for, and otherwise consumed with? Pie. That’s right, friends. My thoughts, words, and, yes, even actions lately have been pie-related, pie-centric, pie-focused.
Of course, pie is great year round. That’s the overarching mantra of my book-that pie is a treat not to be baked up and trotted out solely during the holidays, when thoughts turn to pumpkin and pecan and apple pies, or during the months of summer, when blueberries and blackberries are practically begging to be baked into hot submission. No, no. Pie is a perennial palate pleaser (say that 5 times fast!), to be delighted in each season.
All that said, lately it’s just been what I want to bake and eat. I intend to do so tomorrow night, in fact, baking the Strawberry Crumble Top Pie from my book, but adding in rhubarb and serving it with lemon balm whipped cream for a dear friend who’s coming over for dinner. Maybe it’s all the strawberries I’m beginning to see at the markets, and the rhubarb, too. Perhaps it’s the smell in the air, laced with roses and grass and dew and moisture. Whatever it is, it’s pushing my pie button, and I intend to indulge it.
And so should you! To make sure you will be partaking of pie and doing your part towards enjoying this treat, I’m giving away a signed copy of A Year of Pies to one small measure reader. Pie, all up in your kitchens, friends!
To enter the giveaway, leave a comment telling me what pie you’d like to make. It can be one of my recipes, or your great aunt Edna’s, or Ina Garten’s, or even your own recipe. The pie’s the limit! I’ll run the giveaway for one week, concluding next Thursday, May 30th, midnight EST. Canadians, feel free to join in the pie fun! Please do leave a means of contacting you should you be the winner, via either a link back to your website or blog or by leaving your email address in your comment.
Go forth, friends, and pie it up!
It’s Pi Day, friends. And while technically that means a celebration of ” the mathematical constant that is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter and is approximately equal to 3.14159″ (thank you, Google!), when you love pie like I do, it’s also an opportunity (er, excuse?) to enjoy a bit or two of something delectable. Also, I’m feeling especially full of pie enthusiasm given that my book is the #1 selling pie book on Amazon on Pi Day (which Glenn lovingly photographed and surprised me with-he’s my biggest fan, truly). How cool is that?!
To that end, I’m sharing a spring-themed recipes from A Year of Pies with you here today. Frozen Strawberry Pie is my chilly homage to a close childhood friend, Erica, and a sweet, frosty way to get you pumped about spring (just a week away!). On Pi Day, I say, let them eat pie!!!
Frozen Strawberry Pie
This is my attempt at recreating a pie from my youth. When I was around 10 years old, my good friend Erica and her older sister made a yogurt and fresh strawberry frozen pie that was the very definition of spring. My version includes the addition of heavy cream and cradles the entire ethereal concoction in a homemade graham-cracker crust. While opting for a pre-made version might be tempting, resist! This crust is the absolute perfect ratio of sweet-crunchy harmony. Although Erica and I long ago fell out of touch, I like to think that, should she happen upon this recipe, she’d feel I did her beloved pie justice.
Makes: One 9-inch pie
You Will Need:
*Graham Cracker Crust (recipe follows)
*9-inch pie pan
*2 cups whole-milk vanilla yogurt
*3 tablespoons honey
*2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
*1 cup heavy cream
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Graham Cracker Crust
*8 ounces graham crackers (about 2 cups)
*8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
*2 tablespoons granulated sugar
*1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Optional garnish 1/2 cup strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
Prepare the graham cracker crust
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Crush the graham crackers either by pulsing them in a food processor or placing them in in a plastic freezer bag and rolling over them with a rolling pin.
Combine the crushed graham crackers, melted butter, sugar, and salt in a medium-size bowl and stir until fully mixed.
Press the mixture into the 9-inch pie plate, covering the bottom evenly and pressing the crumbs halfway up the sides.
Bake the crust 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and cool completely before filling.
Prepare the filling
Combine the yogurt and honey in a large bowl. Stir in the 2 cups strawberries.
In a medium-size bowl, using a mixer or a whisk, beat the cream and vanilla until billowy peaks form.
Fold the whipped cream into the strawberry mixture.
Assemble the pie
Pour the filling mixture into the cooled crust. If desired, arrange sliced strawberries in a circle around the outer edge of the pie.
Freeze at least 4 hours before serving.