The true value of Pie (not Π)

Traditional "short crust"
Traditional “short crust”

Happy Π day, guys. Have some pictures of pie. If you choose to combine the two to judge the total volume of leftover slices in any of these photos, feel free.

But I’d say the true value went into the fun of choosing a recipe, fiddling with the ingredients and “design”, sharing them with friends and family and, of course, eating them.

Choosing a recipe: traditional? international? savory? sweet? seasonal?

Designing the pie: Patterned pastry? Display the ingredients? Or create a zombie binary? (I’ll leave that example to my brother)

Sharing: make two, probably. Leave one at home, or take both so the recipient can keep one to themselves and share the other?

Easy as Pie

A good pie starts with a good crust – I stick to the basics for traditional pastry: 1:3 proportion of shortening to flour, with just enough water to hold them together. A single crust pie is 1/3 cup shortening, 1 cup flour.

I mix with my hands so I can tell when the texture is right and the #1 trick is to keep the shortening cold and the water icy so it doesn’t mix too much and get gummy and touch.  Other methods include grated frozen butter – a rich dough my brother is partial to – or using a food processor to cut in the fat to the flour. Some people even make oil crusts, though I can’t say I have.

Back to the Basics

I’m a big fan of traditional dessert pies – apple, pumpkin, humble pie. Humble pie is not merely a metaphor for having to publicly display that you know you were wrong – an unpleasant sensation – it is also a on old-fashioned concoction of strawberries and rhubarb. Which is, to me, an entirely delicious sensation that always says spring is truly here, since we can grab both from our garden if we wish.

Pie Presents

Pie comes in so many flavors, but seem tied to scent and visual memories more than cake for many of our friends. I’ve made pies for graduation presents because I wanted to bring in some good memories from family celebrations past or for birthday presents to bring back memories of a favorite local bakery:

Thanksgiving Pies

You can’t do Thanksgiving in our house without at least two kinds of traditional pies, though our traditions are likely to include homemade Concord Grape Pie, not one you’ll find in many bakeries or cookbooks.

International Pies

You’re more likely to find meat pies when you explore beyond the basics of American cuisine, though of course they’re very traditional in the UK. The Italian meat pie below is more of an American invention, layering spinach and ricotta with meat sauce, tomatoes, and cheese. Bisteeya is a Moroccan version of Chicken pie that is hardly recognizable compared to our common types – and completely delicious.

Custom Variations

The credit for the most visually interesting pies on this list goes to my brother, who was feeling inspired for a friend’s Halloween party one year:

Although I made the traditional apple pie while listening/watching a season or so of Walking Dead and then it appears the zombies manifested in the pie itself in the next apple one.

So: what are your favorite kinds of pie? Or the oddest ones you’ve made/eaten?

Also, if you’d like recipes for any of the ones posted above let me know in a comment and I’ll dig out actual instructions and step by step photos. 🙂

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