Saturday, March 13, 2010

Pie to Seven Decimal Places: 3.1415926

In honor of Pi Day (3/14) I decided to create a geeked-out recipe.
This pie has:

3 different fruits
1 basic pie crust recipe
4 ingredients in the crumb topping
1 nutty ingredient
5 unique layers (bottom crust, three fruits, crumb topping)
9 added flavors in the fruit layers (3 in each)
2 ingredients in common in all the layers (butter and sugar)
6 (or 7) ingredients in the pie crust recipe, depending on whether you count water as an ingredient, and whether you round up (the next digit is 5.)

Enough math, let's have pie.

3.1415926 Pie
Use your favorite pie crust recipe for a single-crust pie, or buy one. I used a variation on the Foolproof Pie Dough from Cook's Illustrated, but among other things, I substituted whole wheat pastry crust for the regular flour. The six ingredients are: flour, sugar, salt, butter, shortening, vodka. And water.

The recipe for the Foolproof Pie Dough recipe is available at the Cook's Illustrated website only if you have a subscription, but Serious Eats also reprinted the recipe.

Have your pie dough chilling and resting while you continue with the rest of the process.

In a small bowl, mix well and set aside:
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Have standing ready:
1 pound bag frozen sliced peaches
1 pound bag frozen blueberries
4-5 large apples

Also have ready the nine additional flavors:
Fruit Fresh
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teapoon powdered lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon Fiori de Siclia
1/4 teaspoon galangal
fresh nutmeg

In three separate saute pans, melt in each pan:
1 tablespoon butter

Peel, core and thinly slice the apples into one of the saute pans. Lightly sprinkle Fruit Fresh over the apples to prevent browning (this also adds a bit of tartness. Lemon juice can be substituted). Saute the apples until they begin to soften.

Add 2 tablespoons of the sugar mixture, mix well and continue cooking until the apples, stirring often are soft and pliable but aren't falling apart, and the juices begin to thicken.

Take off the heat, add the maple extract and cinnamon and set aside.

In the second saute pan, add the peaches and cook until they begin to soften. Add 2 tablespoons of the sugar mixture and continue cooking, stirring often, until the juices thicken. Take off the heat, add the Fiori de Siclia, galangal and a few grates of fresh nutmeg.

Add the blueberries to the third saute pan and cook briefly until the begin to soften and give up juice. Add 3 tablespoons of the sugar mixture, stir well, and continue cooking until the mixture boils and the juices begin to thicken. Take off the heat, add the vanilla, dried lemon peel and allspice. Stir well.

There will be a little extra sugar mixture left. Divide it up, among the three bowls and stir it well.

Let the fruit mixtures cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.

While the fruit is cooling, get your pie crust ready in the pan, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and make the crumb topping.

For the crumb topping, you'll need:
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
6 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup macadamia nuts, very finely chopped.

Cut the crumb topping ingredients together with a pastry blender, two knives, a fork, or whatever works best for you. You want a crumbly texture with the butter well-incorporated. (Note: If you have left over scraps of pie dough, you can add that to the crumb topping as well, but it messes up the pi digits.)

Assembly and baking:
Spoon the blueberries into the crust, and even them out. Layer the peaches on top of the blueberries. You can make a decorative pattern, or just place them in an even layer. Top the peaches with the apples in a third even layer. Spread the crumb crust over the top.

Bake at 400 degrees on the bottom rack of the oven for about 50 minutes, or until the top crust is nicely browned. Let the pie cool completely before serving for easiest cutting and to keep the layers intact.

Notes on ingredients:
Fiori di Siclia is available from the King Arthur Flour website. It has a citrus-floral-vanilla flavor that reminds me of Dreamscicles. If you can't find it, you could substitute orange extract and vanilla.

Galangal is reminiscent of ginger, but it doesn't have as much bite. I got mine from Penzeys, but if you don't have it you could substitute ground ginger, but maybe a little less. Before I found galangal at Penzeys, I bought some from an ethnic market. It was nearly tasteless and somewhat gritty.


Unknown said...

Cutest idea and really original!

Joan said...

Very clever and looks delicious!

Anonymous said...

Very creative recipe and looks very yummy!

Anonymous said...

Okay, this is the best looking pie I have ever seen. I will try it.

Anonymous said...

You rock! I love, love, love it!

Charlie Garland said...

Here is a true "geek" comment (my apologies ahead of time). As a purist, I must say you should either re-title this as "The first 7 decimal places of Pi" or change the final number to 7, not 6. When you say " seven decimal places," the implication in that is that it is ROUNDED to 7 places. And, rounding would make that last digit a 7, not a 6. Some will say, "hey, wait a're supposed to round down to an even number." But that would be irrelevant in this case, because that popular rule only applies to the very last digit being a 5 (and the following implied digits being zeros, ad-infinitum). In this case, the digits following the 5 are NOT zeros...this makes the actual number (Pi) unquestionably closer to 3.1415927 than it does to 3.1415926, by any rounding standard :)

Yes, I am a geek. I admit it. But your pie (and your Pi) inspired me. Yum.

Donna Currie said...

Charlie - thanks for the math lesson. I probably knew that at one time, but in the midst of making pie, it fell right out of my head. Would it help if I blamed my calculator? ;-)

Anonymous said...

time consuming but sounds pretty delicious... thanks for explaining these new ingredients to me - Fiori di Sicla and galangal. I will look them up.

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