3 Pies Baked in Two Days! Happy Pi Day

Happy Pi Day! Pi (π) is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter and is a constant number, meaning that for all circles of any size, Pi will be the same. The diameter of a circle is the distance from edge to BLAH BLAH BLAH!! What Pi(e) Day really means, is that today is just another excuse to make, bake and devour delicious PIE without a care in the world! So that’s just what the Hell I plan to do! Happy PIE Day everyone! Now let’s take a look at what I’ve been baking for the last two days!

I have been so damn busy with so many other projects that some of my REAL passions have fallen by the wayside – The PIE ADDICT included. Oh, I’ve been experimenting with and trying my hand at various recipes both pie-related and not, but just haven’t had the time to talk a whole lot about the challenges and disasters I put myself through. In any case, I’m back now and what better day to tackle my favorite subject – PIE, than a day like today – Pi DAY!

First up – A Cinnamon Roll Apple Pie

Over the past weekend, I managed to squeeze in some ME-TIME in the kitchen (Wife was out and about around town, daughter was keeping to herself in her room, boys were at work, dog – laid out, basking in the warmth of the sunlight that spilled through the back windows), and tackle a pie project I had been so eagerly waiting for the opportunity to try – A Cinnamon Roll Apple Pie.

Who doesn’t like a good Cinnamon Roll? Now think about a warm, sweet (but tart) apple pie? Now put both of these awesome creations together? I’m telling you, you can’t imagine what that would taste like, and neither could I, but I really really wanted to! So I just happened to come across a quick and easy recipe on BUZZFEED on a recent article titled – You’ve Been Making Apple Pie Wrong This Entire Time. The recipe list was surprisingly short and a neat video accompanied it:

Now, I will be the first to admit to myself that I am really just an amateur when it comes to baking and pie making, so it was surprise that mine did not turn out the way it should have. Nor was it as simple (for ME anyways…) to put together. But I will tell you this, what I did taste was amazing! Indescribable! And I will definitely be making this again here in the next few weeks, now that I have TRIED to do it once and know now what I need to do to perfect my process.

Just a few things I FAILED on and will do better next time around:

  • Crust. Rolling out the cinnamon rolls (as seen in the video) was a bit more challenging to me than the pro in the video. The ‘sticky’ nature of the cinnamon roll slices gave me issues, sticking to my rolling pin and the rolling mat. I used flour per the video, however I had to use MORE than what they used, which created sort of a mess.
  • Baking. The baking time used in the video recipe was not remotely close to how long I needed to bake mine for (and this could be because I was using an older oven?). I have to bake, maybe another 20 minutes beyond, to get my top crust brown, and as I mention below, even this added time was not nearly enough. The apples also could have used even a little more time.
  • Pre-Bake. The bottom cinnamon roll crust layer was uncooked and gooey. Even after baking mine for another 20min or so, the bottom crust was a mess. Could be from a variety of things, including the juice from the apples. I’m not sure, but I have some ideas I may try the next time around. So the pie wasn’t really edible (at least all the way the down to the bottom crust). I am thinking I may consider ‘pre-baking the bottom cinnamon roll crust just to make sure? We’ll see…
  • Pie Filling. Also, I may have put a little too many apples in the pie? I tend to go heavy )or, heavier) on the pie filling and this may have attributed to the bottom crust not baking. Will learn to follow directions a little closer in the future!

Here are some images from my own attempts:
happy pi day

Happy Pi Day

happy pi day

happy pi day

happy pi day

So not the best experience for me out of the gates with this one, but from what I was able to taste, this could end up being one of my signature dishes. Stay tuned for more on this!

A Fan Favorite – Strawberries and Cream Pie

A close family friend of ours, recently added a new member to the roster, a little baby boy. So in light of this most awesome of events, I through together a fan favorite, my Strawberry and Cream Pie, with graham cracker crust. It never fails to please and it has become almost second nature now, for me to through this together. So, good pie for a good cause. Everyone is happy!
happy pie day

And lastly – The Skillet Apple Pie

And finally, for Pi Day, the local Indoor Soccer Arena (of which my wife and I frequent and play at), decided to have a Happy Pie Day potluck event this evening. So I was tasked with bringing a pie, of course. The Skillet Apple Pie is both delicious and one of my largest of pie dishes, so I elected to bake it for the festivities tonight.

In a matter of days I whipped out three pie dishes and by the end of the week, I will have added to that number – making a Brownie Bottom Pumpkin Cream Pie for my lovely daughter’s twelfth birthday (as per HER request).

Not a bad few days….

Happy Pi Day everyone!

A Southern Mixed Berry Cream Pie

If you haven’t already, you must try making a cream pie. ANY cream pie will do. But first a word of caution, you WILL become addicted to them, more-so than any other dish, and this I promise you! But before I dive into the making and more importantly, the TASTING of my mixed raspberry, blueberry and strawberry cream pie, I must first briefly tell you how I came about tackling this recipe.

THE BOOK

Out of the blue my mother informed me one afternoon that she had ordered me something off Amazon.com. If I have one HUGE supporter (besides my Wife) that takes a profound interest in my pie making project and addictions its my mother, who currently resides in Texas.

Southern Pie Book

She didn’t divulge exactly WHAT was coming, but when it finally arrived, I was both surprised and not. Shredding through the stiff Amazonian, cardboard packaging I excitedly ripped out, The Southern Pie Book (Southern Living) by Fan Moon. The South as you may or may not know has always been recognized for their flavorful baking and cooking and pies were no exception. Like any aspiring cook, I welcomed my new book with open arms and at first opportunity, thumbed through every page and devoured every line of text.

THE DAUGHTER

My daughter had grown accustomed to the stacks of books and magazines piled in uneven heaps in the backseat of my Jeep. It was a bad habit I had nurtured and grown over the years, always wanting easy and quick access to reading material whenever I was stuck in traffic or waiting for something. I never have a book, reading or cookbook out of my reach day or night. I’m weird like that I suppose.

One day she noticed the The Southern Pie Book resting atop one of the piles and during one of our bi-weekly commutes to her soccer practice across town, she managed to thumb through the book in its entirety and ‘bookmark’ recipes that looked good, with a stack of post-it notes she found under my seat.

Twenty minutes later she had depleted the entire book of post-it notes and my The Southern Pie Book was completely ‘bedazzled’ with yellow, blue and pink post-its. More importantly she had specifically chosen a special recipe from the book in-which she DECLARED would be ‘OUR’ next pie project. A mixed raspberry, blueberry and strawberry cream pie.

MIXED BERRY CREAM PIE

Several weeks later we finally found some free time to start tackling the recipe.

If you can believe it, we had a surprisingly difficult time finding one of the key ingredients on the list, mascarpone cheese. Yea…I KNOW! Several of the local Albertson grocery stores near me didn’t carry it, and at one point hope began to diminish that we would be able to make this recipe, until I came across it at a Whole Foods store on the far side of town. Recipe SAVED! Back on schedule!

Preheating the oven to 350 degrees, I started in on the shortbread cookie crust, using Lorna Doone shortbread cookies, blended up into crumbs using a small food processor (I have GOT to get me a bigger processor…UGH!). I then measured out the crumb’d mix until I was sure I had 1 2/3 cups, then I gradually added sugar, mixed again, and finally the butter until everything was blended into a crumb-like dough substance. I poured and firmly pressed this blended mix into my pie dish and threw into the over for 10 minutes or so. Pie crust done. Now onto the fruit!

crust01

Within short order, I had sliced and quartered the (pre-measured amount of) strawberries, raspberries and blueberries then taken a portion of these, placed in a bowl and mashed them to essentially a chunky pulp (almost with a ‘salsa’ like look and consistency). Additional ingredients were added to the mixture, including the orange liqueur. I then covered and set this aside for 30 minutes, at the conclusion of which I then drained and preserved the juice in a separate container. The remainder of the fruit, not mashed into pulp, was also placed in a container and into the fridge.

The cream was old hat, having whipped up a number of strawberry cream pie dishes for various functions over the last month or so. I whipped up the heavy cream for a bit, then added in powered sugar, mascarpone cheese and vanilla as directed, until it thickened and held peaks. The spooned half the cream into my now cooled crust, spread a layer of the pulp’d fruit, then spooned in the rest of the cream. Into the fridge the pie went, until the next day, although you really only have to leave it in for 3-4 hours or so. I opted to leave it in overnight as experience has taught me the longer the better, but that’s just me!

THE NEXT DAY…

I awoke the next morning, ‘slithered’ from under the blankets, down off the bed and across the cold hardwood floor, toward the bathroom where a long hot shower awaited me before work. The night’s sleep was good, but when I woke I had an unmistakable craving for my mixed berry cream pie! Apparently I had fantasized about it all night, as did apparently my daughter, who informed me later that morning. So we agreed, that after work and school we would each take our first taste!

The day couldn’t end fast enough, and when we both got home, we pulled out the mixed berry cream pie, right now just a featureless, cream filled pie dish. I took the remaining berry mixture, dumped them on top. The I took the juice from the mashed up berries and poured it evenly across the berry-loaded creamy top of the pie. Done!

Slowly, yet with methodically and with purpose, I cut each of us a good sized slice of the pie….

OMG!

Mixed Berry Cream Pie
The cream was fantastic, blowing my wildest expectations and even besting the taste my previous attempt at a cream pie (which was DAMN good!) when I did my Strawberry Cream Pie. But the cream, as good as it was, didn’t hold a candle to the shortbread cookie crust, which my daughter and I agreed would be our GO-TO pie crust when making any cream pies.

The ‘juice’ which I had drizzled on top of the pie was a bit ‘strong’ with the Grand Marnier Orange Liqueur despite only having to add 2 Tbsp of it, so next time around I may drop that to 1 Tbsp? It was good, just a little strong, and maybe that was just me? Though I would find that surprising since I like the occasional cocktail like anyone else!

berry02

But if I were to compare this to my previously made Strawberry Cream Pie, I would have to give the nod to this Mixed Berry Cream Pie. The cream was just as good in both pies, despite slightly different tastes, but I think the use of the shortbread cookie crust wins it hands-down over the graham cracker crust used in the Strawberry Cream Pie. But YOU be the judge!

MAKES 8 SERVINGS | HANDS-ON TIME 15 MIN. | TOTAL TIME 4 HR., 30 MIN

INGREDIENTS:
FOR THE SHORTBREAD COOKIE CRUST:

  • 1 (7.25-oz.) package of shortbread cookies
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

FOR THE CREAM AND FRUIT FILLING/TOPPING:

  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, quartered and divided
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, divided
  • 1 (6-oz.) package of fresh raspberries, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. orange liqueur
  • 1 tsp. orange zest
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 (8-oz.) containers mascarpone cheese
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:
FOR THE SHORTBREAD COOKIE CRUST:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg. Process cookies in a food processor 30 seconds to measure 1 2/3 cups fine crumbs. Add sugar; pulse 3 times. With processor running, pour butter through food chute; process until blended.
  2. Press crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie plate.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven to a wire rack, and cool completely (about 30 minutes)

FOR THE MIXED BERRY PIE:

  1. Prepare the Shortbread Cookie Piecrust as directed above, baking in a 9-inch pie plate.
  2. Combine 1 cup strawberries, 3/4 cup blueberries, and half of raspberries in a bowl, mashing with a potato masher until chunky. Stir in granulated sugar, liqueur, and zest into mashed berries. Cover and let stand 30 minutes; drain well, reserving liquid. Cover and chill remaining berries (the ones NOT mashed)
  3. Meanwhile, beat cream, powdered sugar, mascarpone cheese and vanilla together at high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.
  4. Spoon half of cream mixture into prepared crust. Top with drained mashed berry mixture and remaining half of cream mixture. Cover and chill 3 hours or until firm.
  5. Uncover, top with chilled berries, and drizzle with reserved liquid just before serving.

Recipe from The Southern Pie Book by Fan Moon

Strawberry Cream Pie With Graham Cracker Crust

I had no intention of making or baking any sort of pies or desserts for at least the next several weeks, but sitting here, somewhat bored (which is highly unusual for me) and itching for something sweet, I decided, screw that, I’m gonna make something. But what?

cream001I didn’t want to tackle some of my more ‘comfortable’ dishes, meaning that I’ve made these so many times It’s become almost second nature now. Those would be my cherry and blackberry pie dishes. Don’t get me wrong, I can make and eat one of those each week (poor midsection), but if I am to grow as a pie baker, I had to broaden my horizons. So with that in mind, I decided to get after it, and step outside my comfort zone and make a Strawberry Cream Pie.

My recipe of choice was the Strawberry Cream Pie dish posted by Tina at ‘Just Putzing Around the Kitchen.’

Yea I know, it’s not Summer when you’d normally make something like this, but I figured I could use this as a test run, in preparation for perhaps a July 4th Strawberry Cream Pie celebration?

Tina’s recipe was the obvious choice for a couple reasons.

One – Thanks to her wonderful photographs, it looked fantastic!

Two – Because this was somewhat of a last second Friday night decision, her recipe also look really simple and quick to put together. SOLD!

Nobody Told Me Cream Pies Were So Fun?

What surprised me the most about putting the Strawberry Cream Pie together was how much fun I would have? I had never made a cream pie, and because these were sooooo very different from my typical fruit pie, I was like a kid with a new chemistry set!

cream002Mixing together the ingredients and then using the hand mixer (using tools are SO COOL! Yes, I am a man!), to whip the heavy cream and then the cream cheese mixture was beyond words exciting. Sounds weird but watching this concoction come together then whisking a glob onto my finger to taste, was the most fun in the kitchen I have had dilly dallying with food in a long while.

Scooping my mixture into a pre-prepared graham cracker crust dish, smoothing it out and then gently layering it with fresh strawberries was the icing on the cak…er…pie literally. It just topped off a wonderful experience making my first cream pie.

I stuck with the recipe for the most part, only straying from Tina’s wonderful process when I saw that I had many strawberries left and thought a little extra on top was the ONLY right thing to do!

As first attempts go, this one was a great start, to what I know will be a relentless quest to perfection! Now where’s my fork!

strawberry-cream-pie-recipe