Instead of baking a pie for Pi Day, I baked a pie on Pi Day. Now I am observing it, bank-style, on Monday.
For those of you who are confused, we’re talking math… sort of. Remember that whole circumference of a circle thing? Ï€ = approximately 3.14159265, often shortened to 3.14, and observed on 3/14. Pi Day.
You can either do some math, or celebrate with my preferred method:
Pie. Pi. Ï€. It’s a 9-inch diameter pie plate if you feel like doing some additional calculations. I only got as far as dividing it into slices.
Oh, I wanted to apologize for three dessert posts in a row. Don’t worry, I pick up our next CSA share tomorrow, and I have some exciting science to share this week, too!
Back to pie.
For my pie, I wanted to make something I had never tried before, and nothing that required a trip to the grocery store. Lazy pie. I had four beautiful lemons from my friend’s neighbor’s tree, so I decided on a lemon chess pie. Chess pie is a traditionally Southern dessert with a simple baked custard-like filling. Lemon is a common variation as is a brown sugar version.
A pre-baked pie shell is filled with the custard then baked until the top is nice and brown. I used pie crust dough already in my freezer from the coconut cream pie to make it even faster. Except that I forgot to take it out to defrost the night before, hence this not getting posted until today.
There may be a lot more pies in this blog’s future since blind-baking is not a skill I seem to possess. Rolling out the dough isn’t a problem, but I trust the recipes too much and need to leave the beans weighing down the shell longer. Despite ample fork-jabs, the crust still puffed up after the beans were removed. This decreased the volume of my shell and my filling was dangerously close to overflowing the pie plate.
It did not overflow, however, and the pie baked up nicely with a flaky crust, tart curd-like interior, and a top layer reminiscent of cheesecake. If you have not made a single-crust pie with a baked filling, this is a great time to level your oven. Take it from someone who has had a third of a pie cascading like a waterfall onto the floor of her oven which promptly filled with smoke, you want your oven rack to be pretty flat. A cookie sheet only holds so much.
Lemon Chess Pie
Adapted from Baking Bites
Makes one 9-inch pie
1 pre-baked 9-inch pie shell
4 large eggs, separated
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1.) Preheat oven to 350F. Place pie plate with baked pie shell on a baking sheet.
2.) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until combined. Add butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla, salt, and flour, and whisk until smooth.
3.) Beat egg whites in a separate bowl until they form stiff peaks. Fold egg whites into lemon mixture until uniform with no visible streaks of white.
4.) Pour filling into pie shell. Bake 30-35 minutes at 350F until top is dark golden brown. Remove from oven and allow pie to cool on the baking sheet for 30 minutes to avoid cracking, then transfer the pie to a wire rack to finish cooling, at least one hour before serving. Serve warm or chilled.