Today is Pi Day. In case you've forgotten your math classes, pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.
When I was studying math, pi was usually expressed as 22/7: that was back when we did our calculations by hand rather than with a calculator. Pi is 3 and 1/7. Now that calculators and computers do the math for us, pi is usually thought of as 3.141592, or 3.14 for short.
I've read that Pi Day was first celebrated back in 1988, but I'm not certain of that. I imagine that math students have thought of March 14 as Pi Day for many years. For certain, though, the idea of people across the country celebrating a number is a fairly recent development.
What's more important to me is that Pi Day is a perfect time to make a pie, which is one of my favorite things to do. I have a confession, though: until recently, I never made my own pie crust.
My mom was a proponent of Pillsbury's All Ready pie crusts, and I inherited from her a love of their convenience. It just didn't make sense to me to go to all the trouble of making a homemade crust.
I can now say with complete confidence that I was wrong: partly because homemade crust really is much tastier than pre-made crust, and partly because making homemade crust is MUCH easier than I ever thought it could be.
The secret weapon? My food processor. Pie crust purists might scoff, but trust me: this works.
Here's the recipe I've developed for making a delicious pie crust with my food processor. I hope you enjoy it!
Food Processor Pie Crust
(Single crust recipe)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 Tablespoons butter, cut into cubes (I always use salted butter, but your choice is fine)
4 Tablespoons (1/4 cup) shortening, cut into small pieces
3-4 Tablespoons ice water
Chill the butter and shortening. I like to cut the butter and shortening into cubes and place in the freezer for a while so that the cubes are very cold.
Place flour and salt in food processor with regular blade attached. Pulse a few times to incorporate salt throughout the flour.
Add chilled butter and shortening to food processor. Pulse a few times, holding down the pulse button for a couple of seconds per pulse, just until the butter and shortening are mixed with the flour enough that the mix resembles coarse crumbs.
Then, with the food processor running, pour the ice water into the bowl. Start with just 3 Tablespoons of water, adding a bit more if needed. All you need is for the dry mixture to become damp enough to stick together a bit. You don't want it to form a big clump. (Resist the temptation to add more water!)
Dump the mixture onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Gather the corners of the plastic wrap and press on the outside just enough to form the dough into a ball. You can refrigerate the dough for a bit if you like.
Tear off two sheets of wax paper about 15 inches long each. Place your dough ball between sheets of wax paper and roll out to your preferred size.
And if you want to turn your delicious crust into dinner, try this super-easy quiche recipe:
Unbaked pie shell
6 whole eggs
1 1/2 cups cheese, grated (I like half cheddar and half Swiss or Gruyere)
3/4 cup cup milk or cream
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
salt and pepper to taste
bacon, ham, or sausage, or any combination thereof
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cook meat of your choice and drain fat. Cut or crumble into small pieces.
Beat eggs with baking powder. Add milk; mix well. Stir in grated cheese and meat.Pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until toothpick insert in center comes out fairly clean. Do not overbake--the quiche will continue to cook some from residual heat after you remove it from the oven.
Have any pie favorites? I'd love to hear!