A Celebration of Pi (with Pie).

pie slice3

Over the past weekend, on 3/14/15 to be exact. I went to a Pi Party. How does one celebrate Pi? With pie, of course! Everyone contributed a pie of some sort in honor of Pi. As you can imagine, there were so many pies there, I almost couldn’t handle the deliciousness. Almost.

My personal contribution was a Key Lime Pie. I started off with a cornmeal crust made from scratch, baked it for about 8 minutes, filled it with pie, and baked it for another 15 minutes. And although I absolutely love this particular Key Lime Pie recipe, I feel like it’s not green enough. So…I helped it reach maximum greeness with a couple drops of food coloring.

it's not easy being green.

it’s not easy being green.

I wanted to put some kind of topping on it, but I didn’t have any heavy cream. I did however, have all the ingredients to make a meringue, so I started whipping one up.

do the meringue.

do the meringue.

It was going really well, until my hand started getting really really tired. Then I remembered just how long it takes to whip meringue, and realized I should have used the stand mixer,  not the hand mixer. But it was too late to turn back now, so I whipped on, as best as I could. The result was not the best meringue I’ve ever made, looks-wise, but it sure was tasty.

beautiful on the inside.

beautiful on the inside.

I really really really wanted to add a slice of lime to the center, but at this point, I was crunched for time, so it would have to go lime-less. I brought it to the party, feeling sightly disappointed. I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my desserts, but there was no way I could redo the pie and still make it to the party in time. And showing up to a Pi Party without Pie was just unthinkable.

The party was a blast. The pies were all a huge hit, including mine. So much so, that by the end of the night, my faith in my desserts had been restored.

things are looking up.

things are looking up.

The best part about the pie party? We got to take home slices of all the pies, in what I affectionately dubbed a “Super Pie.”

the super pie.

best. pie. ever.

The moral of the story is no two pies are exactly alike. But that doesn’t make them any less delicious. Pie to infinity!

Shoo-Fly Pie For the Win.

shoo fly pie4

I recently made a Shoo-Fly Pie for the first time. I had never made one before, and really didn’t even know where to begin, so I started with a basic recipe I found online, here. I did, however make one key change — I made my pie shell from scratch (find the recipe at the end of this post). After making the dough, rolling it, cutting it, and placing it into the pie pan, I began crafting the pie innards. I poured the mix into the crust, and it was so THIN I assumed I must have done something wrong.

not so shoo-re of this pie.

not so shoo-re of this pie.

I had come this far, and there was no turning back now. So I went ahead and sprinkled the crumbles on top, popped it in the oven, and hoped for the best. I opened the door to this:

if it looks like a pie....

if it looks like a pie….

In all appearances, one could assume this was a mighty fine pie. But I hadn’t tasted it yet, and wouldn’t actually be tasting it until dinner at my parents’ house. It smelled great, so that was another plus for this dessert-to-be.

I packed it up, put it in the car (and by put it in the car, I mean forced my fiancé to hold it precariously in his lap for the entire ride) and headed off to my parents’, hoping all the way that it didn’t suck.

it's a pie in a box.

it’s a pie in a box.

After what seemed like an eternity, the time of coffee and dessert finally arrived. I removed the pie from it’s protective vessel (i.e., the box) and placed it gingerly in the center of the table. Based on looks alone, my mom offered up the “fancy” dessert plates for serving. I went ahead and cut the first slice.

piece out.

piece out.

After we each had a piece in front of us, we simultaneously took the plunge. “We’re all in this together,” I thought, “in delicious bliss or nauseating horror.”

Delicious bliss, it was. The pie was a shoo-in all along! 😉


As promised (of course I didn’t forget!), here’s the recipe for my from-scratch pie dough, if you’d like to give it a whirl.

Pie Dough.

What you’ll need:

10 oz flour

7 oz shortening

3 oz cold water

1 tsp salt

1/2 oz sugar

What you’ll do:

Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Cut in the shortening, until the mixture is the consistency of cornmeal. In a separate small bowl, dissolve the salt and sugar in the water. Add the water to the flour mixture, and mix gently by hand, until everything is combined. Do not overwork the dough! Roll the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least two hours before using. When it’s ready, remove the dough, roll it out until it’s 1/4″ thick, and cut a large enough circle to cover the bottom and sides of a 9″ aluminum pie (which is what I used). Bake as directed in the pie recipe. You should have extra dough for more pies!

Pumpkin Rosemary Pie, 2.0


Last year, I wanted to try something a little different for Thanksgiving, so I crafted a recipe for Pumpkin Rosemary Pie. It turned out quite good, so I thought I’d made it a tradition, and bake it again this year. However, this time, I made two small changes:

1. I used 2% milk

2. I made an entirely different kind of crust.

The first one was basically because I thought a milk with more fat would just give the pie a little boost, texturally speaking, which it did. As for the second, well about mid-year, I found a recipe for a cornbread crust in this book that I just loved and have been using as much as I possibly can ever since. I thought this pie would be the perfect opportunity.

pie crust perfection.

pie crust perfection.

I topped it with a homemade cinnamon whipped cream (which was enthusiastically taste-tested by my boyfriend, who’s always willing to help out in these situations). Once we were sure it passed the test (it took multiple tastes – we just HAD to be sure it was good), I piped it on the pie, packed the whole thing up, and brought it to Thanksgiving dinner at my parents’ house, where it was devoured by all.

just before the carnage.

just before the carnage.

Stayed tuned ’til next year, for the release of version 3.0!

There’s Always Time for Key Lime Pie.

I really wanted to make a pie for the 4th of July this year. I had a few parties/barbecues to attend, and thought a pie would be a perfect contribution. Cupcakes are great, but I just made two batches recently and really felt like trying something I hadn’t done in a while. And I hadn’t made a pie at home from scratch since probably at least Christmas – so a pie it must be.

Deciding on what type of pie was another story. I thought, hmm…blueberry is probably the most traditional for this time of year. I have a good recipe for it, too. But it just didn’t feel quite right. It was a good choice, yes – but it wasn’t making my toes tingle or my eyebrows raise. But then, I thought of it – the king of summer pies – the pie to lead all other pies into pie battle – the Key Lime Pie.

pie 1

o captain, my captain.

I used a combination of this recipe I found online, but I altered the method of production based on previous pie baking experience, including whipping the egg yolks until they are light yellow before mixing in the other ingredients.  And…I made the crust from scratch using my favorite crust recipe.

Having never made a Key Lime Pie at home before, I was just a little bit nervous – especially since my plan was to whisk this one out the door and to a gathering immediately upon completion – so there was no room for error.  When I removed it from the oven, it appeared to be intact – the best way to tell with a key lime pie is to lightly shake it back and forth – if it doesn’t jiggle, it’s done. It passed the shake test.

baked and shaked.

baked and shaked.

However, I couldn’t just bring it without anything on top. I wanted to make whipped cream – but I really had no time. What I did have, was some leftover lemon buttercream, from my last baking project…..I had an idea.

I didn’t want a heavy topping, but the lemon buttercream would be perfect, flavor-wise. So, I compromised.

a little dab'll do ya.

a little dab’ll do ya.

It worked. The pie was a hit, the buttercream was a perfect fit, and we even got to see some fireworks. All in all, a great 4th of July weekend was had in 2013 – and the pie definitely played a “key” role in that (ha ha – see what i did there?).

Recipe Tuesday Afternoon: Pumpkin Rosemary Pie.

Serendipity has always been one of my favorite words – even before the movie with John Cusack (which is also one of my favorite movies). I love the idea of a fortunate accident – that every event happens for a reason and contributes to the making of something truly great. In this case, it’s a pumpkin pie – with rosemary.

Two simultaneous events lead to the serendipitous creation of this particular pie :

1. I was given a container of fresh rosemary yesterday morning. It smelled wonderful. I had no idea what to do with it, but i knew I  had to do something – it was much too good to just go untouched and its freshness wouldn’t last forever. I had to strike while the iron was hot.

the scent of the gods.

2. I got sick. Sometimes bad things happen for a good reason. In fact, they usually do. I was going to have my friend over on Monday night and I was originally going to make a pumpkin pie on Sunday night for it. I got sick, and did not make the pie on Sunday night. I told my friend yesterday morning that I should be ok by Tuesday night (tonight) so we could reschedule. Then I was given the rosemary. Then I wound up feeling worse, and stayed home from work today. However, this gave me plenty of time to focus on the pie, and as I began getting the ingredients together, I saw the rosemary on the counter. So I did what any adventurous baker would do – I added it in.

pumpkin, fate, rosemary and time.

The resulting pie was truly meant to be: I’ve never made a better pie in my life, and that’s the truth. And now you can make it too – because good things are always meant to be shared. And life’s too short to let your rosemary go bad – you never know when it might come your way again. 🙂

pie love.

Pumpkin Rosemary Pie.

The Crust:

What you’ll need:

10 whole cinnamon graham cracker sheets

¼ cup confectioners’ sugar

6 tablespoons butter (melted)

What you’ll do:

Preheat the oven to 475. Combine the graham crackers, sugar, and melted butter in a food processor. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9” pie pan. Bake for 7-8 minutes, until slightly brown and set.

The Filling:

What you’ll need:

1 cup fat-free milk

15 oz pumpkin puree

2 eggs

¾ cup sugar

2 tablespoons corn starch

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon fresh minced rosemary

What you’ll do:

Preheat the oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine the milk, pumpkin, and eggs.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, corn starch, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and rosemary until well combined, then fold it into pumpkin mixture. Pour mixture into pre-baked crust, until it almost reaches the top (you will most likely have some extra filling – enough for a personal-sized pie!).  Bake for 50 – 55 minutes, or when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

The Topping:

What you’ll need:

1 lb heavy cream

2.5 oz confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon. Add the sugar and cinnamon mixture and the vanilla to the cream, and continue whipping until is forms stiff peaks. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

a little piece of heaven.

Cranberry, Gingerbread, Pumpkin, oh my!

Thanksgiving may be gone, but the leftovers remain…and will probably for at least a week or so. This is by no means a bad thing, in my book, especially where dessert is concerned. I was particularly busy this Thanksgiving, as I had not one, but three Thanksgiving celebrations to make desserts for! And I couldn’t have been more thankful for the opportunity to do so. Not only did it give me a chance to try out some recipes, but as I mentioned in the past, the flavors of fall are by far my favorite and really do make the best desserts. So this year, I spread my little baking wings, and tried three distinct dessert varieties:

1. Pumpkin.

I wound up making two pumpkin desserts, both from one cake recipe. A pumpkin cake with pumpkin buttercream:

pumpkin inside and outside.

 And out of  the leftover cake and icing, came pumpkin cake balls:

great balls of pumpkin.

 2. Cranberry.

Last year, I made a cranberry fudge pie for the first time. It turned out pretty good, but after a year of schooling, I thought I’d try again, and see if I’ve improved at all in a year.

a year's worth of pastry school was worth it.

 3. Gingerbread.

I’ve been on a gingerbread kick since I made it in class two weeks ago, so I decided to make a gingerbread cake to take over to my parents. Well, in a true act of serendipity, the cake went from good to heavenly by the mere mistake of melting too much butter. I realized it immediately after I had melted it, and didn’t add any extra butter to the recipe, but had this bowl of melted butter just sitting there, with nothing to do. “Hmmm…I bet I could make some sort of glaze with that,” I thought. So I grabbed some cinnamon and confectioners’ sugar, and next thing I knew, I had created an easy, yet amazing buttery glaze which fit the cake like a glove.


 I also added something else to this gingerbread cake which was entirely intentional – mashed pears. I had all these leftover little pears that were starting to turn brown and I really wanted to use them. So, I cut them up, mashed them in a bowl, added some cinnamon and brown sugar, and threw it into the batter. The result? An even moister and flavorful cake!

Now, I should be happy that I wound up with no leftover desserts – it means that everyone really liked them and that’s the goal, right?  Next year, I’ll just have to make them bigger. 😉

cake or pie?

Both. Or at least a happy compromise of the two. The cake vs. pie debate is one that has been waged for centuries and will continue well into the future until solid food no longer exists and we are injecting ourselves daily with a “super compound” of vitamins, minerals and pain killers.

But for now, we argue: which is better? As a known dessert-freak, I have one heck of hard time choosing one over the other. Sometimes, cake is called for (you can’t really put birthday candles in a pie). Other times, you just gotta have that flakey crust and moist drippy filling.  And as making decisions is not my strong suit, I’ve decided to create my own compromise: Cake Pie.

Now, I am by no means claiming that I invented Cake Pie. I’m sure some other baker out there has done it too.  But I did create my own recipe. originally, I had envisioned Cake Pie to be a pie crust filled with cake. I had no idea what this would taste like, and I also ran into the issue of baking times and temperature – the cake would not be done when the crust was, and the crust would be like shriveled bacon if baked for as long as the cake. What a confectionery conundrum.

a failed equation.

I decided I was looking at this all wrong. Cake Pie was not going to work at all. Pie Cake on the other hand….

the next E=mc2.

This particular variety of Pie Cake is Lemon Meringue, complete with lemon custard filling. the cake is a light lemon flavor, the “icing” is just plain old meringue, edges singed for your pleasure.

I’ve got other ideas for my next Pie Cake adventure. We’ll see where that leads. Although, I really would like to solve the Cake Pie equation.  It’s going to drive me nuts, and one day, you’ll find me locked in a shed, surround by pictures of cakes and pies, talking to myself and claiming it was the Russians.

a beautiful mind can't even solve this one.

i bake for no one.

Sometimes, I just HAVE to bake something, with no real plan for the finished product or where it might end up. When the urge hits me, I have to act on it – I’ve tried to ignore it in the past, but it doesn’t do any good. It just grows and itches like a bug bite on the one spot of your back you can’t reach. Like drinking alone, baking for no one is the sign of a true addict.

i'm the Johnny Cash of the baking world.

Interestingly enough, I feel that some of my best work has come out of these baking for no one binges. Yesterday, as you may have read, I baked a Blueberry Buckle for the first time. This cake had no predetermined use – however it found a lovely home in the bellies of many happy co-workers and had completely vanished by day’s end.

chase away those blues.

Another impressive result of event-less baking was Eggnog Pie.  I found a recipe, really wanted to try it, and figured I’d find a good home for the pie, and sure enough, half went to an actual event that popped up, and the other half…work again. My co-workers love me (or is it “hate” me -there’s a fine line between the two).

free to a good home.

Third and foremost, may very well be the best thing I ever baked. That’s a bold statement, I know, but it’s almost a year later, and I’m still constantly getting requests for these handsome delectable little devils.  It was on a whim that I threw these together. I wanted to make a coffee cake with a new recipe I found, and really just didn’t feel like making a giant cake and having it sit around. Plus, I wanted something with icing. So, I turned it into Coffee Cake Cupcakes, and put a layer of cream cheese icing between the cake the streusel topping. If my memory serves me, these too wound up in the mouths of co-workers. What can I say – they make the best guinea pigs for new stuff.

extreme coffee cake makeover.

And now, I must quickly end this post, as I just squashed a bug that was crawling on my shirt, and I can’t sit here any longer because I keep thinking they’re all over me now. Dang bugs.

A nod to nog.

Today it snowed. I am not a fan – I’m definitely a summer person. I often wish I could organize a “mass move” and have everyone I know and love pack up and move to a milder climate. While I wait for that day to come, I use these snow days in the meantime to test out new recipes.

Today I made an egg nog pie. Granted, this was no “small indulgence.” It’s a grandiose gluttonous gorge-fest. But damn, is it worth it.

I made the crust from scratch, and I finally got to break in  my brand new (woo-hoo!) food processor.  I made the rest of the pie from scratch as well, right down to whipped cream.

Why, might you ask, am I writing about something that is the exact opposite of what I’ve been preaching? Well, it’s obvious, really. The beauty of the small indulgence is that if you opt for them enough times, you can enjoy a big ‘ole rich ginormous piece of heavenly egg nog pie,  without feeling like Fatty McBloaterson afterwards.  So go ahead, indulge. You deserve it.

eat me.

The pie’s the limit.

Everyone loves pie. It’s practically a crime not to. I think you’d be considered unpatriotic, and possibly get deported if you didn’t at least enjoy one of the many varieties pies have to offer. But pies are so big. If you happen to take a piece of one that’s not your cup of tea, then you’re (excuse my french) screwed. Enter the mini pie. A 4″ or 5″ two-bite godsend of deliciousness, offering you the option to try – you guessed it – more than one type of pie at a time! Have a hankering for Cherry Pie, but wouldn’t mind sampling a bit of that Key Lime as well? no problem. Mini-pies provide the dessert solution we’ve all been waiting for. So bring on the pies, and start sampling.

Any suggestions for a mini-pie you’d like to see?

so many pies....so little time.