Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Celebrate Pi(e) Day

Today, March 14, is known as "Pi" Day. (For those who didn't do well in math... it's because the number for pi is 3.14(plus a lot more numbers)... so March 14, 3-14... Pi Day.)

And of course Pie is much more fun than Pi, so... Here's a pie for pi(e) day! Lemon Cream Pie.

What You Need:
For the Crust:
2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp. butter

For the Lemon Curd Filling:
1-2 Tbsp. Lemon Zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2-4 lemons)
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter (cut into chunks)

For the Whipped Cream Topping:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Optional: 1-2 Tbsp vanilla

Start with the lemon curd because it will need to set up in the refrigerator for a few hours.

If you've never "zested" a lemon before, you can do it one of two ways. Using a microplane grater, like you see here. Be sure you only get the yellow part of the peel... that's the zest. The white part is the "pith," and it is really bitter, so you don't want that.

If you don't have a grater, don't fear, you can also use a vegetable peeler... again being careful to avoid the white pith.

Then, use a knife to chop the zest fine.

To get the juice from the lemons, roll them on the countertop, pressing with your hand to soften the fruit inside. This helps to get more juice, especially when the peels are super thick, like on these lemons, holy smokes!

To keep the seeds out, squeeze the juice through your hand or a strainer. We will strain this lemon curd at the end, so if a seed or two sneak by, it's not that big of a deal.

Now that your lemons are ready, Place the yolks from six eggs into the bottom of a small saucepan.
(I used the whites to make some yummy buttercream icing for another project I'm cooking up. I'm not a huge meringue pie fan, but you could always do that, of course.)

Add the sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice. Whisk to combine, and set over medium-low heat.

Stirring constantly, allow the mixture to thicken. This took me about 10 minutes. (And you really do have to stir constantly, sorry.) You know it's ready when it coats the back of your spatula.

Not ready.


Remove from heat and add the butter a few chunks at a time, stirring until the chunks melt each time. (Yummmmmmm... butter!)

Once all of the butter is added and melted, strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer (to get the zest out, and any other various not-smooth bits).

Lay plastic wrap directly on the surface of the lemon curd to prevent a skin from forming.  
*I've found that the butter cools my curd enough that it's no longer really too warm after that step. However, if you want to wait until it cools a little more before adding the plastic wrap, that's okay. Just don't wait too long. The skin is yucky.

Allow the lemon curd to set up in the refrigerator at least 3 hours to overnight.

*Note: This lemon curd is also amazing on just about anything... scones, biscuits, Vanilla wafers. I love this stuff.
It keeps for about 1 week in the refrigerator... but that's not an issue because it will never last that long. (Especially since we're about to add it to the pie.)

Make the Crust:

Preheat the oven to 425-degrees.

In the bowl of a mixer, or in a medium-sized bow, combine the dry ingredients.
Add shortening and butter, and either mix on low or cut in with a pastry cutter just until you get coarse crumbs, like you see above.
*If you overmix this, it's not flaky at all. It gets all hard like a store-bought crust. Blech.
Add the cream, with the mixer on low until it just begins to form a ball. There will still be some crumbs. Again, do not overmix or it will get tough.

Turn onto floured waxed or parchment paper.
Knead the dough just until it forms a ball, divide the dough in half. This recipe makes two crusts for a 9" pie. If you only need one (like for this chocolate pie recipe), wrap the other half of the dough in plastic wrap, stick it in a freezer bag, and put it in the freezer for later use.
Dust the parchment and the dough with flour again, and roll out to about 1/8" thick.

Flip the dough and the parchment paper into a pie plate. Peel back the parchment paper. Flute the edges of the crust using two fingers on one hand, and the thumb of the opposite hand.

Lay a piece of parchment (not waxed!) paper inside of the crust, and fill it with dried beans. These will weigh the crust down so it doesn't shrink while you bake it.

Bake at 425 for 30-40 minutes. (Remove the parchment & beans with about 10 minutes left at the end to get the middle/bottom golden brown.)

Let the crust cool completely before filling.

Make the Whipped Cream & Assemble the Pie
To help whip the cream, put the bowl and beater(s) in the refrigerator for a while before you whip it.

Combine the cream & powdered sugar in the bowl of a mixer. Mix on high until stiff peaks form (mine took about a minute). Add vanilla just before you turn off the mixer.

Spoon the refrigerated lemon curd into the cooled pie crust, spread in an even layer.

Load the whipped cream into a pastry bag fitted with a tip #1M. Pipe stars all over the top of the pie, holding the tip straight up from the surface of the pie.

Now, in honor of Pi(e) Day, I colored a little of the whipped cream yellow, and piped a Pi symbol in the middle of the pie. (I know, geeky!)

Or, you can decorate it with some lemon slices and yellow sanding sugar.
Store the pie in the refrigerator.

It's so yummy!

Click the Links Below to See:
French Silk Pie Recipe
Most Ridiculous Chocolate Cake Recipe/Tutorial

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1 comment:

  1. This looks delicious. I love lemon pie, although I never seem to be able to make it sharp enough for my husband - he'd like it if I left out the sugar completely :o)


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