3.14

Because I go to a fairly nerdy school and because I am friends with a handful of math students, I have found myself surrounded by people who care that today, March fourteenth, is Pi Day. Now, I am not personally a fan of math, but I am a fan of pi(e), which makes today a good day for math and I to temporarily reconcile.

Unlike Chelsea, I’m not a pie expert. Lucky for me, I am related to one. My dad is a great pie maker. I think it’s fitting that I talk about him today since he taught me how to make pie, and attempted to teach me how to do math. He was (and still is) exceedingly patient with me. The time I added water to the flour before the butter and created a sticky paste, or the time(s) I burst  into to tears at 10:00 on a school night* over the math problem that I just could not get right, he would simply shake his head and help me start over.
*10:00 was late back in the day. Especially on a school night. 

My very favourite kind of pie in the whole wide world is my dad’s blueberry pie. With some help from my unusually patient brothers at home (who I called not once but three times today) I was able to acquire Dad’s recipe.

Like I said, I don’t have loads of pie wisdom but I do have a few little tips:

  1. Keep your dough as cold as possible while you’re working.
  2. Mix by hand.
  3. If you don’t own a rolling pin you can use a wine bottle (#studentproblems). If you fill it with icy water it will help with tip 1.
  4. Rub a little milk on top of your crust right before you put it in the oven. When I was little my dad would let me drink the extra milk from the pie. I always thought it tasted better than regular milk, which doesn’t really make a lot of sense because the only difference was that it had our fingers in it, and maybe a few crust bits.

I don’t have much to say about the butter vs shortening debate except that it is one that will go on forever. Essentially butter tastes nicer and shortening gets flakier. In the end, you can still make a flaky pie crust with butter or a tasty one with shortening, so I usually use whichever I have around.

After a gorgeous day of perfect weather and casual baking I was fortunate enough to share this pi pie with some people that I like. Later I was even more fortunate to be able to go for a walk in the park in a t-shirt. It was a very happy Pi Day indeed.

Now I’m off to work on some stats homework because it suits the math-y nature of 3.14 day and because I promised that I would. There’s a chance I’m also being bribed a little.

Dad’s Blueberry Pie

For the crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup butter
4-6 tbsp cold water

For the filling:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
rind of one lemon
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 cups blueberries (if frozen, thaw and drain)
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp butter

Sift the flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Cube cold butter then add to the flour and mix with a pastry blender until it resembles small peas. Add water as needed and mix until everything comes together into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 45 minutes or as much as two days. You can also freeze for a rainy day.

In the meantime, mix flour, sugar, lemon rind and cinnamon. Carefully fold in berries. Preheat the oven to 425 F.

When the dough has reached the firmness of cold butter you can begin to roll it into two circles. If you’re like me and don’t own a rolling pin you can fill an empty wine bottle with cold water, which has the added bonus of keeping your dough extra cold. Lay one circle of dough over a 9″ pie dish and then pour in filling. Sprinkle on lemon juice and dot with butter. Cover berries with the rest of the dough. Cut out something pretty or just poke some holes for the steam to escape. Rub a little milk on top and then bake at 425F for 40-45 minutes.

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