14 March, 2012

...In the Sky

Today is a special day. It is a momentous occasion very dear to me. Today is a hallowed celebration of every great, circular mind ever to consider the impending greatness of nature, and that says nothing of the fact that it is Einstein’s birthday.

Today is 14 March 2010.

Today is Pi Day.

I LOVE Pi Day. I love it so much I had to use capital letters to better express the severity of my love. I have done something to celebrate Pi Day every year since high school (yeah, I’m pretty cool). In college, I surprised one of my math professors—who never took kindly to my shenanigans, I might add—with those Little Debbie Pies for our entire class. Last year, I bought a pie from Martin’s and shame-ate it for dinner.

The greatest Pi Day celebration came while I was studying in London. Upon mentioning my adoration for the holiday, my ambitious and amazing friends said we should just make a pie ourselves. We googled a recipe, bought the supplies and had a fantastic evening.

This year, again finding myself out of the country, I decided I should again attempt the terrifying task of baking a pie. Don’t fret; this will not be a hive-inducing account of my endeavour. Instead it will be a charming tale of success and whimsy.

As I mentioned in the aforementioned hive-inducing post, my kitchen is less than ideal. My knowledge and skills with an oven are even less competent than my stovetop abilities. Couple that with my hand-me-down toaster oven, and I was fairly nervous. Something was going to go wrong.

So, to alleviate my anxiety, I reached out to another Lanzhou PCV—the amazing Courtney—who is not only knowledgeable in the realm of baking, but has proven it time and again, bringing delicious baked goods to our many potlucks. I asked her some questions referencing various recipes I had poured over online. Her response not only answered my questions, but extended an invitation to tag-team the pie at her place, where all the necessary ingredients were already gathered.
She's making it up as she
goes, and it's perfect


Today was a particularly occupied day personally, so the preparations and production of Pi Day’s eponymous and pleasantly palatable pie took place previously. And by previously, I mean yesterday.

Mmmm. Doughball.
The crust was a simple combination of shortening, flour, salt and water. We didn’t have an actual measuring cup (because I left mine in my flat), so we improvised the amounts, and with Courtney’s experience, it wasn’t a problem. I wish I could tell you what kind of apples they were, but I bought them off the back of a truck outside my university.

Adding that bit of ginger
was a stroke of genius.
After the apples were washed, pealed and chopped, we squeezed some lemon juice over them and added just a pinch of fresh, grated ginger. We tossed them in a mixture of flour, sugar and cinnamon. (If there was one thing I could do over, I would have discovered the brown sugar in her pantry sooner and added it to this mix.)
Mmmm. Apple filling.

When we rolled out the crust, it was a tad difficult, but we managed. I had a glass platter in my flat that looked close enough to a pie tin, so we used that. Crust on the bottom, then a filling full of delicious apples. Apparently, it’s good to put a bit of butter over the apples before adding the top of the pie. I learned that after we put the top on and Courtney realised we forgot.

Into the oven it went after a brushing of egg. Fast forward however long it took to bake… and it was done. It smelled marvellous.
The before.
The delicious after.

With the leftover crust and apples, we made a couple muffin-sized mini pies. Although, we wondered if they should be called tarts instead. They followed the pie into the oven, and smelled equally marvellous. As a reward for our efforts, we split one of the minis.
What do you think?
Should it be called a tart?

I hope you enjoy your Pi Day. Even if you don’t bake your own pie, eat something circular, learn about the history of Pi, thank Leonard Euler for popularising the use of π and take the Pi Day Challenge.

I washed while Courtney handled
the dough.
She was showing off while
I was using a peeler.
The goal was to get a picture of
me cutting myself. Alas...
The delicious mix, pre-apple. 
The delicious mix, post-apple.
We peeled an extra apple? Don't mind if I do. 
I was told to poke holes in the bottom to help it cook
properly. Whaddya think? 
Quotation of the evening: "Instead of slits,
we'll just call these 'butter holes'!"

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