, , , , , , ,

I know…but I couldn’t pass it up. It “Pi Day”, 3/14, so in all of my dorky glory I decided to post a pie recipe for today. It was so absolutely sunny and gorgeous today, I had every window open in the house all day & evening – it was a quintessentially perfect Pittsburgh spring day. I spent the day driving around the South Hills with the windows down & music up in the Jeep.  I wanted something that tasted bright, like spring. This so totally fit the bill. Fingers crossed winter is really over. Again. This time. Please?

I don’t make pie all that often. Hart isn’t in love with any specific kind of pie & they are a decent amount of work for only myself to really enjoy because of that pesky pie crust. I have, after much practice, become quite proficient at the pie crust, but it is still a 75/25 shot that I am going to love the end result simply because I don’t make it all that often and pie crust is a definite practice-makes-perfect kind of thing. But good at it or other wise it’s a lot of shit for 1 component, albeit the make it or beak it component, of a dessert.

Its not that pie crust, itself, is difficult, but it can be tedious and frustrating if it isn’t something that you regularly work with. Its finicky, as temperamental a teenager and just plain irritating when you are looking to throw together a quick dessert, which generally is the boat I find myself in. Its funny how my cravings accomodate my laziness when the opportunity presents itself.

This style of crust completely solves this issue. It is NOT a light, flakey, pie crust, it isn’t supposed to be. It is shortbread; it is buttery, has a crispness to it and is thicker than a rolled crust. I use a food processor to make the dough, it is significantly faster and therefore worth washing afterwards, but it can also quite easily be made by hand. But the dough is worked to a consistency of a crumb topping, pressed into a pie pan, baked completely and cooled – see, NO ROLLING PIN!! This style of crust is a good one to have in the arsenal; its wicked fast and perfect for any kind of cream or custard pie and only has 6 ingredients, all readily available in your average pantry.

The filling is a traditional curd. It is sincerely a shame that such a delicious thing has been given such a tragic name. A curd is a stove-top cooked egg based custard, in essence, that is generally of the citrus persuasion. Its is unreal in this pie or as a danish or cookie filling; it can be used off the stove or be baked again after with no damage. As long as the base ratios are right you will get a creamy, tart, explosion of citrus WOW. I love sour candy, like sourpatch kids and that kind of garbage, this is my idea of lemon heaven. Seriously.

Chiffon cream is almost too easy – a very lightly sweetened whipped cream. A meringue will also work here perfectly well. Not going to lie – I don’t really like meringue and don’t use it unless I have no other option. I very much prefer the lightly sweetened fresh whipped cream, it provides an amazing contrast to the tart lemon & buttery crust. Like The Dude’s rug, the chiffon cream really ties the room together. That said meringue is also good and more than appropriate…I like the whipped cream better.

Shortbread Crust – enough for a 9″ pie pan

  • 1/2 cup Butter, cold & cubed
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • pinch Salt
  • 1/8 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 cup Flour
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract

Preheat your oven to 350, grab a pie pan & the food processor.

Put all of the dry ingredients in the bowl of the food processor, pulse until it is all totally combined and looks like coarse cornmeal. Add the vanilla and pulse a few more times to distribute it through. The dough will start to clump up a little bit, it’s done. Dump the crumby mess into the pie pan and press it into the bottom and up the sides of the pan evenly.

You will need to fill the crust with something to keep the sides from slipping while it bakes. Line with a piece of parchment or foil and fill with a layer of beans, rice or pie weights. Bake for 10 minutes, the edges should be just starting to brown, remove the weights and bake for 5 more minutes. Let set out to cool.

Lemon Curd yield around 4 cups

  • 4 whole Large Eggs
  • 2 each Egg Yolks
  • 3/4 cup Sugar
  • zest of 3 Lemons
  • 1 1/2 cups Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice, approximately 8 lemons
  • 2 Tbsp Cornstarch
  • 4 Tbsp Butter

Place all of the ingredients except the butter in a sauce pot. Mix witha whisk until completely combined and the sugar is mostly dissolved. Taste it right now, see if it needs more sugar. If it does add 2 Tbsp more and stir it in. This is your last chance to sweeten it more if it needs it.

Get on the stove over medium heat. Stir continuously with a whisk while bringing the mixture up in temperature slowly. You are slowly cooking the eggs and cooking out the cornstarch. As it warms you will feel and see it thicken, reduce the heat if necessary and cook until thick and the starch is completely cooked out – this can take upwards of 10 minutes. Take your time. For real. Lemon flavored scrambled eggs? No thanks.

When it has thickened add the butter and stir. This will start to cook it and it brings it all together. Whisk until it is melted in and immediately strain into a bowl to cool or pour it into the crust if it has cooled enough. When the crust is ready fill it with the curd & place in the refrigerator to set – at least 2-3 hours – before topping.

Chiffon Cream yield about 4 cups

  • 2 cups Heavy Cream
  • 1/4 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Vanilla

Whisk to a firm peak. I do it by hand, hand mixer, stand mixer…what ever blows your hair back, just take it a little past soft peak to slightly extend its shelf life.

Swirl the cream on top of the completely cooled curd, zest some lemon on top and serve cold. It tastes like summer!