Pi Day of Distinction

Marlene Nakamoto
June 15, 2015

I’m not one to celebrate math. But in March, when social media pointed out that this year’s Pi Day was going to be 3/14/15, I just had to do something to commemorate it. I made a pie.

You’ll need five or six Granny Smith apples. Or use another baking apple, such as Golden Delicious, Braeburn, Honeycrisp, or Jonagold. 

Carve out the stem and blossom ends with a paring knife.

That makes it easier to push the apple-corer all the way through.


Use a paring knife to peel, peel, peel. You don’t have to keep it as one long peel, but it’s more impressive. As if I have some paring-knife skills or something.

Slice about 1/4-inch thick.


Oops. Almost forgot. If you don’t have an apple corer, slice the peeled apple into quarters, then cut out the core.


I usually buy more apples than the recipe calls for. Mostly because I can never accurately guess that X-number of apples equals X-cups of sliced apples. This time, I bought six, but used only five. Better to have too many than not enough.

Mix spices and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add it to the apples and mix well. Let stand at room temperature while you make the crust.

Make the crust. Normally, I wouldn’t use butter, but I didn’t want to break open another Crisco “stick.”

Work the ingredients together with a pastry blender until coarse crumbs form. Drizzle with an egg beaten with vinegar and ice water. Mix lightly with a fork until dough pulls together.

You’ll have a ball. Divide the ball into four pieces. Wrap three pieces in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze.

Here’s the fourth piece about to be rolled out. (BTW, that’s my mom’s rolling pin, which means it’s older than me. Yep. It’s DANG OLD.) I usually like to roll out the dough with a stockinet … stockingnet … stocking-covered (!) rolling pin on a lightly floured pastry cloth. Since the pastry cloth and stocking are buried somewhere in the linen closet, I used a clean dishtowel. No stocking, however, which resulted in some dough stickage on the rolling pin.

Roll out the dough until it’s big enough to cover the bottom of your pie plate. This is big enough, although slightly irregular. It’ll do.

Drape the dough on the rolling pin and ease the dough onto the pie plate. (Sorry. I couldn’t take a picture of that step.) Trim off excess, tuck the edges under, and pinch and crimp into an attractive pattern. Patch thin or broken areas with excess dough that was trimmed off.

Pile the apples and the juices into the crust.

Sprinkle evenly with streusel topping. Wrap crust (yech … lousy pic) with strips of 2-inch wide foil. This prevents the crust from over-browning. Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in preheated 375-degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove foil, then bake 15 more minutes or until juices bubble and topping is nicely browned.

Here’s the nicely browned pie.


Pie in moderation is OK once in a while. Like on a special, once-in-a-lifetime day that celebrates math. Or holiday, birthday, anniversary, Sunday dinner … see? Just once in a while. But especially on Pi Day.

Dutch Apple Pie

6 cups peeled and sliced Granny Smith apples

2/3 cup sugar

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Streusel topping

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter

9-inch unbaked pie crust

In a large bowl, combine all filling ingredients and mix well. Let stand at room temperature about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. To make streusel topping, combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until small crumbs form. Transfer apples (and juices) to pie crust. Sprinkle topping evenly over apples. Loosely wrap edge of pie with a strip of foil about 2-inches wide. Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in preheated 375-degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove foil strips and return pie to oven for 15 minutes or until juices bubble vigorously and pie is nicely browned. Makes 8 servings.

Flaky Pie Crust

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups shortening

1 egg

1 Tbsp. vinegar

4 Tbsp. ice water

Combine flour and salt in mixing bowl. Add shortening and cut into flour mixture with a pastry blender until coarse crumbs form. In a small bowl, beat egg thoroughly, then stir in vinegar and water. Drizzle over flour mixture and mix lightly with a fork until flour is moistened and holds together in a ball. Makes 4 single crusts.

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