Do you know what day is it today? Saturday, you say? You’re right, of course. It is the day when you hopefully get to sleep in a little, wake up slowly, yawning and stretching in your bed, and when it’s ok to lounge in your PJ-s till noon. (All of this applies only if you don’t have small kids. If you do, you’ve been up since 5 A.M., and from the moment you first jumped up, your day has been a hazy whirl of feeding, cleaning, and trying to keep the little tykes from killing themselves, or murdering each other. Don’t despair. This too shall pass, and soon enough you’ll get to know such Saturdays as I’m talking about).
Saturdays are awesome. But the reason why I’m asking about today is actually the date of this particular Saturday. A quick glance at the calendar reveals it’s March 14th, and according to the all-knowing Wikipedia, on March 14th (or 3/14) math lovers around the world “celebrate π day, commemorating the mathematical constant π, since 3,1, and 4 are the first three digits of π in decimal form”. If you didn’t know, please don’t feel bad. Until last year, I didn’t have a clue either. If you ask me, there is nothing about math that would be even remotely celebration-worthy. Frankly, in my opinion math is just a handy acronym for Mental Abuse To Humans. Over the years I’ve been abused plenty by all those derivations, permutations, factorials, and quadratic functions the honored π is so close to, and I have scars to show for it. As soon as I could I ran from math far, far away, until I found rest in a safe haven of linguistics. The problem was right around that time I also met Mr. Photographer, who turned out to be a math-whizz, and who later gifted me with a carbon copy of himself in one of our sons. I’m afraid there is no way I’ll be able to run from math any time soon.
But back to that iffy π celebration thing. There is no celebration without some sweet treat, and what’s a better way to celebrate π day than with a pie? And because I love baking, and I also kind of like my two math lovers, I’m willing to forget the wounds math inflicted on my psyche and keep the truce for a day. So don your aprons and bake with me. Then eat the pie, share it with math lovers and math haters alike, or have a pie fight and throw freshly baked pies around (just be careful not to poke someone’s eye out with the stick!). Whatever you decide to do, have fun and enjoy yourself. Thankfully, unlike in solving equations, there is no wrong way to celebrate π day!
Pie pops with fresh berry preserves filling
(inspired by A. Smetona’s Easy as a pie pop
Pie crust recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa)
Pie dough (makes 2 9-inch pie crusts, or about 15 pie pops):
- 3 cups (390 g) all-purpose flour, sifted
- pinch of salt
- ½ tablespoon sugar
- 12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
- 1/3 cup cold shortening
- ½ cup ice cold water
Berry preserves (recipe makes about 2/3 cup):
- 200 g (7 oz.) fresh strawberries
- 200 g (7 oz.) fresh raspberries
- 150 g (5 oz.) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon Crème de framboise (raspberry liqueur, optional)
+ 1 egg for egg wash
coarse or colored sugar for sprinkling the top crust
8-inch (20 cm) lollipop sticks
- To make the pie dough: Place the flour, salt, and sugar into a bowl of your food processor, fitted with an S-blade. Add the (cold!) butter and shortening and pulse couple of times until the mixture resembles peas. With the processor still running, add as much cold water until the dough forms a ball. Divide the dough ball in half, wrap it and refrigerate (dough can be made ahead and refrigerated, or even frozen).
- To make the preserves: Run the berries through a food processor or a blender (it makes for a smooth jam that works best for the pie pops). Pour the blended berry mixture into a small saucepan, add all the other ingredients, and cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly. Keep removing the foam from the surface (you can also add 1 teaspoon on butter to reduce foaming). Cook about 30 minutes until the jam is very thick, then let it cool to room temperature while you cut out the pie pops.
- On a well-floured surface, roll one dough ball into a circle (keep the other half in the fridge). With a floured 2.5-inch (6.5 cm) cut out 15 circles for bottom crust of the pie pops. Transfer the cut-out circles on a baking pan or a plate lined with parchment paper and refrigerate while you cut out the top crust of the pie pops.
- Roll out the other half of the dough and cut out 15 circles. With a small cookie cutter cut out the centers to reveal the filling.
- Assembling the pie pops: Brush each bottom crust with a little bit of egg wash and firmly press a lollipop stick in the center. Place about 1 1/2 teaspoon of preserves in the center (don’t overfill the pie pops, you don’t want the jam to ooze out). Place a top crust over the jam and press the edges.
- Crimp the edges with one of the lollipop sticks; first around the stick to hold it in place, and then all around the circle.
- Carefully transfer the pie pops onto baking pans lined with parchment paper. Brush them with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar if desired.
- Bake at 375 – 400 °F (190 °C) for about 15 minutes until golden.