pi = 3.14, and a few other decimal places that need not trouble us here, and it is on this tenuous link that today is marked “International Pi Day” - the 14th day of the 3rd month, rendered, in the US, as 3.14.
So here I am, contemplating one of my favourite foods - Pie. I am not sure whether it is a symbol of British baking or whether it really belongs to the US of A, but given the genesis of today, I am taking my inspiration from America, North and South.
I have consulted my US cookbooks, had a look at the wealth of exoticism on display there and been down to Fruit World, Claygate to assess the state of their fruit supplies on a Wednesday morning.
To be honest, it’s not their best day - too early for the abundance of the weekend to come, a little late for the left over bounty of the one just gone, but my heart gladdened a little when I saw that Mick and the boys had a basketful of cherries (Chilean, in case you’re asking, and therein lies the S American connection) - not exactly seasonal, by local standards anyway, and not exactly local either, but looking about right for a pie - a little past their best so no feeling guilty about not eating them in their natural state, but not so far gone that they won’t cook well and there are just 2.5 lbs of them left in the basket - the exact amount I need and at a shockingly good price, all things considered. So, Black Bottom and Lemon Chess, Blueberry and Banana Cream will all just have to wait, and Cherry Pie it is.
I have strayed from my normal tried and tested pastry for the shell - I am advised by more than one source that a cream cheese and butter combination can make for a truly tender but at the same time fantastically flaky crust so am going with it. This does involve the use of a food processor (not at all easy making a bread crumby texture out of Philadelphia and flour with your finger tips) and I am throwing caution to the wind and departing from my normal technique completely - the Americans know a thing or two about pastry dough and I am determined to learn something from them.
Cherries de-stalked and pitted (crime scene kitchen surfaces cleaned - those of you who own a cherry pitter, or two?, you know what I’m talking about) and now back to the job of patiently waiting for the pie to take shape.
Everything requires a little patience with a pie; it is not a quick thrown together event, it requires a little forethought and a little gentle chillin’ while I help nature and science to do their jobs in the pursuit of avoidance of the worst of crimes against pie - a soggy bottom or a cloudy, claggy, middle.
Have decided on the extra complexity of a lattice top - in spite of the untested nature of my dough (US for pastry - see, I am getting the hang of the lingo).
A few complications re keeping the cherry shape intact, preserving good flavour and clarity and avoiding too much juice, later - lattice roofing in place and, as far as I can see at this point, stable.
The pie is “oven-ready”.
Out of the oven, some lessons learned. Happy Pi Day!
“there are few shortcuts to a great pie” (Matt Lewis, Renato Poliafito)