Pi (or Die) Day!

Last year, we competed in San Francisco Food Wars’ “Pie or Die” contest. It was a pie tasting competition (not a “who could eat the most pie” contest but a “who’s pie tastes the best” one) held at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. Alas, our pie did not win. It wasn’t that our pie was bad; it was unique and flavorful, and we even received a decent amount of votes. Some people liked it, just not enough of them to give us the win.

After weeks of preparing, testing, tasting, writing, and photographing we just didn’t have the motivation to post a blog about a pie that didn’t win. We’ve filed the post and the recipe to be used another day.

Today’s the day! We’re not math geeks, so it took a few references to Pi Day to equate that to mean 3.14, or March 14. D’oh! We almost missed the perfect opportunity to post our not-so award winning pie recipe – again. This is a buttermilk pie with roasted apricots and almond streusel, and the crust is made with lard and rye flour. We think that the use of the lard, although tasty, might have prevented many people from voting for or even tasting it (there are a lot of vegetarians in San Francisco). If you must, you can substitute all butter or Crisco for the lard, it just won’t taste the same.

As for the recipe below, you might hit a few bumps in the baking. Jason didn’t write the complete recipe out when we made all 288 individual tarts (and one nine inch pie) for the competition. So if you do try the recipe out and it doesn’t turn out exactly let us know. We will be baking up a pie or two when apricot season begins and will adjust the recipe if need be.

Not-So Awarding Winning Buttermilk Pie
with honey roasted apricots and almond streusel

Rye Crust
Makes 2 pie crusts

Adapted from Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain

1 cup rye flour
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoon salt
1 ½ sticks cold unsalted butter
8 tablespoons cold lard (or shortening)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
4-6 tablespoons ice water

Mix flours, salt and sugar in food processor fitted with metal blade. Cut butter cubes into flour mixture with five 1-second pulses. Add cold lard and continue cutting in until flour is pale yellow and resembles coarse cornmeal with butter bits no bigger than small peas, about 4 additional 1-second pulses. Turn mixture out into a medium-sized bowl.

Sprinkle apple cider vinegar and 3 tablespoons of ice water over mixture. With a fork, fluff to mix thoroughly. Squeeze a handful of dough — if it doesn’t stick together, add remaining water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Divide dough into two balls, one slightly larger than the other then flatten into 6-inch discs. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling.

Roasted Apricots

6 ripe apricots
3 tablespoons lightly flavored honey (such as orange blossom or lavender)

Preheat oven to broil. Line a small baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum. Wash the apricots and cut them in half along their vertical seam. Remove the pit and place halves on the aluminum. Add a half of a tablespoon of the honey in the center of each apricot half. Place near the broiler and roast for 4-6 minutes. Watch the apricots carefully to keep from burning. Apricots can be refrigerated up to one day before assembling.

Almond Streusel Topping
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

1/2 cup almond, chopped coarsely
½ cup flour
¼ cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
½ cup oats

Process almonds, flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in food processor until nuts are finely chopped, about 9 pulses. Drizzle butter over flour mixture and pulse until mixture resembles crumbly wet sand, about 5 pulses, scraping down bowl halfway through. Add oats and process until evenly incorporated, about 3 more pulses. Set aside.

Buttermilk Filling

2 eggs
4 teaspoons flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
pinch of salt
2/3 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoon butter, melted and cooled

Whisk the eggs, flour, sugars, and salt together. Add the buttermilk and cooled melted butter and whisk a little more to incorporate.

Assembling and Baking:

For One Nine Inch Pie
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Roll out one pie dough and place it into a 9” inch pie shell. Crimp the edges decoratively. Pour the buttermilk pie filling into the pie shell and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and place the apricot halves, cut side up, on top of the buttermilk filling. Sprinkle with almond streusel topping and place back in the oven for another 20-25 minutes or until the center of the pie is firm.

For 12 Individual Tarts:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Using mini muffin tins; roll out pie dough and, using a round cookie cutter slightly larger than the mini muffin tin, cut out circles. Place the dough in the muffin tins. Pour in buttermilk filling about half full and place a half or a quarter apricot, depending on the size of the fruit, on top of the filling. Top with some almond streusel and bake for about 20-30 minutes.