Pie’s the Limit in November
November means Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving means pie. And cutting pie means, of course, Kyocera ceramic knives. Here follows some pie arcana we found when we went pie hunting online:
- Getting an early start on the day of gratitude (still two weeks away), Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter declared today, Thursday, November 10, as “Pie Day” in Philadelphia.
- The LaGrange, Ill., Thanksgiving Day “Run for Pie” is a “pi-K” – the distance is approximately 3.14 (pi – get it?) miles.
- “Pi r squared” is the formula for working out the area of a circle. Square Pie is a British food retail chain based in Hackney, east London, which specializes in handmade pies. It was founded in 2001 by Martin Dewey. “We set up Square Pie in 2001 because we believe the world needs better pies,” says Mr. Dewey. “The word pie had become synonymous with rubbery pastry and dodgy fillings you didn’t trust.”
- Pie—the filling and baking of sweet (fruits, nuts, cheese) or savory (meat, fish, eggs, cheese) ingredients and spices in casings composed of flour, fat and water —is an ancient practice. The Oxford English Dictionary traces the first use of the word “pie” as it relates to food to 1303, noting the word was well-known and popular by 1362.
- The first printed apple pie recipe was by Geoffrey Chaucer in 1381. The ingredients for the pie were good apples, good spices, figs, raisins and pears. He also mentioned a cofyn, which is simply a casing of pastry. The last ingredient, saffron, is used to color the pie filling.
- The first pies called coffins or coffy (a basket or box) were savory meat pies with straight-sided sealed pastry. The purpose of a pastry shell was mainly to serve as a baking dish, storage container and serving vessel. The crusts were tough and inedible. They were inches thick to withstand many hours of baking. American colonists baked many pies. Because of their crusty tops, pies acted as a means to preserve food and were often used to keep the filling fresh during the winter months. As the colonies spread out, the pie’s role as a means to showcase local ingredients took hold, and with it came the new, sweet pies. Pies of today are world-spanning treats, made with everything from apples, pumpkins to cherries and sweet potatoes. Though still based on traditional recipes, contemporary fruit pies contain more fruit and less sugar.
- Contrary to popular opinion, Mock Apple Pie was not invented by Nabisco. Imitation apple pies made with soda crackers were the pride of thrifty 19th century American cooks. Nabisco introduced its Ritz Cracker version in 1935, on year after the product was introduced to the American public. It was an immediate hit.
- Mississippi mud pie is a chocolate-based dessert pie that is likely to have originated in the state of Mississippi. The name comes from the dense cake which resembles the banks of the Mississippi River.
- Carl Sagan said that if you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.
Here’s a recipe for Creole Sweet Potato Pie courtesy of StAugustine.com:
Creole Sweet Potato (or Yam) Pie
Using a rubber spatula thoroughly mix in a large bowl:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. white sugar or 1 tbsp. powdered sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 cup solid vegetable shortening or 1/2 cup shortening and 8 tbsp. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter.
1 qt. yellow or red yams, cooked, skinned and mashed
1/4 lb. unsalted butter
2 cups white sugar
1 cup red label Karo syrup
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
1 cup heavy cream
1 flaky, unbaked pie crust
Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine mashed yams with butter, eggs, sugar, syrup, nutmeg, vanilla and salt. Blend well. Add the cream. Use additional cream if the batter is not moist enough. Mix until all the ingredients are well blended.
Pour the contents into a raw pastry shell. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Servings: 6 to 8. Enjoy.