The National Pie Day is here; it’s celebrated every year on January 23. But what type of pie person are you? Sweet or savoury? No matter what your favourite is, this day is a great day to indulge in a slice (or a whole pie) to yourself or share with your family.
National Pie Day was started in the mid-’70s by Charlie Papazian, a nuclear engineer from Colorado in the US, who had a penchant for pies.
He decided to celebrate the pleasurable pastry with its own day and chose his birth date on which to do it. Since then, his idea for a National Pie Day has spread around the world.
In celebration, one of South Africa’s largest chef schools, the Capsicum Culinary Studio asked its chefs for a recipe or two, and below is what they came up with.
Best apple pie
Pre-bought flaky pastry, or make your own (recipe below), chilled
7 to 8 Granny Smith apples
100g light brown sugar
100g white sugar
¼tsp fine sea salt
1tsp ground cinnamon
¼tsp ground ginger
¼tsp ground cardamom
¼tsp ground allspice
¼tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Heat oven to 200°C.
To make apple filling: Peel then cut apples in half. Remove cores and slice apple halves into thin 6mm slices.
Place apple slices into a large bowl.
Scatter both sugars, salt, and spices over the apples and toss them with your hands, coating the apple slices as much as possible. Set aside for 1 hour at room temperature.
To prepare pie crust: Roll out half of the pie dough on a lightly floured work surface.
To prevent the dough from sticking and to ensure uniform thickness, roll from the centre of the dough outwards and keep lifting up and turning the dough a quarter turn as you roll.
Check for the correct size by inverting the pie dish over the dough. The dough should be about 3cm to 5cm larger than the dish.
Being careful not to stretch it, place the dough into the pie dish and trim overhanging dough to within 20mm of the edge of the dish. Refrigerate while you make the pie filling.
Roll out the second half of the dough to a similar size as before and transfer it to a large parchment-lined baking sheet. Keep this in the fridge until needed.
Toss cornstarch with the apples.
Transfer the apples into the prepared bottom crust using your hands to really pack them down into the pie.
Fill the pie until apples are at the same height as the edge of the pie crust.
Pour the juices that have accumulated at the bottom of the bowl over the apples, about ½-¾ cup will suffice.
Cut a tablespoon of butter into 8 or so small pieces and dot them over the pie.
For a double-crust pie, place the second pie dough round over the filling or cut it into strips and lattice the top.
If you are not adding a lattice crust but adding the top crust in one piece, use a sharp knife to cut a few slits in the top of the crust to allow steam to vent.
Trim excess dough from the top crust or lattice strips and fold the overhang underneath itself, forming a thick rim. Press it together or crimp it with your fingers or use a fork.
Whisk the egg with a tablespoon of water and use it as an egg wash by lightly brushing the top crust.
This adds shine and helps the crust brown.
Place the prepared pie onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for about 75 minutes, turning a few times for even browning.
Apple pie is done when the juices are bubbling through the vents of the top crust or lattice.
Piercing the pie is also a nice indication of how soft the apples are. If they feel too crunchy, the pie needs more time.
Be sure to cool the pie, without slicing into it, for at least 1 hour, preferably longer.
Keep in mind that the pie filling does not fully thicken until it is completely cooled.
So, for the absolute best results, cool the pie to room temperature, and then place it into the refrigerator for an hour or two.
Note: If you notice that the pie crust is browning too quickly, mould a large piece of foil over a bowl that’s been placed upside down to make a foil dome.
Place the foil dome over the pie for the remaining bake time. This will slow the browning.
For the pastry
325g all-purpose flour
1tsp kosher salt
230g very cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
4 to 8 tbsp ice water
Add 1½ cups of flour as well as the salt and sugar to a food processor. Pulse 2 to 3 times until combined.
Scatter butter cubes over flour and process until a dough or paste begins to form, about 15 seconds. (There should be no uncoated flour).
Scrape bowl, redistribute the flour-butter mixture then add the remaining 1 cup of flour. Pulse 4 to 5 times until flour is evenly distributed. (Dough should look broken up and a little crumbly).
Transfer to a medium bowl then sprinkles ice water over the mixture – start with 4 tablespoons and add from there.
Using a rubber spatula, press the dough into itself. The crumbs should begin to form larger clusters.
If you pinch some of the dough and it holds together, it’s ready. If the dough falls apart, add 2 to 4 more tablespoons of water and continue to press until dough comes together.
Remove dough from the bowl and place in a mound on a clean surface. Work the dough just enough to form a ball.
Cut the ball in half then form each half into discs.
Wrap each disc with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
You can also freeze it for up to 3 months (just thaw it overnight in the fridge before using it).
Easy peasy peanut butter pie
350g savoury crackers (such as Salticrax)
6 tbsp light brown sugar
½tsp n kosher salt
170g unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
160g light brown sugar
1 large egg
270g smooth peanut butter
1 pinch of flaky salt, plus more for sprinkling
To make the pie crust: add the crackers to a big bowl and crush with your hands.
They should be finely crushed, but not like flour. Add the brown sugar and salt and stir to combine.
Add the butter and knead until the mixture is well combined.
Place the mixture into a 23cm pie pan and use your hands to pat it into a compact crust.
Stick in the freezer until it’s frozen and firm (at least 20 minutes.)
While the crust is freezing, heat the oven to 180°C and make the peanut butter filling.
Combine the brown sugar and egg in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Stir in the peanut butter with a rubber spatula until totally smooth.
Add the filling to the frozen crust. Use an offset spatula to spread it evenly, so it totally fills the pie.
Sprinkle generously with flaky salt.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating halfway through until the crust is golden brown, and the peanut butter filling is starting to brown.
Let the pie cool at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours before serving. (You can cover it with foil after a few hours, or whenever it’s cool to the touch.)
Note: If you want to make the crust in advance, wait until it’s firm, wrap it well with foil, and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.