I honestly don’t think I can sufficiently wax poetic about this pie crust. Despite my best efforts to the contrary, I have literally never made a fruit pie that wasn’t woefully undercooked and generally mushy on the bottom by the time the top was crisp and golden brown…until now. It also doesn’t hurt that this pie crust is made entirely by hand, allowing all of us to channel our inner Disney princesses (minus, you know, the whole poisoned apple fiasco and the questionable sanitation practices of allowing birds to help crimp the edges) along the way. And despite certain mishaps with an overly bubbly filling, all things considered, all signs point to excellent pie for Pi Day 2017.
For the normal people of the world who don’t celebrate calendar dates that coincide with mathematical constants, you all are seriously missing out. Especially since, as I suddenly realized last year, the first couple of digits of pi can be repunctuated as 3/14-15, and so it can be socially acceptable to have pie for breakfast for two days in a row since it would technically be Pi Days. (I suppose the extra day can compensate for the fact that there’s really no natural culinary pun for “logarithm” or “Euler,” so there’s not much to do on February 7 except to acknowledge and move on.)
Anyway, in anticipation for this year’s Pi(e) Day (a pre-Pi Day pie, if you will), this week’s extra special treat is a strawberry mango pie with shredded coconut and an extra special kick from a little more than a generous pinch of cayenne powder. While it might sound like a bit of an odd combination, cayenne is clearly pretty magical with coconut and mango, so it really isn’t too much of a stretch to pop it into this recipe. Also, while the juice from an entire lemon might seem like a lot, mango has a tendency to get a bit jammy if it isn’t cut with something a little less sweet, but feel free to taste your filling and adjust based on how sweet your strawberries taste. Just be sure to use the smaller yellow Ataulfo mangoes instead of their red-and-green cousins for a custardy, not stringy finish!
In case the lattice crust looks a little intimidating, rest assured that latticing is actually really straight forward once you get the hang of it! And fortunately, because this pie crust stays delightfully stretchy (not melty) for nearly forever, it is very patient and cooperative as you play around with the overs and unders. In case my attempts at describing the latticing process still seems a bit confusing, there are literally hundreds of videos on Youtube and all other corners of the Internet that show you step by step exactly how to create the perfect woven crust. The only real difference between this plaid-ish pattern and your basic weave is the alternating pattern of thick-thin-thin-thin strands, but as long as you keep the pattern straight, your pie will be perfect. (And even if it isn’t, it’ll still taste wonderful just the same!)
So carry on the annual tradition of celebrating all things pie, and raise a fork to the mathematical greats who figured out precisely when we ought to celebrate. Hope you enjoy!
Happy almost-Pi Day,
Strawberry Mango Pie
Pie crust recipe from Serious Eats
Makes one 9″ pie
225 g all-purpose flour
1 tbs granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup cold water
Strawberry Mango Filling:
1 1/2 lb strawberries, hulled and cut into thick slices
3 Ataulfo mangoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
3 tbs unsweetened shredded coconut
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp cayenne powder (or more to taste)
1 egg yolk
1 tbs milk
1/2 tsp sugar
Vanilla ice cream (coconut would also be great!)
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt until fully incorporated.
- Cut the butter into 1/2″ cubes, then add into the flour mixture and toss to combine. Using your fingers, squish each butter cube until flat, then toss the mixture again.
- Add in the cold water all at once, then knead the dough just until it comes together into a large ball that does not crumble apart.
- Dust a large, smooth surface with plenty of flour, then roll out the dough into a large rectangle about 1/4″ in thickness.
- Fold the sides of the dough in toward the midline, then fold the dough in half again to create a block of dough that is 1/4 of the width of the original rectangle. Repeat in the other direction until you have a small square that measures 1/4 of the original width and length.
Tip: At this point, if the dough feels elastic and resists being rolled out, cover the dough with saran wrap and chill for 20 minutes, or until the dough relaxes again. Repeat whenever the dough feels too elastic to roll properlly.
- Cut the dough in half, mold the dough together in your hands into two balls that holds together without falling apart, then roll out one of the balls into a large circle about 14″ in diameter. Lay the dough in a 9″ pie pan (I prefer glass!) with about an even amount of overhang around the edges of the pan, cover with saran wrap, then set the rolled bottom crust into the fridge to chill.
- Roll out the remaining ball of dough into a large rectangle about 1/16″ to 1/8″ in thickness, then set onto a cutting board, cover with saran wrap, and refrigerate with the rolled bottom crust for about 2 hours to fully chill and relax the dough.
Strawberry Mango Filling:
- Just before filling the pie, toss together the chopped fruit, shredded coconut, sugar, lemon juice, salt, cornstarch, and cayenne in a large bowl until well mixed, then set aside for filling!
- Whisk together the egg yolk, milk, and sugar until well mixed, then set aside for brushing!
- Preheat the oven to 425 °F.
- Remove both the pie pan and cutting board from the refrigerator. Add the strawberry mango filling into the bottom crust and gently spread to smooth out the top.
- Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, slice the large rectangle of rolled pie crust into 6 strips that are about 1″ wide and 18 strips that are about 1/4″ wide. Make sure each strip is at least 10.5″ long.
- Assemble the lattice crust:
- Lay a single thin strip down the center of the pie, then add another thin strip on either side of it. Next comes a thick strip on either side, then three more thin strips, and finally one last thick strip. By the time you are done, you should have 13 vertical strips running along your pie, going in the pattern thick-thin-thin-thin and ending on a thick strip.
- Take the original middle thin strip and fold it backward on itself so that the thin strip now spans a little less than half of the pie. Fold back every other strip along your thick-thin-thin-thin pattern in the same way.
- Lay down a thin strip horizontally across the center of the pie such that it is perpendicular to the rest of the strips.
- Unfold all of the folded strips back over the new thin strip that you just laid down. Leaving the center vertical strip unfolded, fold back the thin strips on either side of it on themselves, and continue folding back every other strip until you reach the two ends.
- Lay down another thin strip, and continue this pattern of unfolding, folding back every other strip (and alternating the strips that you fold each time), and laying down the next strip. Starting from the first thin strip at the center of your pie, your pattern should go thin-thin-thick-thin-thin-thin-thick until you reach the edge of the pie.
- Turn the pie over and repeat to fill out the pattern on the other side and complete the lattice.
- Trim off any excess overhang that hangs longer than the edge of the bottom crust.
- Using your thumb, fold the overhanging portion of the pie crust over the edge of the lattice. Shift over about an inch, and fold over the next section of pie crust, allowing the newly folded section to overlap slightly with the previous section to form a small crimp. Continue crimping until all of the overhanging pie crust is wrapped over to form the edge of the pie.
- Brush the top of the crust liberally with the egg wash, and bake for about 40 minutes to allow the crust to set and the edges to brown. Cut a large square of aluminum foil, then cut a circle about 6″ in diameter in the center and lay the remainder of the square over the top of the pie to form a makeshift pie shield to prevent the crust from overbrowning.
Tip: To catch any drips, bake the pie in the center rack of the oven, then place a large baking sheet on the bottom rack directly underneath the pie pan. Your clean oven will thank you!
- Bake the pie for another 20 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 °F and cover the top of the pie completely to bake for another 20-30 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly in the center of the pie.
- Set aside to cool on a rack for about 2 hours, or until the center of the bottom of the pan is just warm to the touch. Slice, top with generous scoops of vanilla ice cream, and serve immediately. Enjoy!