Happy Pi Day! Our Best Pie Recipes, Ever

Happy Pi Day! Every year on March 14, we celebrate that numerical oddball and mathematical constant otherwise known as 3.14159...
Except, we don't, because unless you run in very specific circles, you probably haven't utilized pi since your tenth-grade trigonometry final. Pi, while a mysterious and enduring figure in the fields of math and science (and occasionally pop culture), just doesn't get much recognition in our day-to-day lives, though it resides in every circle we encounter. And, that includes the most important circles in the world: PIES.
Indeed, pi may be the very crux of geometry, cosmology, and thermodynamics, but let's be real — pie is better. Pie will endure in our very souls long after the mystery of pi is solved and we've found the final digit. Pie may not have helped to build the Great Pyramid of Giza (as far as we know), but it does have the power to make everyone at your table happier than they were before. Pi is great, but you can't eat it à la mode.
In celebration of this irrational holiday, we give to you our all-time favorite pie recipes. Of all the greats we've found over the years, these are the ones we've permanently bookmarked and made over and over again to share with demanding friends (and sometimes not to share with ANYONE). None of these will help you do your math homework, but who cares about math when you have a face full of pie?
Put away the protractor, and find yourself some butter. You're about to have a very good weekend.
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Photo: Courtesy of Savour Fare.
Spiced Cocoa Buttermilk Pie

1 pie crust
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1 1/4 cups sugar
6 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prick the pie crust with a fork, and blind bake for 10 minutes, or until just starting to color.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Add the flour, cocoa, spices, and buttermilk, and stir until combined.

3. Pour into the prepared pie crust, and bake at 350 for 25 minutes. The pie should still have a bit of wobble but will set as it cools.

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Photo: Courtesy of Bubby's.
Savory Butternut Squash Pie

1 nine-inch pie crust
2 cups fresh butternut squash puree
1 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp whole butter
4 cloves chopped garlic
1 yellow onion, diced
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp freshly chopped sage
1 tsp freshly chopped tarragon
1 tbsp freshly chopped thyme
2 tsp sea salt
Pinch of ground cayenne
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
3 large eggs
1 tsp orange zest
Juice from 1/2 orange
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus 3 tbsp reserved for the top

Butternut Squash Puree
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Take one small (three to four pounds) butternut squash, and carefully cut it into halves. Remove the seeds, and place cut face down in a baking dish.

2. Bake for about an hour, until a knife slides through it easily. Let it cool.

3. Scoop out the meat into a mixing bowl. With a potato masher, smash it up until smooth, leaving no lumps at all.

1. In a sauté pan, melt the butter until bubbling. Add the garlic, and cook until sizzling. Add the diced onion, and cook until it begins to brown. Set aside, and cool.

2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, seasonings, one cup grated Parmesan cheese, and set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend the squash puree, cream, eggs, garlic and onion mixture, orange zest, and orange juice until smooth. Add the dry ingredients, and blend until just combined.

4. Pour the mixture into the par-baked pie shell, and place on rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle the remaining grated Parmesan on top, and place in the middle rack of the preheated oven.

5. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until just barely set in the center. Wiggle the pie gently to test its doneness — look for a center that jiggles but doesn’t look sloshy. The retained heat in the custard will continue cooking the middle as the pie cools off. Don’t overcook it or the texture won’t be as silky.

6. Cool the pie completely on a cooling rack before cutting, at least a few hours. Serve at room temperature.

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Photo: Courtesy of Bang Bang Pie Shop.
Chocolate Chess Pie

For the pie:
1 nine-inch pie crust, pre-baked until golden brown
3/4 cups unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
4 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 330 degrees, and place baking sheet in the oven. Stir butter and chocolate in a heavy, small saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat; cool for 10 minutes.

2. Whisk sugar and eggs in medium bowl to blend. Whisk in chocolate mixture, then vanilla and salt. Spoon filling into crust.

3. Place pie on baking sheet in oven. Bake 30 to 45 minutes.

4. Bake until edges of filling puff and begin to crack and center is just set. Allow pie to set at least two hours before serving.

For the rosemary caramel:
1/2 cup cream
1/4 cup butter
4 to 6 rosemary sprigs
1 lb (1 package) caramel candy cubes

1. Heat one-half cup of cream and one-fourth cup butter in a medium saucepan until hot but not scorching. If you have one, use a double boiler to prevent scorching the candy and milk product.

2. Turn off heat, add sprigs of rosemary, and steep for five minutes, or until rosemary becomes fragrant and turns cream slightly green.

3. Remove herb sprigs, and bring cream back up to high temp.

4. Slowly add caramel cubes while stirring cream. Cubes will begin to melt and form a caramel sauce. Stop adding caramels once you reach desired consistency. Garnish chocolate pie with caramel sauce and flaked sea salt.

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Photo: Courtesy of Healthy. Happy. Life
5 Ingredient Vegan Pumpkin Pie
Makes two pies

8 oz tofu cream cheese
30 oz (about 3 3/4 cups) canned pumpkin-pie mix
1 1/4 cups soaked raw cashews (soaked overnight in salted water)
3 tbsp lemon or orange juice (optional — adds a slight zippy undertone)
2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
2 graham-cracker pie crusts (or your own recipe)
Handful of cashews for garnish

1. Soak your raw cashews in salted water overnight or at least six hours. They should break apart easily and be tender to bite when properly soaked.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Drain your nuts, and set aside. Also set aside about 15 to 20 cashews for garnish.

4. In a food processor, add the cream cheese, pumpkin-pie mix (or substitute ingredients), cashews, and lemon juice. Blend on high until a creamy texture is reached. Pulse in additional cinnamon. (Other spices may be added as well.)

5. Pour your puree into your two pie crusts.

6. Swirl and smooth top with fork. Dot on cashews around the edge and center as you'd like.

7. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Cool. Place in fridge to firm before serving.

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Photo: Courtesy of Bubby's.
Bubby's Sour-Cherry Lattice Pie

1 nine-inch pie crust, chilled
5 1/3 cups pitted sour cherries*
1/4 cup ground quick-cooking tapioca
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp almond extract
A pinch of salt
Sugar to sprinkle on top

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Pit fresh sour cherries into a bowl. Combine them and the juice they create with the quick-cooking tapioca so that it has a chance to soften.

2. Roll out two pie-dough rounds, and line a nine-inch pie pan with one round of dough. Cut the second into lattice strips. Chill both.

3. Measure the sugar, salt, lemon zest, almond extract, and melted butter into the cherries. Toss briefly, and pour into the bottom crust. Cover with lattice top crust. Curl up crust edge, and crimp. Chill pie well in freezer or refrigerator before baking.

4. Sprinkle top lightly with sugar. Bake the pie on a rimmed cookie sheet for 10 minutes, or until the crust looks dry, blistered, and blond. Turn the oven down to moderate, 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake at least a half an hour more, or until the crust is golden brown and visible juices are thickened and bubble slowly through the lattice top crust. Be patient — it could take an hour more. This second cooking time varies from pie to pie, oven to oven. Cool completely before cutting, at least a few hours. Serve at room temperature. Store uncovered so the pastry can breathe at room temperature up to two days.

*If you’re working with frozen cherries in sugar syrup, thaw and drain them in a colander positioned over a bowl. (Unlike the fresh cherry juice, don’t retain it for the pie — use this sweetened juice for some other thing, like homemade cherry soda, as we do at Bubby’s.) Thaw cherries a couple of hours before they are needed. When they’re ready, combine them with the tapioca. Also, decrease sugar to two-thirds of a cup.

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Photo: Courtesy of KVL Group.
OG Pecan Pie

1/2 to 1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 pound pecan pieces (about 2 cups or more)
3 tbsp butter, melted
1 pie crust, unbaked (that will fit a removable bottom tart pan)

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine corn syrup, sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, vanilla, eggs, pecans, and melted butter. Pour into unbaked pie crust.

2. Bake on the low rack of a preheated 300-degree oven for one hour, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

3. Bring to room temperature, and top with lightly whipped cream, sweetened with a little maple syrup or sugar.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Kitchy Kitchen.
No-Bake Strawberry Lemon Cream Pie

2/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
Pinch of salt
2/3 cup water
4 cups fresh strawberries, quartered
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
1 pie crust or store-bought pie dough
1 1/2 cup whipping cream
10 lemon verbena leaves (fresh or dried, and if they're hard to find, four lemon peels are fine)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup sugar

1. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Blend in water and two and a half cups strawberries. Bring to a boil, stirring and roughly smashing the strawberries. Boil, stirring constantly, until mixture is very thick. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla extract, butter, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Cool.

2. For the lemon verbena whipped cream, combine the sugar and one-fourth cup water in a small saucepan, and add the leaves. Simmer for three minutes (until the sugar is fully absorbed), and turn off the heat. Let the syrup fully cool. This can be done up to a week in advance for extra flavor. Strain the syrup, and add it to the whipping cream along with the vanilla. Whip to form soft peaks.

3. Add the strawberry mixture to the pie crust, and top with the remaining fresh strawberries. Dollop the whipped cream in the center, and spread, still revealing the strawberries at the edge. Garnish with chopped strawberries. Enjoy!

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Photo: Courtesy of Smitten Kitchen.
Apple Slab Pie

For the crust:
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp table salt
3 sticks unsalted butter, very cold
3/4 cup very cold water

For the filling:
3 1/2 to 4 pounds apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into approximately 1/2-inch chunks (about 8 cups)
Squeeze of lemon juice
2/3 to 3/4 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you like your pies)
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp table salt

To finish:
2 tablespoons heavy cream or one egg, beaten with 1 tbsp of water

For the glaze (optional):
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tbsp milk, water, lemon juice, or fresh apple cider, plus a drop or two more if needed

1. Whisk together flour, sugar, and salt in the bottom of a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, two forks, or your fingertips, work the butter into the flour until the biggest pieces of butter are the size of tiny peas. Gently stir in the water with a rubber spatula, mixing it until a craggy mass forms. Knead the dough two or three times to form a ball. Divide dough roughly in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap, and flatten a bit, like a disc. Chill in fridge for at least an hour or up to two days, or slip plastic-wrapped dough into a freezer bag, and freeze for up to two months. To defrost, leave in the fridge for one day.

2. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line bottom of 10-by-15-by-1-inch baking sheet or jelly-roll pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice until coated. Top with remaining filling ingredients, and stir to evenly coat.

3. On a lightly floured surface, roll one of your dough halves into an 18-by-13-inch rectangle. This can be kind of a pain because it is so large. Do your best to work quickly, keeping the dough as cold as possible and using enough flour that it doesn’t stick to the counter. Transfer to your prepared baking sheet, and gently drape some of the overhang in so that the dough fills out the inner edges and corners. Some pastry will still hang over the sides of the pan; trim this to three-quarters of an inch. Pour apple mixture over, and spread evenly.

4. Roll the second of your dough halves into a 16-by-11-inch rectangle. Drape over filling, and fold the bottom crust’s overhang over the edges, sealing them together. Cut small slits to act as vents all over the top crust. Brush with heavy cream or egg wash. Bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack until just warm to the touch, about 45 minutes.

5. In a medium bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar and liquid of your choice until a pourable glaze consistency is reached. Use a spoon to drizzle over top. Serve slab pie in squares or rectangles, warm or at room temperature.
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Photo: Courtesy of Fat Radish.
Celery Root Pot Pie

3 medium celery roots
1 red onion, diced
1 head of black garlic, peeled and chopped
White insides of a stalk of celery, chopped
1 cup brioche croutons
1 apple, peeled and chopped
3 cloves allspice
1 bay leaf
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup parsley and chives, chopped
1/4 cup cream
1/2 gallon milk
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup grated Gruyère cheese
1 egg
1 puffed pastry sheet
Salt & pepper

1. Peel and dice celery root, reserving scraps but not peelings in a pot. Add to scraps apple, allspice, bay leaf, and cover with milk; simmer until the celery root scraps are soft.

2. Roast celery dice in a separate pan with butter and herbs until soft. Roast diced onions in a pan until soft. In a blender, combine cooked celery root scraps and apple (removing bay leaf and allspice) until smooth, using cream, butter, and some of the cooking liquid. It should be smooth and a soup consistency.

3. In a large bowl, combine cooked celery root, diced onions, raw celery hearts, black garlic, and croutons. Add celery root puree to mix until desired consistency; season with salt and pepper, parsley, and chives. Add mixture to dish or serving bowl, top with grated cheese.

4. Cut a circle slightly bigger than your bowl out of the puff pastry sheet, and lay it over the top of your dish. Brush with egg, and press to top of bowl, forming a cap around the sides. Bake in oven for 10 to 12 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until warm inside and puff pastry has risen.