Introduction: Venn Pie-ogram!
What's better than making one pie for pi day? Making two delicious and mathematically intertwined pies for pi day!
This instructable will walk you through the steps to making your very own fruit filled Venn Pie-ogram. Wow your friends! Be the life of the party! EAT MOAR PIE!
For the purposes of this run-through, my lovely assistant and I chose apple and blackberry. Feel free to experiment with any combination of fruity goodness. Personally, I like going for vibrant color contrast, and I believe custard or meringue pies would prove an unnecessary difficulty, but to each her own.
To get started on making your Venn Pie-ogram, you will need both hardware and 'software'.
For the hardware:
*tin pie plates
*measureing cups and teaspoons
*pastry cutter or a couple of knives
*apple corer (or just a knife)
*scissors (or cutting mat and Exacto knife)
*plastic wrap or other sealed container
*cookie sheet (to catch drips and not smoke up your oven)
For the software--apple & blackberry pie ingredients:
*5 lg green apples
*3 cups blackberries
*5.5 cups+ all purpose flour
*1.5 lb butter
*2 tbsp salt
*1/2 cup ice water
*1/2 cup brown sugar
*1 cup white sugar
*1 lemon (optional)
*turbinado sugar (to sprinkle on top)
Of course, if you have your own special pie recipes you'd like to combine to substitute for the apple/blackberry presented here, you'll likely need the same hardware, but substitute any software to your taste.
Finally, if, like me, you're making the crust dough from scratch, don't forget to remove any jewelry or rings to avoid floury goop in your finery.
Step 1: Make Your Pie Crust Dough
For this step, you'll need:
*pastry cutter (or two butter knives)
*plastic wrap (or other sealed container)
*5.5ish cups flour
*2 tbsp salt
*1/2 cup-ish ice water
For this step, you could buy pre-made pie crust, but you'll have to make sure it's the kind you can roll out and separate; you might need more than four to cover your whole pie-ogram. Personally, I think learning to make a pie crust is super-easy and quick and will leave you with a feeling of empowermment.
Ultimately, for this project, we'll be making two full crust recipes (in other words, two bottoms and two tops).
First, make sure your ingredients are chilled. Believe you me, this is important--especially if you live in a warm/humid climate.
Next, measure out 2.5 cups flour (I used Hungarian stone ground for this because it's what I had on hand. However, a regular finely ground all-purpose white or wheat flour is much more forgivable. If this is your first time making pie crust, for sure use an all-purpose!). Sift it with 1 tbsp salt.
Now, cut in 8 oz (16 tbsp) butter. By cutting in, I mean dice up 8 oz of very cold butter and drop it into the flour/salt. Use your pastry cutter (or two knives in opposition) to continue cutting the butter into pea-sized pearls in the flour, as per the photo. .
Make a well in the middle and add about 2 tbsp ice cold water. Don't overdo the water at the stage. You can always add more water, but it's harder to start adding more flour to get ratios right. If your dough isn't sticking together, add water a few drops at a time until the consistency starts to hold together.
At this point, you can dump the dough (which is mostly together) onto clean surface and continue adding water adn kneading until you get a dough-like consistency.
Once it's all held together, use a knife to divide the dough into two chunks, separate it into two round pancakes, and stack in some plastic wrap to chill in the fridge for a half hour or so, or until slightly firm*. If the dough is too warm, it will stick to the counter when rolling it out. If it's too cold, it will be a little rock. You want chilled dough that won't necessarily absorb more flour when rolling, but that is supple enough to take to a rolling pin.
*If you're making this dough ahead of time, you can store it in the fridge for up to a week wrapped in plastic or in an airtight container. You'll need to thaw it a bit before rolling if you store it longer than about a 1/2 hour.
Step 2: Build Your Architecture
Now that your pie crust is chillin' in the fridge, let's build the architecture of the pie-ogram.
For this step, gather your:
*aluminum pie tins
*Exacto and cutting board (or scissors)
Start by roughing out your overlap by flipping two tins into a concave position and using one on top of the other to trace an arc. We won't cut the arc, but it will be helpful to visualize it and give us our two side cut points.
Now, where that arc intersects with the tin edge, cut the side and the tin bevel off, leaving a ledge and tab to help stabilize the structure under the foil overlay.
Nest your two tins together, inserting a tab of one side into the slot of the other and vice versa on the other side. Fold your sides over any gap that may occur when meshing two round shapes.
Cover the entire thing with aluminum foil to hide any rough edges and keep them from getting stuck in your pie crust. This will also make it easier to extract your pie-ogram for a platter presentation later if you so choose.
Finally, cut two pieces of carboard the height of your pie tin and the length of one side of the inside of your pie-ogram. Make sure to use a non-corrugated cardboard (even something like a cereal box is fine). Cover your cardboard in aluminum foil. This will form our interior walls. Please note that you can reuse your pie tin bevel that was chopped off (if in one piece), but I find it much more difficult to secure, and the natural bevel makes it difficult to build a pie crust around.
Put your fully spliced and lined pie-ogram outline on a cookie sheet. Get your two interior foil-covered-cardboard pieces handy, and follow me to the next step!
Step 3: Laying the Foundation
Okay, now that we have our chilled pie crusts and a sculpted tin to put them in, let's make it happen.
First, make sure your foil-lined pie-ogram plates are sitting on the cookie sheet drip tray, ready to receive a bottom crust. Because of the butter that was cut into the pie crust already, you shouldn't need to add additional butter or grease to the foil-lined tin to release your pie later. If it were cake, then yes. But for this--no need.
Now, get your chilled-but-still-malleable pie crusts out of the fridge. Sprinkle just a tiny bit of flour on a clean counter surface and turn out one pie round. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, start to stretch your dough. Rather than roll back and forth (as might be intuitive), roll in one direction at a time, from the center to edge, until you've stretched your dough large enough to insert into one part of your pie-ogram.
To lift the pie dough on to your prepared tins, start at one edge and roll it around your rolling pin. It should be floured enough that your pie dough won't stick to the pin or itself, but instead (like a fruit roll up) roll onto the pin and off again over your prepared tin.
To cover one-third of your pie-ogram shape, ti might be most helpful to have an additional pair of hands (aka your 'lovely assistant') in order to hold up one interior foil-covered cardboard piece. Once you start molding pie crust around it, though, it becomes pretty self-supporting.
If your pie crust breaks (as it may in these awkward shapes), use a drop of water to "glue" your pie crust back together. This is especially important in those pesky corners. Tear off any excess, leaving just enough to crimp the edges with fingers or a fork.
When all is said and done, repeat on the other side, and then fill in the middle of your pie-ogram. The general principles remain the same, the shape shifts slightly depending on which side/middle you are working on.
Now, set your oven temperature to 350 degrees, and set pie crust aside.
Step 4: Get Your Fruit On
We have made pie crust, let it chill, created a Frankenstein's Monster of pie tins, lined pie tins with foil, and then built out the bottom pie crust. Now, we must fill it with deliciousness.
For the apple pie, you'll need:
*about 5 tart (granny smith) apples, peeled and cored
*1/2 cup brown sugar
*1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup flour
*4 oz butter
*1/4 cup water
For the apple pie sections, peel and core your granny smiths. Slice them into about 8-12 sections per apple, roughly. The most important part is uniform size overall, and about 1/3" on the wide side. Stack them neatly in one third of your pie-ogram shell.
On the stovetop, bring 4 oz butter and a 1/4 cup flour to a boiling paste, much like a roux. When a smooth consistency is reached, add 1/4 cup of water with the white and brown sugar. Bring to a boil until all the sugar dissolves. (We're basically pre-constructing what would normally happen in the baking process if you were to toss the apples ahead of time with flour and sugar, if you haven't guessed.) Now, bring to a rolling boil, then set aside briefly.
For the blackberry part:
*4(ish) cups fresh blackberries
*1/2 cup sugar
*1/2 cup flour
*lemon juice/zest (optional)
*pats of butter
With the blackberries, I'll use a traditional fruit pie method*. Put 2/3 of the blackberries in a bowl and smash them up with a fork (or a potato masher, or your hands, etc). Then, add the remaining 1/3 of the blackberries to the same bowl. Toss with flour and sugar. You can add a dash of lemon juice and/or zest the rind into the bowl as well.
Now that you have prepared your fruits, start lining your pastry crust pie-ogram. In one large exterior portion, line up your evenly sliced apples, one on top of another, into a mounded heap.
In the other larger and opposite exterior portion, fill the crust with your blackberry mixture.
In the center overlap, combine both fruits in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Know that your blackberries might tint the apples to such a degree that it still looks a bit purple in the middle.
*If you choose, you can dress your apples and blackberries the same way, either tossing lightly with flour/sugar, or pouring the prepared syrup over the whole pie. That's really your prerogative. I don't care one way or the other. Personally, I would use the syrup (it's like CANDY!) over both halves.
Step 5: Lattice and Bake
SWEET! Our pie crust is filled to the brim with delicious, luxurious, ripe fruits. Now, we need a top crust and some syrup-ey goodness.
To make the lattice top, pull out your remaining chilled pie crusts. Roll them out one at a time and cut strips. Weave these strips so that one part of the Venn Pie-gram is going vertically (or diagonally) in one direction, the other opposing. By the time my lovely assistant and I had a few vodka-sodas, we didn't think far enough ahead to take advantage of the natrual curvature of the pie-ogram and place our lattice diagonally. It is a suggestion I would make in retrospect.
However, as per the photo, there is still something of a Venn overlap effect even working on the X-Y axes.
Now that you have a lattice top that is only actually interwoven in the center portion of your pie-ogram, you can take that decadent sugary syrup off the stove and pour it over the apple parts*. For the blackberry part, you can use a bit of milk or whisk an egg and brush it over the lattice for a nice glazed effect. Sprinkle all the bits with raw (or turbinado) sugar. It looks all purdy and stuff.
At this point, your pie-ogram is complete sans baking. Simply stick that tray in the oven on the middle rack at 350 degrees for about an hour. Pull it out, let it cool for 1/2 hour minimum, and then bust into that badass goodness.
Or, as my lovely assistant did, take it to your D&D night and wow the nerds with delicious mathematics.
*Or, if you preferred from step 4, use that syrup for the whole pie, rather than treating the apple and blackberry as separate recipes, necessarily.
**Did you give it a whirl? Let me know! Comment and share your pics and your recipes! :) <3