Tri-PiE-Day Experiment




Introduction: Tri-PiE-Day Experiment

The stage was set for a pie the likes of which I have never seen. The combination of two of my favorite places on the web got my mind wheels spinning and the ideas began pouring out. It only took minutes to realize that this pie was going to be made to excess using completely over the top ideas and technology. The project spanned days, caused frustration, and produced a whole lot of Pie. After hours of researching and deciding on a course of action a plan was in place. What I ended up with was a pie with a stenciled crust cut by an automated cutter and three separate pie fillings all encased on one pie shell their flavors separated even though they were baked together.

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Step 1: Pie Dough

The first part to tackle was the dough. Not having baked many pies in the past I decided to do some research on the differences between butter and shortening before coming to a decision on what type to use. The conclusions I drew from my research were that both doughs offer a melt in your mouth texture, but that butter based doughs offer more flavor and bring flakiness into the texture of the dough.

The Ingredients:
   1 1/4 cups flour
   1/4 tsp salt
   1/2 cup unsalted butter(1 stick) cold and cubed
   1/4 cup iced water
   A food processor (it makes things really easy)

The process:
1) Put the flour, salt, and cubed butter into the food processor and pulse the ingredients till the ingredients form the consistency of   wet sand.
2) Turn the food processor on and slowly pour in the ice water till the everything comes together and forms a ball. Immediately stop the food processor.
3) Remove the dough from the food processor, form into a ball by hand, place onto a flour dusted rolling surface, and roll our to approximately 1/8 of an inch thick.

Note: this recipe is enough dough to fill a pie shell. In order to top the pie you will have to make an additional batch for the top as I had to do. ( or make a crumb topping as I did for the extra pie I made.)

Step 2: A Stenciled Crust

In an effort to go the extreme I decided to try and cut the crust mechanically as opposed to freehand. Testing found that the dough was just too thick to roll through the vinyl cutter I was trying to use so I ended up cutting a stencil out of cardboard, then laying it over the rolled out dough and using an X-acto knife to cut the pattern out of the pie dough.

I created the artwork for the stencil in illustrator, but haven't included the file because after having made the pie I realized the artwork would require heavy editing to ensure a better post baking visual outcome.

Step 3: The Filling Separator

Having decided to make a single pie that contained three different pie fillings I had to device a separator that could be left in the pie while baking, but be removable for post baking presentation. Using parchment paper I cut a custom set of dividers that fit into the pie pan and had tabs that allowed me to pull it out through the openings in the pie after it was done baking. Because the dough in the pie dish isn't shaped to any exacting dimension there was a bit of trial and error involved. I used a compass to set the lines on 60 degree intervals so there were six separate areas within the pie and creased the dough with a knife where the divider would lay.

Step 4: Apple Filling

Because this pie is an experiment I chose to make full batches of the pie fillings and then generate adjusted recipes for the fillings based on what I used to make the pie. I will on include both full and tri-pie adjusted recipes.

Apple Filling

Ingredients (full recipe):
   6 cups apples (I prefer Golden Delicious)
   Juice of one lemon (prevents the sliced apples from browning, but using more or less can adjust the taste)
   2 tbsp flour
   3/4 cup white sugar
   1/2 tsp ground cinammon
   1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

Ingredients (tri-pie portion):
   2 cups apples
   Juice of half a lemon
   2 tsp flour
   1/4 cup flour
   1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
   Pinch of ground nutmeg

1) Peel and slice the apples to about an eighth to a quarter of an inch thick.
2) Pour lemon juice over apples to keep from browning.
3) In a separate bowl mix together flour, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
4) Pour dry ingredient mixture over apples and toss to coat apple slices.
5) Mound filling into pie crust.

Photo Note: I am addicted to apple pies, they are by far my favorite, and I have a contraption that I have included in a picture that makes cutting and peeling apples insanely easy. It is truly awesome. If you find yourself in need of one just search for an "apple peeler corer". I can peel and cut a large bag of apples in under five minutes.

Step 5: Cherry Filling

For the cherry pie filling one could use a store bough filling, but I decided to make it myself for the experience.

Ingredients (full recipe):
   2 cups pitted sour cherries (if not in the baking aisle they are most likely by the canned fruit)
   1 1/4 cups white sugar
   10 tsp cornstarch
   1 tbsp butter
   1/4 tsp almond extract

Ingredients (tri-pie portion):
   1 cup pitted sour cherries
   3/4 cup white sugar
   5 tsp cornstarch
   1/2 tbsp butter
   1/8 tsp almond extract

1) Combine cherries, sugar, and cornstarch in a medium saucepan, then let sit for a few minute to let everything soak together.
2) Place the mixture on stove and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 minutes.
3) Remove from heat and stir in butter and almond extract.
4) Pour into a prepared pie crust.

Note: When measuring cherries I used a slotted spoon to first scoop out the cherries and put them in a measuring cup, then poured the cherry juice over the cup to fill in the empty spaces between the cherries.

Step 6: Blueberry Filling

Having never made a blueberry pie before I foud a recipe that seemed good and went with ti. I don't really have much else on the subject.

Ingredients (full recipe):
   3 cups blueberries
   1 cup sugar
   1/3 cup flour
   1/8 tsp salt
   2 eggs beaten
   1/2 cup sour cream

Ingredients (tri-pie portion):
   2 cups blueberries
   2/3 cup sugar
   1 tbsp flour
   pinch of salt
   2 eggs beaten
   1/3 cup sour cream

1) Combine sugar, flour, and salt.
2) Mix in eggs and flour.
3) Put blueberries in a prepared pie dough and pour mixture over blueberries.

Step 7: Assembley & Baking

Now its time to bring it all together. The first filling that I put in was the apple because it was the least wet and loose of the three. I used the apple pieces like a puzzle to fill in their spaces on the pie. Next I put the loose blueberries into their spaces on the pie. After that I put the cherry pie filling into the remaining spaces on the pie. Lastly I poured the liquid portion of the blueberry filling over the blue berries.

For the top crust i froze it after cutting out the pattern so that I could easily pick it up and place the lines over the divides in the pie. It only took a few minutes for the edge to that out so that I could crimp the pie. After I crimped the pie I used a kitchen brush to paint on beaten egg yolks to get that shiny golden brown crust.

Each of the pie recipes I sourced from had slightly different baking temperatures and times, but all were relatively close so I basically averaged them together and ended up baking the pie at 375 degrees for 55 minutes. It worked and none of the fillings were over or under done.

Step 8: A Late Addition

Whipped cream is a common pie topping but after being inspire by a cold blueberry pie my mother makes and the cream cheese fruit dip that has become popular in stores I decided to experiment a bit more. What I came up with as a final ode to Pi was whipped-cream-cheese spheres.

Whipped-Cream-Cheese spheres

   1/2 cup cream cheese (softened)
   1/2 cup powdered sugar
   1 container of Cool Wip

1) mix together cream cheese and powdered sugar.
2) Whip mixture into Cool Whip
3) place mixture into freezer and whip every few minutes to keep the exterior from becoming rock hard.
4) When the mixture starts to feel like a tub of ice cream grab palm fulls of the mixture and shape into spheres, then place back into the freezer for a few minutes to firm up
5) server over slices of pie.

Step 9: Closing Thoughts

I had fun with my experiment, the pie turned out tasty, and because there was so much extra apple pie filling left over I was able to make an extra pie, it just didn't look like Mt. Everest like my apple pies usually do. Will I ever attempt the tri-pie again? Maybe, but not in the near future this thing uses a lot of dishes, the mound in the picture is actually just of the first washing after making the apple filling so that I could continue. The whipped cream cheese spheres tasted good, and goes best with the cherry and blueberry fillings. I will use it again but skip the freezing and shaping steps and just use it like a regular whipped topping.

To all those at Instructables and Serious Eats thanks for reading and happy baking.

-Zach B.

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    2 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I am seriously in awe! This took a lot of work even before you put it together and you did it as an instructable at the same time! Bravo!!!! :-)