March 14, 2011

Not Much Cebration on Pi Day

The Coconut Cream Pie I made for Pi Day turned out great... so great that Juli and I have finished off half of it ourselves over the course of a couple days.  I made an additional pie, intending mostly to share it with my coworkers.   Unfortunately, that pie didn't turn out right due to a major error on my part.  Too bad, because it looked great.

The pie in question was a Lemon Custard Pie.  To make the filling, I followed a Cook's Illustrated recipe, save that I added just a bit of nutmeg to the filling and sprinkled a tiny bit atop the pie before putting in the oven to bake.  The filling was really, really good.... the creamy, lemon-flavored custard was just plain perfect, in fact.   The crust, sadly, not so much.

Instead of using the crust suggested with the recipe (which is a fairly old one, from 1999), I used Cook's Illustrated's famous Foolproof Pie Dough recipe (also known as the Vodka Pie Crust).  I followed that recipe to the letter... or tried to, anyhow.  It cooked up wonderfully, but as Juli and I sampled a piece, I discovered that I'd made a significant error.   The pie crust was incredibly salty, such that although it looked wonderful, it was quite inedible.  

I have a pretty good idea what went wrong.  The recipe calls for both 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of sugar, and I strongly suspect that I grabbed the salt container a second time and added a tablespoon of salt instead of the sugar.   One benefit of having pre-cooked the crust before adding the custard is that the saltiness was thoroughly cooked into the crust and didn't spread into the custard, so at least we can still enjoy the custard (we scooped it out and tossed the too-salty-to-eat pie crust).

So, I unfortunately don't have too much to take to work for Pi Day.   Still, I found another great pie recipe, and I got a good reminder to be a little more careful when grabbing ingredients.  I think I'll make the Lemon Custard Pie again - this time with the right amount of salt in the crust - later this week or next weekend.   It'll be too late for Pi Day, but any day is a good day for pie.

Cooking Tip:
If you need to do blind baking but don't have pie weights, dried beans are an effective substitute.  I used a pound of great northern beans.  Simply line the uncooked pie crust with foil or parchment paper, then fill it in with beans.


  1. I know just how you felt when you took a taste of that pie crust. All of us have at one time or another have been there, done that. The filling sounds good.

  2. I'm glad to hear that, because I sure felt like a doofus once the saltiness of the crust hit me. Just as I realized what was up, Juli commented on it. And the pie looked so wonderful!

    The filling really is great, though, and the pie would have turned out great if I'd not mistaken the salt cannister for the sugar. I'll be using that recipe again, possibly making a plain custard or orange custard pie next time around.