Every year in mid March there is a flurry of pie posts on North American blogs. The reason? The 14th March is Pi Day when the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter is celebrated and many (circular) pies are baked and shared by maths geeks and in schools across the region.
The absence of Pi(e) day in the UK is explained by the difference in our date formatting. In Europe the day goes first, in North America the month. A certain amount of confusion can be garnered with dates in the first 12 days of the month. 12/5 can be the 12th May or the 5th December depending from which side of the Atlantic you are looking at it from. I worked (in London) for an American company for many years and we solved the problem of formatting all our shared spreadsheets to display the month in letters, and I developed a habit, I still maintain, of writing the month in Roman numerals so there could be no confusion.
Pi is (approximately) equal to 22/7 (at least to two decimal places) which is not much use for mathematicians, but a great excuse for a European pie festival in late July!
Last year I was asked to an (edible) pie masterclass by the team at Asda, held at their development kitchens at ASDA towers in Leeds. I eagerly accepted my interests being far more aligned to pie than pi.
The interesting thing about supermarket product development in general is that the chefs start out in a normal kitchen, develop the product and then work out how to scale up for the factory. The steak and ale pies made by the Asda chefs in the kitchen that evening were pretty similar to the same ones from the factory.
We whizzed through the finer points of pie technique; I did not know that pastry only becomes tough when you over mix it once the water has been added – mix the fat and flour as much as you like. A fork handle (four candles?) is perfect to crimp the top of the pie.
Let loose with a plethora of pastry and ingredients the fab Utterly Scrummy and I opted for a two-pastry four-cheese fondue pie with roast vegetables. The idea was to be vaguely healthy and still comforting for the depths of winter, but an insane amount of cheese went into the sauce (make a roux, add milk and white wine, add copious quantities of your choice of cheese), line a pie dish with short crust pastry, fill with roasted veggies, smother with cheese sauce, top with a puff pastry woven lattice and bake. In an (unsuccessful) unashamedly sycophantic attempt to garner favour with the judges we embellished our pie with a puff ASDA too.
Making pies is thirsty work, so whilst they were baking we tasted some well deserved and delicious local beer from Joules, before tucking into our pies. Ours was rather rich, but also very good.
More pie before either the 14th March or 22nd July please!
Many thanks to ASDA for the invitation to the event and paying my travel.