Other than cooking/baking measurements, there’s not much I enjoy about numbers. Math has always been my least favorite thing in the world, probably because I suck at, BUT that won’t stop me from celebrating a mathematical holiday called ‘Pi Day’.
Celebrated March 14th around the world, Pi Day commemorates ‘Pi’ – the mathematical symbol representing the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, which is approximately 3.14. I know I sound like I’m interested in Pi, but it’s only because I’m interested in PIE. When I began brainstorming March/Spring recipes, I knew I had to use this unofficial holiday as an excuse to make & share a delicious pie recipe.
Creating pie crust from scratch can be intimidating because we all aim to achieve that perfectly flakey crust. After watching enough Food Network, doing research & giving the dough a try for myself, I’m no longer scared. Plus, I’m eating one of these pies while typing this and I promise, homemade crust is SO worth it! If you’re totally against making pie dough from scratch, feel free to use Pillsbury pie crust. If you’re ready to jump in, remember:
- Keep the ingredients COLD
- Use a food processor (if you have one)
- Follow Ina Garten’s recipe – it always comes out perfect.
Although the crust is delicious, the star of this recipe is my lemon ‘curd’. Curd sounds a bit yucky but before I try to pass it off as ‘custard’, there is a difference! Curd has more acidity due to the lemony-citrus flavor, whereas custard is much sweeter. I guess I’ll have to look past the word curd. What makes this recipe so delicious, is the combination of Meyer lemons & average tart lemons. The Meyer lemons are a touch sweeter than what we’re used to, so the marriage of the two makes this recipe the perfect combination of both sweet and tart. Lemon curd is extremely versatile, but in the spirit of keeping with the Pi Day theme, I decided to make hand pies, miniature pies, turnovers – whatever you’d like to call them.
- ‘Tis the season. Meyer lemons are at their peak season from November until the end of March so make sure you get some now! I bought mine at Whole Foods. If you can’t find Meyer lemons, standard lemons are fine but you’ll need a bit more sugar to balance the tartness. (1/2 – 1 cup more, depending on how sweet you’d like the curd). In an air-tight container, lemon curd will last up to 1 week in the refrigerator and for at least 1 month in the freezer. So get your Meyer lemons & make this now!
- Make ahead recipe. I made both the lemon curd and pie dough a day before the hand pies/turnovers, which eliminated a lot of stress. If you follow this method, be sure to keep both the curd and pie dough in the fridge before turning them to pies – they must be cold!
- It’s Pi Day, not curd day. If this lemon curd is intimidating and you need a simpler pie filling recipe for Pi Day, use the filling from my recipe, ‘Mom’s Apple Crumble. While this recipe calls for thinly sliced apples, dice them into small cubes instead.
- Pie crust (Either Pillsbury pre-made pie crusts or follow Ina Garten's 'Perfect Pie Crust' recipe - The link is located in my blog post.)
- For the Lemon Curd -
- Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
- Juice of 3 Meyer lemons
- Juice of 1/2 traditional lemon
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 extra large eggs
- 3 extra large egg yolks
- For the Poppy Topping -
- Egg wash - Using a fork, whisk 2 eggs & a splash of cold water until combined.
- 1/2 cup poppy seeds
- Make the lemon curd - In a medium saucepan, combine the lemon juices, zest, sugar, butter & salt. Using a rubber spatula, stir gently over low heat until the butter has melted and sugar has dissolved. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks. Whisking constantly, gradually pour half the hot lemon mixture into the eggs, then slowly whisk the egg mixture back into the remaining lemon mixture. (Note: It's important to whisk constantly and pour slowly to temper the eggs without scrambling them!) Cook over low heat, scraping the bottom with a rubber spatula until the mixture thickens, about 5-7 minutes. Do not allow to boil. Pour the curd through a mesh sieve set over a medium bowl. Cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees then line 2 baking sheets with parchment or greased tin foil. Set aside.
- Make the hand pies - Roll out the pie dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a round cookie cutter or bowl, cut circles 4-inches in diameter; the circles can be larger but this will affect bake time. Place each circle on the prepared baking sheets, then scoop 1-2 teaspoons of the chilled lemon curd on to the middle of each circle. Using a brush, paint a bit of egg wash around the edges of each circle, then fold them in half. With a fork, seal the edges completely then using a sharp knife, cut 2-3 slits atop each pie to allow steam to escape. Brush the top of each pie with egg wash then sprinkle as many poppy seeds as desired. Bake the pies for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove & cool completely before enjoying. Store extra pies in the refrigerator to keep the curd fresh, then heat in the oven when ready to eat.
- In an air-tight container, lemon curd will last up to 1 week in the refrigerator and for at least 1 month in the freezer.