This weekend is sandwiched between March 14th, Pi Day, and March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day. What better way to celebrate the two holidays than to make a St. Patty’s Day-themed pie?
Pi Day recognizes the Greek letter π, or Pi, which mathematically represents the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. The first three digits of Pi are 3.14, which is why the holiday is celebrated on March 14th.
Over one trillion digits of Pi exist, and the numbers proceed without any sort of pattern (1).
There are quite a few stories behind St. Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland. Patrick was born around 385 in Scotland. He was taken during a raid when he was fourteen, and became enslaved in Ireland as a shepherd. Patrick escaped when he was twenty years old upon following a dream in which G-d told him to go to the coast. He sailed to Britain and was reunited with his family.
Patrick studied the laws of the church, and became a bishop. He was directed to take his Gospel in Ireland in 433. Patrick traveled throughout Ireland, campaigning for the ways of the church. He converted thousands to Christianity over 40 years, and even Kings started practicing the religion upon listening to Patrick’s words.
Patrick was a gentle man who was completely devoted to the Church. His mission is celebrated annually on the day of his death, March 17th, which is now known as St. Patrick’s Day.
The shamrock became connected with Ireland because Patrick used it to symbolize the Trinity during his teachings (2).
You can’t make an Irish-themed pie without adding alcohol to it. Well, I guess you can, but it won’t feel nearly as authentic, since this holiday is known for intoxicating celebrations and spirituous partying.
Vodka is usually the alcohol of choice when baking pie crust because it doesn’t alter the taste, but Bailey’s Original Irish Cream will be the star of this recipe.
Bailey’s Original Irish Cream is a blend of Irish dairy cream (from grass-fed Irish cows), spirits, Irish whiskey, cocoa extract, and beet or cane sugar. About ¾ of its ingredients and packaging are obtained from Ireland.
Almost 40,000 cows are milked daily to produce enough Irish milk for annual sales of the liqueur (3).
This specific recipe is unique because we’ll put the Irish cream into the pie filling, the topping, and the crust.
Remember when we discussed gluten formation in bread? Gluten is the main protein in wheat, and adding water to wheat will allow its protein components, glutenin and gliadin, to form a cohesive structure that provides the proper texture of dough.
This principle works very well when making dough for breads and pizzas. However, water provides a denser pie crust due to the network of glutenin and gliadin.
The best way to increase the flakiness and tenderness of a pie crust is to add alcohol to the recipe! Alcohol prevents most of the gliadin and glutenin from interacting. This allows the baker to increase the liquid concentration of the pie dough without having to add additional flour. A flakier crust is obtained due to the extra liquid involved in the baking process (4).
You can do a little experiment to see how alcohol works on gluten. Mix a cup of all-purpose flour with enough water to form pliable dough. Immerse this dough in a bowl of water for half an hour to extract the starch from the flour. Then wash the dough using a mesh sieve to remove all the starch until the excess water is clear. The leftovers are simply raw gluten. Submerging the gluten into pure alcohol will cause the glutenin and gliadin to unwind. Gliadin will resemble silk, and glutenin will look like rubber (5).
It’s time to make our first pie with alcohol. May the luck of the Irish be with you!
Bailey's Irish Cream Pumpkin Pie
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 Tbsp Bailey’s Original Irish Cream Filling:
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 15 oz (1 can) pumpkin puree
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup skim milk
- 1/2 cup Bailey’s Original Irish Cream Topping:
- 2 cups nonfat Greek yogurt (plain)
- 1 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup 2% milk (or skim)
- 3 Tbsp Bailey’s Original Irish Cream
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Make the crust: Mix the flour and sugar in a 9-inch pie dish. Make a well (indent) in the center of the dry ingredients. Melt the coconut oil, and add it to the well. Then add olive oil. Mix the ingredients with a spoon until a soft texture is formed. Then add the Bailey’s Irish Cream. *This might make the dough clumpy upon mixing.* Keep stirring the ingredients together, and the dough will become soft once again.
- Shape the pie crust: This is the trickiest part of the recipe. Because the dough gets soft, it is difficult to shape it with your fingers. It’s much easier to flatten the dough using a spoon. Start from the middle of the pan, and work your way towards the edges and up the side of the pan. It takes at least 5 minutes to form the proper crust structure. Don’t give up! You might also form holes in the dough during this process. Take some extra dough off the side of the pan, and flatten it into the hole.
- Place the crust in the oven for 3 minutes only. This will slightly harden the dough, so a separation exists between the crust and the filling.
- Make the filling: In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Whisk the canned pumpkin, olive oil, and eggs into the mixture. Finally, add the milk and Bailey’s Irish Cream. Stir until all the ingredients are incorporated evenly into the filling.
- Fill 3/4 of the pie tin with this mixture. There will likely be some leftovers that can be added to a smaller baking pan (perhaps a cupcake tin). Place the pie in the oven for 55 – 65 minutes, or until an inserted knife or toothpick comes out cleanly. Check the pie after 40 minutes, because the leftover filling will probably be finished around this time.
- Make the topping: In a large bowl, whip the Greek yogurt and sugar with an electric hand mixer. Once the yogurt gets fluffy like a pillow, mix in the vanilla extract. Add the milk while whipping. The milk will start to foam. When the foam disappears, add the Bailey’s. Store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to eat the pie.
- Place the pie in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours. Slice, plate, top it off, and serve.
1. “Pi Day.” Pi Day. Accessed 16 Mar. 2014. Available at http://www.piday.org/.
2. “St. Patrick.” Catholic Online. Accessed Web. 15 Mar. 2014. Available at http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=89.
3. “Product and Company Information.” Bailey’s. Accessed 6 Mar. 2014. Available at http://www.the-baileys-lounge.baileys.com/en-us/product_company_information.html.
4. “Boozy Apple Pie.” Scienceandfood. Accessed 16 Mar. 2014. Available at http://scienceandfooducla.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/boozy-apple-pie/.
5. “Baking and Baking Science.” The Bakery Network. Accessed 16 Mar. 2014. Accessed http://www.thebakerynetwork.com/baking-science.
Categories: Holiday Helpings