Happy 3.14 Day!
I’ve written about this before, but pie has never been my favorite thing to eat or make (I’m #teamcake, please don’t hate me). But I always make sure to bake one in honor of Pi Day, which I can’t help celebrate since I am both a low-key nerd and a failed math major (true story: I wanted to major in math in college but it was too hard so I settled for an economics degree instead ????).
This year’s pie is from my new favorite pie book, The New Pie. The New Pie was written by Chris and Paul, a married pair of CDC scientists who enter pie baking competitions in their spare time (you know, when they’re not busy protecting us from infectious diseases). They’ve won many pie competitions throughout the country, which is no surprise since their book is filled with unique and original pie recipes like King Fluffernutter Pie and Bubbling Butterbeer Pie. Along the way, they also taught me a bunch of awesome baking tricks that I plan to apply beyond pie — like, did you know you that you could turn whipped cream into ice cubes (like they did for their Thai Iced Tea Pie ????)?
Because I just finished developing and testing a last-minute pistachio muffin recipe for #weeknightbakingbook (which, OMG, has a freaking Amazon page but no cover, lol!), I decided to try their pistachio honey pie recipe to use up all my spare pistachio nuts. According to Chris and Paul, this pie recipe was inspired by Mediterranean and Middle Eastern baklava, which led them to top the pie with phyllo dough as opposed to more pie crust. I was 100% there for it — not only did I have to do less work (they recommend buying store-bought dough), the phyllo topping was both delicious AND gorgeous and the perfect compliment to the pistachio honey filling (which did indeed taste like baklava). Enjoy!
Some baker’s notes:
- Because this pie recipe has a lot of kinda involved steps, I broke the work down over a few days to make sure I wasn’t stuck in the kitchen for hours. I made the pie crust the first day, blind baked it the next, and made the filling and topping on the last day before baking the entire pie. You can speed up the entire process by making the pie crust and blind baking it on the same day; although I find that it holds it shape better if frozen overnight, Chris and Paul recommend just freezing it for an hour before baking.
- To make the topping, Chris and Paul use three store-bought phyllo sheets that you then cut into wedges. It’s great, but you’re left with a LOT of phyllo sheets after the recipe (each box comes with… a LOT). I ended up refreezing the leftovers. If you don’t want to bother, go ahead and skip the phyllo topping — the pie will look a little like pecan pie without it.
Pistachio Honey pie
- Special Equipment: a food processor
- pie weights
- a digital candy thermometer
For the Pie Crust
- 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons (6 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons (1.5 ounces) vegetable shortening
- 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) very cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons (1.5 ounces) very cold water
For the Pistachio Honey Filling
- 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/3 cup (4 ounces) honey
- 1/3 cup (4 ounces) light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 large eggs
- 1 3/4 cups (10 ounces) shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
For the Topping
- 3 sheets phyllo dough, thawed
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
Day 1 – Make the Pie Dough!
- Measure 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons (6 ounces) all-purpose flour, 1 1/4 teaspoons granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/8 teaspoon baking powder directly into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the ingredients once or twice to combine them.
- Scatter 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons (1.5 ounces) vegetable shortening across the top of the flour mixture in three or four roughly equal nuggets. Pulse three to four ties until the shortening seems to be evenly dispersed into the flour. If there are still large visible clumps, pulse one or two more times.
- Scatter 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) very cold unsalted butter pieces across the flour mixture, and pulse four or five times. At this point the flour should appear textured like coarse cornmeal, with small (1/4-inch) tidbits of butter flecked throughout. If not, pulse one or two more times.
- Combine 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar and 3 tablespoons (1.5 ounces) very cold water in a liquid measuring cup and drizzle all over the flour. Using 1-second pulses, process the mixture until it transforms from dry and powdery and just begins to form into a large clump of cohesive dough, five to eight pulses. Stop pulsing once most of the dough is clumped together. The dough may look like pebbly curds of cottage cheese and there may be unincorporated flour in the bowl. That is what you want at this point. If you process the dough until it forms one large ball of dough and starts thwacking around in the food processor bowl, it will be overworked and bake up tough.
- Transfer the dough and any remaining unincorporated flour to a smooth work surface. Gather all of the dough and press it into a 5- to 6-inch disc about 1 inch thick. Wrap the disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight.
Day 2 – Partially Blind-Bake the Crust!
- Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a circle that is 10-inches wide. Transfer the dough into the pie plate and crimp the edges as desired. Freeze the dough-lined pan for at least 20 minutes while preheating the oven to 350 (F).
- Lightly spray one side of an 18-inch piece of aluminum foil with cooking spray. Line the crust with the foil, sprayed side down. Fill the pan with pie weights, arranging them more towards the edges of the pie. Completely cover the edges of the crust with the foil.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the edge of the pie is a light golden brown. Lift out the pie weights using the corners of the foil. The goal is for the inside of the pie shell to be just beginning to brown. If the pie is too pale, return the crust to the oven without weights and continue to bake, checking every 2 minutes or until the bottom is just beginning to turn light golden brown in spots. The pie will bake longer after the filling is added, so it should not be completely browned at this point. Cool on a wire rack — the pie crust can be filled while warm or at room temperature. If storing overnight, cool completely to room temperature before storing at room temperature covered with a cake dome or a large bowl inverted upside down.
Day 3 – Make the Pistachio Honey Filling and Bake the Pie!
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 300 (F).
- Whisk together 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) melted unsalted butter, 1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt,1/3 cup (4 ounces) honey, 1/3 cup (4 ounces) light corn syrup, 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon in a medium, microwave-safe bowl. Whisk in 3 large eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Microwave the mixture at medium (50%) power, checking the temperature and stirring every minute or so until it gets to 130 (F). Alternately, you can also use a double boiler and heat the mixture until it reaches 130 (F).
- Fold 1 3/4 cups (10 ounces) shelled and coarsely chopped pistachios into the filling. Place a pie crust shield on the pie to protect the edges from drips and splashes and pour the mixture into the blind-baked crust.
- Next, make the topping. Place 1 sheet phyllo on the countertop and use a pastry brush to brush with half of the 1 1/2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon granulated sugar and cover with a second sheet of phyllo. Brush that sheet with the remaining butter and sprinkle with the remaining teaspoon of sugar. Place the third sheet of phyllo on top and gently press the dough all over to seal. Place a 9-inch circle (such as a cake pan, a plate, or a circle cut from cardboard) on top. Using a sharp knife or pizza wheel, trim away the excess phyllo from around the circle. Remove the cake pan and slice the circle into 8 even wedges (like a pie). Place the phyllo wedges slightly overlapping around the surface of the pie.
- Carefully transfer the filled pie to the oven and bake until the phyllo wedges have browned, crisped, puffed, and the filling is set, about 60 minutes. If the center still sloshes when the pie is moved, continue baking, checking every 5 minutes until the filling has puffed and the center wobbles slightly. Cool completely to room temperature on a wire rack before serving.