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President Obama Eats His Pie Crust First

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Mar 13, 2017

This week's episode of The Sporkful podcast is up! Listen through the player or iTunes/Podcasts app. (And please subscribe!)

Pi Day always sneaks up on us at The Sporkful, but this year we're prepared!

In this week's Pi Day Spectacular, we talk to mathematician Dr. Eugenia Cheng (below) about pie and pi. (Pi Day is March 14, as in 3/14, as in 3.14, as in the number pi -- get it? On this special day it's customary to celebrate pi by eating pie.)

"I used to be a Pi Day skeptic," she admits, because she's from the UK, where dates are written the other way around. "But what’s the harm of taking a day to eat some pie and have some fun with math?"

Eugenia

When Eugenia met us for pie, she showed us a mathematical method of making pie last forever. (Check out Eugenia's book, How To Bake Pi, for more about how mathematics can enhance our baking and eating!)

Later in the episode, we talk with former White House pastry chef Bill Yosses, who President Obama nicknamed "The Crustmaster". Bill reveals his crust secrets, and the very particular way President Obama eats his pie.

Plus, pie evangelist Evan Kleiman, host of KCRW's Good Food, debates the true definition of pie and tells one listener what pie to make to win her family's Thanksgiving pie baking competition. Here's that recipe:

Simple Sweet Potato Pie
Note: What we’re calling a sweet potato is often labeled a yam in super markets, orange inside and purple-brown outside.

For the Crust:
½ box Gingersnap Cookies (approx. 227 grams)
1 tsp ground ginger
6 tablespoons melted butter

  • Put the cookies into a plastic bag with a zip close. When you close the bag try to keep as much air out as you can. Smash the cookies with a heavy can or a rolling pin until they are crumbs. You can also pulverize the cookies in a food processor or blender.
  • Pour the crumbs into a bowl. Add ground ginger and butter and mix up. Pat the crumb mixture into a pie pan. Refrigerate while you make the filling. You do not need to precook the crust.

For the Filling:
1 1/2 lb raw peeled sweet potatoes or 1 pound cooked sweet potatoes
½ cup unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon size pieces
½ - ¾ cup dark maple syrup, according to taste
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 ½ cup whole milk or half-half
Whipped Cream for serving

  • Preheat oven to 400º. Scrub the sweet potatoes. Make an “x” in the top with a paring knife to prevent it from exploding in the oven. Bake the potato on aluminum foil lined small cookie sheet or shallow roasting pan for approximately 45 minutes or until very soft. Remove from oven and let cool. Turn oven down to 350º.
  • While the potato is roasting brown the butter. Heat the butter in a pan over high heat so that it melts and begins to brown. Remove it from the heat and set it aside.
  • Once the sweet potato is cool enough to handle peel off the skin, allowing the soft flesh to fall into a bowl. Add the maple syrup and whisk together to a soft puree. Add the pinch of salt and brown butter into the sweet potatoes and whisk slowly until blended. Taste and adjust salt for seasoning and syrup for sweetness to your taste. Add the eggs and slowly whisk to mix. Add the milk and whisk again until blended. If you want the filling super smooth and use have an immersion blender go ahead and use it or blend the filling in a blender.
  • Pour the sweet potato mixture into the cookie crumb crust. Bake in a preheated 350º oven for 40 to 50 minutes or until filling is set except for a half-dollar size circle in the middle when you gently move the pan. The filling may puff up. It will fall once cooled.
  • Serve with whipped cream to great acclaim.

This week's episode of The Sporkful podcast is up! Listen through the player or iTunes/Podcasts app. (And please subscribe!)

Connect with me on TwitterInstagram and Facebook!

Interstitial music in this episode by Black Label Music:

- "Summer Of Our Lives" by Stephen Clinton Sullivan

- "Feel Real Good" by William Van De Crommert

- "New Old" by JT Bates

Photos: FlickrCC/Evan Shelhamer; FlickrCC/TEDxVienna

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