In case you haven't noticed from my past blog entries, I'm a "YUGE" pie fan. I may be known for my cakes, but I have an equally outsized yen for pies. And there's no better excuse to indulge in my craving than some random date whose numerical representation happens to coincide with a mathematical constant that is a homonym for "pie."

For this Pi Day, I'm sharing my favorite pie crust recipe from my cookbook, Pie Love. It is a vanilla pie crust that uses real vanilla beans. To get the seeds out of the vanilla bean, flatten the bean with the side of a paring knife. Slice it open lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with the back of the knife. You can then reserve the pod to flavor milk, sugar, or - my favorite - brandy. 

Vanilla Bean Pie Crust

From Pie Love (2013)

1/2 vanilla bean
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp superfine granulated sugar
3/4 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) very cold, unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
5-6 tbsp ice water
1 egg (for egg wash)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean and combine with the flours, sugar, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor.
  3. Mix dry ingredients for 30 seconds.
  4. Stop the processor and add the butter all at once.
  5. Pulse in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs; pulse in the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together and rides on top of the S blade.
  6. Turn the dough out onto lightly floured parchment; remove one third of it and wrap it in plastic film to keep it from drying out. If you're not making a double-crust pie, hold it in the fridge or freezer for another use.
  7. Form the remaining dough into a disk, place a second piece of parchment on top, and roll it into a large round approximately 12 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick.
  8. Gently fit the dough into a 9- to 10-inch pie pen, fold the excess to form the edge, and crimp. Chill the crust for 15 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, if you are making a double-crust pie, roll out the reserved dough between two sheets of parchment to a round approximately 10 inches across. Set it aside, keeping it between the parchment sheets to prevent it from drying out.
  9. Brush the bottom crust edges with egg wash.
  10. Dock the crust and weight it with a circle of parchment paper cut to size and a disposable pie pan resting gently above the crust to prevent it from puffing up while toasting. If your pie filling will be baked, blind bake the crust for 10 minutes. If you'll be using the crust for a custard pie where baking isn't required, blind bake for 12 to 15 minutes, checking often after 10 minutes.
  11. Set the blind-baked crust aside to cool while you prepare the filling of your choice. Top the pie as desired and bake as directed in your recipe.