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Anne Braly, former food editor of the Times Free Press, makes Peanut Butter Pie in a springform pan. One recipe makes enough filling to fill a springform pan and pie plate.

When 18th-century mathematics teacher William Jones applied Greek letter Pi as the symbol for 3.14, he never could have foreseen it symbolizing a day to celebrate baking.

Pi is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter — approximately equal to 3.14159, or 3.14 for short. Being an irrational number, its decimal neither ends nor settles into a repeating pattern. You know the old joke: Don't talk to Pi — he'll go on forever.

Because the mathematical value of Pi begins 3.14, March 14 is considered International Pi Day. From there, it's a natural leap to its homophone "pie," making March 14 a day celebrated by mathematicians and pie lovers alike.

What’s America’s Favorite Pie?

Martha Stewart Living partnered with ThinkGeek.com in 2015 for a survey of pastry fans across the country to discover the favorite pie of every state. The answer couldn’t be more all-American: apple. It was the top answer in 25 of the 50 states.

In Tennessee, apple and cherry pie tied for No. 1. Apple was the top choice in Georgia, but chocolate cream pie was the winner in Alabama.

— Martha Stewart Living

An impromptu poll of Facebook users asking their favorite pies received answers all over the map. But a common thread among them was memories with which those pies were associated.

"My mother's Chocolate Silk Pie and her Boston Cream Pie. The best ever," Judy King Williams declared.

"Lemon Meringue Pie is always my fave," said Kelley Nave. "It's the only pie my grandmother ever made. She used the recipe from the condensed milk can. I don't know where she got her meringue recipe, but I use the one from 'The Joy of Cooking.' And she made her crust from scratch just using butter and crushed graham crackers."

Joy Jorges Dobosh said a Date Nut Pie recipe was the perfect date-night dessert while dating the guy she would eventually marry.

"I made it for my future husband one evening, and he loved it. I don't know if the pie was the reason he proposed, but I do know it was delicious," she joked.

Rosemary Anderson Palmer, "Not Just Paper and Paint" blogger, said Cocoa Ritz Pie is a standard at holidays and has the time-saving benefit of being great to make ahead of time and freeze.

"My favorite is fudge pie because it's good and it's easy. I've had this recipe for over 40 years," said Rebecca Campbell of a recipe she clipped from the newspaper.

Gail Dooley gave a nod to Chocolate Chess Pie, a recipe given to her by a friend in Ooltewah.

"I lived in Northwest Iowa for over 20 years and enjoyed introducing my Iowa friends to my favorite Southern recipes. They had never heard of chess pie. This chocolate version was a favorite and oft-requested dessert, especially for birthdays," she said.

Cathy Robbs Baker replied that Sour Cream Lemon Pie is her favorite because "it is light and refreshing on a warm day. It's easy to make with ingredients I always have on hand."

"Well, 'pie R square,' so one of our faves is an easy peach cobbler pie recipe made in a square pan," quipped Susie Fitch.

Some favorites fell into the savory category. For example, Pamper Garner Crangle's tomato pie.

"Fresh tomatoes, onions, fresh basil topped with a cheese mixture ... a family favorite at our house," she said.

Former Times Free Press food editor Anne Braly picked Peanut Butter Pie and sent in her recipe. It and others follow.

Contact Susan Pierce at spierce@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6284.

 

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Anne Braly, former food editor of the Times Free Press, makes Peanut Butter Pie in a springform pan. One recipe makes enough filling to fill a springform pan and pie plate.

Peanut Butter Pie

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese

2 cups smooth peanut butter

1 cup confectioners sugar

2 cans sweetened condensed milk

24 ounces whipped topping

1 graham cracker pie crust (see note below)

12 ounces whipped topping, optional

8 tablespoons chocolate topping (such as Hershey's), optional

Combine cream cheese, peanut butter and confectioners sugar. Beat until creamy. Add sweetened condensed milk, and beat until creamy. Fold in 24 ounces whipped topping by hand or using mixer on low speed. Pour into prepared pie crust, and freeze until set.

To finish: Top with 12 ounces whipped topping and drizzle chocolate sauce over top, if desired.

Note: This makes a lot of filling, so you may need to divide it between two crusts. I usually make my own graham cracker crust, making enough to fit a springform pan and a regular pie dish, then dividing the filling between the two.

— Anne Braly

 

Miss Anita Patton's Fudge Pie

2 squares (1 ounce each) unsweetened Baker's chocolate

1 stick margarine

1 cup sugar

2 beaten eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla

1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional

Melt chocolate and margarine over low heat.

Mix sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add to chocolate mixture. Cook on moderate heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Stir in nuts, if using. Pour into uncooked pastry shell, and bake 20 minutes in a 350-degree oven.

— Rebecca Campbell

 

Sour Cream Lemon Pie

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 cup butter

1 tablespoon grated lemon rind

1/4 cup lemon juice

3 egg yolks, unbeaten

1 cup milk

1 cup sour cream

1 baked refrigerator pie crust

In saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, butter, lemon rind, lemon juice and egg yolks; mix well, Blend in milk, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thick.

Cool; add to sour cream a little at a time, stirring until smooth. Spoon into cooled shell, and chill at least two hours before serving.

— Cathy Robbs Baker

 

No Crust Required Cocoa Ritz Pie

Pie ingredients:

3 egg whites, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 cup pecans, finely chopped

23 Ritz crackers, finely crushed

1 teaspoon vanilla

Chocolate whipped cream topping:

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons sugar

2-4 tablespoons instant cocoa

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in other ingredients.

Pour filling into a greased, 8-inch pie pan and bake 25-30 minutes at 325 degrees. The pie will just start to turn brown as it finishes baking.

Place on wire rack and cool completely before adding topping.

To make the topping, start whipping the cream until it just becomes frothy.

Add sugar and instant cocoa, and continue whipping until stiff peaks form. Spread over cool pie, and refrigerate immediately. May add toasted pecan pieces for garnish before serving,

Note: Egg whites can be brought to room temperature quickly if placed in a glass or metal bowl and set in another bowl of warm water for five to 10 minutes.

To freeze: After letting the pie cool completely, wrap it in a couple of layers of plastic wrap then in aluminum foil and freeze. Do not add the whipped topping before freezing. When ready to serve, let it thaw on a countertop, still wrapped, at room temperature for a couple of hours. Then add topping before serving.

— Rosemary Palmer

 

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Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen's Homemade Chicken Pot Pie is the third-most-popular on Cheddar's menu, according to Cheddar's publicist Jenni Izzo. Each pie contains a half-pound of chicken combined with scratch-made cream sauce and vegetables, baked into a light, flaky crust, served with a house salad. Cheddar's serves about 1.4 million pies to guests annually.

Chicken Potpie

1/3 cup butter

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup chopped onion

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 3/4 cups chicken broth

2/3 cup milk

2 1/2 to 3 cups cooked chicken, cut in pieces

1 (10-ounce) frozen peas and carrots

1 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box

In 2-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, onion, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is bubbly; remove from heat. Stir in broth and milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in chicken and peas and carrots; remove from heat.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Roll one pie crust into 13-inch square. Ease into ungreased, 9-inch (2-quart), glass baking dish. Pour chicken mixture into crust-lined dish.

Roll remaining pie crust into 11-inch square. Cut out designs with 1-inch cookie cutter. Place square over chicken mixture. Arrange cutouts on top crust. Turn edges of pie crust under; flute edge.

Bake about 35 minutes or until golden brown.

— Betty Crocker

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