Happy Pi Day! We put an historical Pennsylvania Dutch twist on the mathematical celebration of 3/14 by eating shoofly pie and sharing a recipe for apple Schnitz pie, two the dishes in As American as Shoofly Pie: The Foodlore and Fakelore of Pennsylvania Dutch Cuisine by food historian William Woys Weaver.
Shoofly Pie (Melassich Riwwelboi)
A shoofly pie, shown below in detail, graces the front cover of As American as Shoofly Pie next to other more or less authentic Pennsylvania Dutch items. But make no mistake, our Pi Day shoofly is not just a "Dutchified" (uffgedeitscht) show treat for the tourists.
Unlike many contemporary shoofly pies, Weaver's version is eggless. The frugal recipe is, as Weaver writes, "a by-product of the baking-powder revolution that took hold of Pennsylvania Dutch cookery during the 1870s." Indeed, even today the ingredients for this pie are common to most pantries and refrigerators. The pie, which is more of a breakfast cake, first came to national attention at the 1876 United States Centennial. And here's a slice of Melassich Riwwelboi on the Press break room table, served with a cup of coffee as Weaver recommends.
Apple Schnitz Pie (Ebbelschnitz Boi)
What is Schnitz? Schnitz refers to dried apple slices, the key ingredient in our free Pi Day recipe.
Yield: one 9- to 10-inch (23 to 25cm) pie
Pastry for one 9- to 10-inch (23 to 25cm) pie
3 cups (750ml) boiling water or cider
8 ounces (250g) tart apple Schnitz (pie Schnitz)
2 tablespoons (15g) potato starch
2 tablespoons (25g) brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
2 cups (500ml) sour cream
1/2 cup (125g) sugar
1 tablespoon (15g) unsalted butter
Pour boiling water over the Schnitz. Cover and let stand 4 to 6 hours or overnight until the Schnitz are soft. Drain and chop into lima bean-size pieces, then place them in a large work bowl. Combine the potato starch, brown sugar, cinnamon, and allspice, working the mixture with a fork to create fine crumbs. Take out 1 tablespoon of crumb mixture and set aside. Line a 9- to 10-inch pie dish with short pastry. Dust the Schnitz with the brown sugar mixture and then arrange the fruit in the pie shell, pressing down with a spoon so that the Schnitz fit together closely. Mix the sour cream and sugar and spread this evenly over the fruit. Combine the reserved tablespoon of brown sugar mixture with the butter and work this to a crumb texture. Scatter the crumbs over the top of the pie. Bake in an oven preheated to 350°F (175°C) for 40 to 50 minutes. Serve at room temperature.
Weaver credits Elma Landis Harnish (1899-1945) of New Danville, PA for this version of apple Schnitz pie.
Enjoy the rest of your Pi Day.