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The Whole Dish blog: Observe Pi Day the British way

Today marks a mathematics-themed observation of Albert Einstein’s birthday. But what would a celebration be without pie?

Pi Day has connected the calendar, mathematical constant 3.14 and delicious filled pastries for nearly 35 years. Founded by Larry Shaw, an employee of San Francisco’s Exploratorium, the event arguably has piqued more students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics alongside culinary arts.

Amid surveys of students’ fondness for math and understanding of pi, academic institutions and educational organizations can’t help but incorporate favorite pie flavors. Among 900 American students surveyed by Brainly, the largest online homework help community, chocolate (22.7%) was the top pie flavor, closely followed by apple (22.1%). Trailing in the polls are lemon meringue, blueberry and cherry. Surveys also reported 18.6% of respondents had no favorite pie flavor.

Chocolate certainly would earn high marks in my household, but I have to believe my 8-year-old son would express more enthusiasm for pie prepared in the British tradition — chock full of meats and other savory bits. While we love potpies, a true British pie is another creature entirely: Packed to the edges with proteins in a sturdy, lard-laced pastry case, it’s typically served in pubs across Britain with mashed potatoes and mushy peas.

Minus the peas, my son would choose this dense, rich dish any day over dessert. Featured on the “Great British Baking Show,” it calls for baking in a springform pan.

Tribune News Service photo

Pork Pie

Pastry:

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup bread flour

1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

5 tablespoons lard (or substitute vegetable shortening)

1 egg

1 teaspoon cream or milk

Filling:

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 ounces dried apricots, thinly sliced

1/2 pound fresh chorizo sausage, casings removed

1/2 pound fresh bratwurst sausage, casings removed

1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion

To make pastry, whisk together in a large bowl both types of the flour and the salt. Drop in the butter and rub to crumbs. Stir the lard into 1/3 cup boiling water until melted; drizzle over flour and stir with a wooden spoon until dough comes together. (If dry, add a little more hot water.) Shape into 2 discs, 1 with two-thirds of dough, 1 with remainder. Wrap and chill.

For filling, season the chicken with the salt, thyme, zest and pepper. Stir in the apricots. In a separate bowl, crumble together both types of the sausage; mix in the onions.

Butter an 8-inch springform pan. Roll out larger pastry disc to a thin 14-inch circle and fit into pan. Scatter in half of sausage mixture. Scrape in all chicken mixture. Finish with remaining sausage. Roll out smaller portion of dough and trim to an 8 1/2-inch circle. Fit on this lid. Trim and crimp edges. Snip in a vent.

Whisk together the egg and cream. Brush top of pie with egg wash. Set pan on a baking sheet. Bake at 375 F, brushing top once or twice with egg wash, until browned, for 60 to 70 minutes. Allow to cool. Slice into wedges. Enjoy warm or room temperature.

Makes 1 deep 8-inch pie that serves 8.

Recipe adapted by the Chicago Tribune from the “Great British Baking Show.”