Of course I observed Pi Day (3/14, at least in North America) by eating pie. But this year I also got to perform product testing in order to provide a valuable public service. Because that’s the kind of guy I am.
A couple of weeks ago, a fellow by the name of Ken Weikel wrote to say he’d read my old article on Interesting Thing of the Day about pie funnels. Had I, by any chance, heard of his product Pie in a Bottle? And if not, would I like him to send me some to try out? I hadn’t; I would.
A few days thereafter I received a box of goodies—apparently the entire Weikel Foods product line—including two jars of Pie in a Bottle. That’s right: Pie in a Bottle isn’t in a bottle, it’s in a jar. The jars came in a box. I received a box of jars of Pie in a Bottle. Just to be clear.
Pie in a Bottle is a mixture of corn syrup, sugars, honey, and flavorings. It’s supposed to be a substitute for all the tedious measuring and mixing that would otherwise be required to make pie filling. You mix a jar of Pie in a Bottle with two eggs, pour that into a pie crust with a cup and a half of your favorite fillings (dried fruit, nuts, coconut, chocolate chips, whatever), and bake for 35 minutes at 350°F. Let it cool, and voilà: pie.
Since I was quite busy today, I lamed out and bought a couple of frozen pie crusts instead of making my own. (I know. Lame.) I decided on a mixture of dark chocolate chips, dried cherries, and shredded coconut. And I have to say, it did indeed take only about 4 minutes to combine all those ingredients and get the pie into the oven. Can’t complain there.
At 35 minutes, the pie still looked pretty soupy, so we left it in another 10. Even after cooling for a half hour, it was mighty runny. It took an hour in the freezer before it could be cut without oozing all over the place. (So, take that “cool before serving” instruction seriously.)
The pie was delicious. It really was. I can’t necessarily attribute the deliciousness specifically to the Pie in a Bottle, and to be sure, if I were making my own pie from scratch I would never, ever use corn syrup as an ingredient.
BUT. And this is, I think, the whole point: Had it not been for the Pie in a Bottle, I would not have eaten pie on Pi Day. It would have been too much work given my other commitments. So, whatever else you might say about Pie in a Bottle, it does certainly accomplish the fundamental task of bringing pies into existence rapidly.
It must be said that this trick doesn’t work universally. Pie in a Bottle won’t help you with a lemon meringue, pumpkin, or cherry pie, for example. I think the optimal usage case is pecan pie, or other nut pies. Still, for pie in a hurry, it’s hard to beat.