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Pie Filling vs. Crust; Interest vs. Inflation

When baking a fruit pie there are two conflicting parts: the fruit filling and the outer crust.

The fruit filling takes a long time to bake – typically an hour. While tempting to take out early, you want to wait until it starts to bubble (boil). That’s when you know your thickener is active and your pie will not end up as soup.

Meanwhile, you have your beautiful crust. I love making fun pie crusts because it is a simple way to make a cool dessert. You can write people’s names in it, make pretty lattices, cut out 1,000 stars, and so on (see below for some ideas). However, you have to be very careful with your pie crust because it may start to burn before your filling starts to cook. Therefore, you often have to cover your crust mid-way through baking it.

The key point is that you have two variables that you have to watch out for. If you only focus on one – the outer crust, for example – your filling will be very runny. If you just focus on the filling and don’t cover your crust then you’ll be left with a burned pie. And THAT would be really sad.

When saving for something in the future (for example, retirement), there are two things you need to consider: 1) the interest you are earning, or expect to earn, and 2) the expected inflation rate. Just like your pie filling and crust, they are typically working against each other.

What is interest? Interest is the return you make on money that you save – whether in a savings account or in the stock market. The cool thing about interest is that you can earn interest on your interest. So, if you put money in an account today, you’ll earn interest on it over the next month. You’ll also earn interest on the interest that you earned. (See more on compounding interest.)

What is inflation? In very basic terms, it relates to how a $1 bill won’t buy as much in the future as it does today. Prices rise over time. I’m sure you’ve heard people say “back in my day you could get a candy bar for a nickel.” That certainly seems impossible today. There is very little you can buy with a nickel. You can buy almost nothing for a penny. (Funny podcast on this.)

Why is this so important?

Well, when saving for something, you need to consider both. If you are thinking about saving for retirement, you might think that some $XXX amount of money per year will be good. But, have you considered that the $XXX amount of money won’t buy as much as it does today? So, when calculating how much you save, you need to consider both your expected interest rate and the expected inflation rate. Your actual return is the interest rate minus the inflation rate.

So, just like a pie, you need to monitor both the interest rate and the inflation rate when calculating how much money you will need!

Here are some fun pies I've made:

Orange Juice Apple Pie

The top middle pie (with all the stars) is an orange juice apple pie. I'll probably use the recipe again for a lesson on orange juice concentrate, but I want to go ahead and share it with you now. It is delicious.


3 cups (360 grams) all-purpose flour

3 Tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup shortening (or all butter, or all shortening)

1/2 cup ice cold water


6 to 8 Granny Smith Apples (or a tart apple)

2 Tbsp. butter, melted

3/4 cup (150grams) sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

3 Tbsp. cornstarch

1/2 small can of orange juice concentrate (frozen)

Preheat oven to 425.

Peel and slice apples. Mix in melted butter, sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon. Leave in a bowl.

Prepare crust: Mix flour, sugar, and salt together. Cut in butter and/or shortening. You want to leave large clumps of butter/shortening. I like to first cut big clumps of butter, and then use my hands to smash up the bigger pieces. Once combined, add the ice cold water and combine. Separate dough into two separate balls. Place both in the refrigerator for about 1/2 an hour.

After 1/2 an hour, remove one ball of pie dough and roll out for the bottom crust. Place into the pie shell and then put back into the refrigerator. Roll out the second pie crust and shape however you want -- stars, American Flag, words, ribbon, etc. Have fun with it!!!

Before adding filling to your pie, drain the apple juice you have created (it's delicious to drink). Then add filling to crust. Finally, dot 1/2 a can of frozen juice concentrate on top of apples. Finally, cover crust with your top layer of dough.

Bake the pie for 10 minutes at 425. Then lower the oven to 350 degrees (leaving the pie in the oven) and bake for about 50 more minutes. After around 20-30 minutes you should check to make sure your crust is not burning. If it is getting brown, cover with some foil. If the edges are getting brown, then just cover the outside and leave the middle uncovered.

You'll know your filling is done when it starts to boil.

Let cool. Then enjoy!!! Pies are great to make ahead of time for a party because it is actually best for them to sit for awhile so that the filling thickens up. You can always slightly re-heat your slices if you want them warm.


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