Introduction: Pi Ja(R) Squared
First Prize in the
Serious Eats Pi Day Pie Contest
Happy Pi day instructables friends. As a high school math teacher this is a holiday for us at work and a cause for celebration. To make these individual pies I start with a time tested recipe and in my opinion the only pie flavor worth eating, good old fashion apple pie with cinnamon. To put a spin on the traditional pie I shrunk it down to individual serving sizes to maximize the amount of crust on each and to make sure everybody gets their own 2(pi) radians worth of delicious pie. An added benefit is that the jars are easily popped in the microwave for warm pie or frozen for individual portions throughout the week (why celebrate pi day when you can have it all week).
Step 1: Make the Dough (crust)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
8 tbsp cold unsalted butter (1 stick)
4 to 5 tbsp ice water
- MIx the first 3 ingredients in a bowl. Dice up the butter and cut into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender, fork, or your fingers. You want the dough to have pea shaped chunks of butter once incorporated.
- Add in the water a tablespoon at a time until it comes together and forms a ball. (you may or may not use the 5th tablespoon). Make sure not to over mix or warm the dough too much as it will become tough and lose its flakiness.
- Shape the dough into a disk and let chill in the refrigerator for at least a half hour. (this dough can stay refrigerated for a day or so if you are not going to use it immediately)
Step 2: The Filling
The filling for this pie is completely up to you. I chose to make homemade apple pie filling because it is both simple and a crowd pleaser (plus apples are easy to find year round). You can simplify this recipe by using pre-made or canned pie filling if you'd like. Here is how I make homemade filling.
1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar or sugar substitute
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
8 cups cubed granny smith apples (8 medium)
1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice
Make sure to dice up the apples small enough so that they fit in the small jars. The apples will cook down in the oven so you want to really make sure to pack them tight. Mix all of the above ingredients and set aside.
Step 3: Preparing Your Dough and Choosing a Vessel
- Roll out the dough until about 1/8 of an inch thick. It really doesn't matter the shape you roll it in as you will be cutting out circles and strips to line the jars with.
- Using the lid to the jar as a cutting tool, punch out twice as many circles as you plan on making pies (one for the bottom and one for the top.
- Measure out the circumference of the circle (or calculate it using 2(pi)r) to estimate the piece of dough needed to line the sides of the cylindrical jar.
- Press the dough circle into the bottom and the strip along the side to form the inside crust for the jar. At this point you may now load your filling of choice into the jar. Leave some room at the top for the pie to raise so that the lid can fit on once it is baked.
Step 4: Continue Assembling the Pies
At this point you may want to preheat the oven to 375-400 degrees fahrenheit so that it is ready when you finish assembly.
5. Now it is time to take the top circle pieces and carve a pi symbol directly in the center for the pie to vent while cooking. I do not have a pi cutout so I did this by hand using a paring knife. It is really easy and quicker than you think, take your time and be patient with the cutting.
6. Top the pies and press the edges to seal. Once assembled beat an egg yolk and brush the tops of the pies for a glossy finish. Sprinkle each with sugar for extra crisp, sweetness, and shine.
7. Place the jars on a baking sheet and bake 40-50 minutes. Leave the pies uncovered for the first 15 minutes until the tops are golden brown. Once the tops have set cover the pies loosely with foil for the remainder of the baking time.
8. Set the pies to cool before handling and decorating.
Step 5: Finishing Up the Pi(e)s
Print out the wrapper that I created to tape around the jar.
Cut out the wrappers into strips (I used a paper cutter to be exact) and tape each around the lid that comes with the jar. To show off our pie crusts I ditched the metal insert and replaced it with clear plastic wrap. Make sure the pies are completely cooled before wrapping them in plastic. Wrap the top of the jar and then screw on the lid. Cut off any excess plastic wrap.
Now all you have left to do is enjoy the little pies and share your joy for both pie and math with those around you.
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