Instructables

Pies Are Round? No, Pi(es) Are Squared!

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In honor of Pi day, I wanted to create a fun pi (and pie) centerpiece for sharing with a crowd. What you see before you are 101 mini pies adorned with pi to 100 decimal points, arranged in a giant square with circle in the middle and a pi symbol in the center. Circles, squares, and pi(e)s, oh my! The beauty of this project is that you can do it the hard way with homemade crust and filling (how I did it) or you can cut yourself some slack and use pre-made pie crust and pre-made filling or pudding and still get a great result. It’s easy to create a show stopping focal point for your Pi Day festivities that will be appreciated by math and pie lovers alike.

First choose your favorite pie crust dough. I used an all butter crust recipe that I found on the New York Times site. Of course if you prefer you can use your favorite refrigerated pie crust. A 8 or 9 inch single refrigerated crust or single crust recipe will make about 12 mini pies give or take. I was able to make all 101 pies with 8 single crusts with more than enough scraps leftover for the digits of pi as well.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Once your crust is chilled and ready, roll it out as you would roll out a regular 9 inch pie. You want the crust to be nice and thin. For ease of production I rolled out all of my crusts and wrapped them in plastic wrap refrigerating between rollings so that when I was done rolling out the dough I had a pile of eight thin crusts. Take one crust at a time and use a drinking tumbler or a 3.5 inch ramekin to cut out your mini crusts. Place a small piece of waxed paper between each mini crust so they don’t stick together. Again, for ease of preparation, I recommend cutting out all of your crusts first so you can concentrate on forming and filling the pies.  Refrigerate your mini crust piles as you cut the crusts. Every time I reached another 1 dozen mini crusts, I put the pile in the refrigerator so they wouldn’t get overly warm.

The mini pie form is very versatile, you just want to be sure that whatever you decide to fill your pies with isn't 1) too watery or "juicy" and 2) is mostly cooked. The pies only bake for about 15 minutes so you don't want to rely on that oven time to cook your filling for you. To make the pi in the circle in the square pattern you’ll need 41 pies for the outer square, 46 pies for the inner circle and 14 pies for the pi symbol in the center. For me that meant 41 strawberry/raspberry chai pies, 46 blueberry pies, and 14 caramelized mango pies (that worked out to roughly 6 cups of the strawberry/raspberry filling as well as about 6 cups of the blueberry fillings and about 2 cups of the mango filling which will leave you plenty leftover filling for pulling on ice cream or spreading on toast).

Again you can use any sort of pie filling you'd like.  Here are the instructions for the simple fillings I made. The measurements for the fruit are in ounces because I used frozen fruit and it turned out just fine.

Caramelized Mango Filling
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tablespoon vanilla
16 oz mango puree
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons corn starch

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium high heat. Once butter has melted and begins to bubble, add vanilla and brown sugar. Stir to mix. Stir in mango puree and incorporate well. Cook for five minutes or until mango puree is lightly caramelized, stirring occasionally.  Simmer until mixture is reduced by about a third, stirring occasionally. Dissolve cornstarch in two tablespoons of lime juice. Whisk cornstarch solution into mango mixture. Continue stirring until mixture has thickened. Remove from heat and chill in the refrigerator until cooled.

Strawberry/Raspberry Chai Filling
24 oz diced strawberries
24 oz raspberries
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 packet of chai tea

In a medium saucepan add strawberries, raspberries, sugar and vanilla. Mix well and heat over medium stirring occasionally for several minutes until the fruit mixture reduces slightly. Dissolve cornstarch in two tablespoons of lemon juice. Whisk cornstarch solution into strawberry and raspberry mixture. Add chai tea. Continue stirring until mixture has thickened. Remove from heat and chill in the refrigerator until cooled.

Blueberry Filling
48 oz blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons corn starch

In a medium saucepan add blueberries, sugar and vanilla. Mix well and heat over medium stirring occasionally for several minutes until the blueberry mixture reduces slightly. Dissolve cornstarch in two tablespoons of lemon juice. Whisk cornstarch solution into blueberry mixture. Continue stirring until mixture has thickened. Remove from heat and chill in the refrigerator until cooled.

When all of your crusts are laid out you can begin pie construction. Press the crusts into the cups of a non stick muffin tin/cupcake pan. Add filling, about 1 to 2 tablespoons, or until the crusts are about 2/3s full. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the crusts are golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool completely before removing from pan.

Cut out your digits of pi, I recommend using commercially available number cookie cutters. For your quick reference I've included a handy "pi chart," if you will, with the digits in place and a tally of the digits you'll need.  Don't forget to cut out a little circle for a decimal point.  Brush pi digits and decimal point with an egg wash and bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool completely then arrange, admire, and enjoy!

Happy Pi Day!




patsheldon1 month ago

wow what amazing work you must have put in. good job!

haaheo2 years ago
A year later and it's still pretty awesome! Impressive you made so many!
splazem3 years ago
Nice job. Have fun with the iPad!
brooklynbrownie (author)  splazem3 years ago
Thanks so much!
butterbeans3 years ago
congrats!
brooklynbrownie (author)  butterbeans3 years ago
You, too! I'm so impressed by your steak pie. My brother would go crazy for that. Maybe for his 25th b-day.
These look amazing! its a great idea and must have taken a long time to make all those tarts! You deserved first place=)
have fun with the iPad =D
Aw, thank you so much! It was an undertaking, but a lot of fun, too! :)
Congratulations...I definitely want to try your strawberry chai filling!
Thanks! It's delicious! Sweet, yet tart. And the leftovers were sooo good on toast, sort of like a whole fruit jam.
stevequag3 years ago
Congrats, if I was going to lose to anybody I was hoping it was this creation. Your idea was great, i wish i had come up with it first. You should post pictures of what the engraving looks like on the new ipad you receive. I accepted defeat and went out and bought an ipad this morning :) Enoy
brooklynbrownie (author)  stevequag3 years ago
Thanks! I really liked your pirate pie. Funny, tasty and well executed! :)
carol teach3 years ago
yummmmm!
OatmealGuy3 years ago
Apples, peaches and pumpkin pieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
jtyne3 years ago
Would you bake a pie for my upcoming food-and-drink pub-trivia fund raiser? ;)
canida3 years ago
This is fabulous! I love it.
brooklynbrownie (author)  canida3 years ago
Thanks very much! :-)
Tomcat943 years ago
When you read the title, and ignore the stuff in parenthesis, it reads as: "Pi Are Squared", which happens to read the same as "Pi(r)^2", which is the area formula for a circle.

So the title says pies not are round, and yet, it is the formula for the area of a circle...

Is the title a clever pun, or am I thinking over-analytically?...
brooklynbrownie (author)  Tomcat943 years ago
I was hoping some circular pun action on the title. :-)
Biggsy3 years ago
I am amused welldone

High Five for you
hi.jpg
brooklynbrownie (author)  Biggsy3 years ago
Aw, thanks!
erigeeka3 years ago
This looks amazing and the pies also sound very tasty. I really want to try the Strawberry & Raspberry Chai Pie! Good job!
brooklynbrownie (author)  erigeeka3 years ago
Thanks so much, the strawberry/raspberry chai filling is addictive. It's sweet but not too sweet and a bit tart. I've been spreading the leftover filling on toast.
scoochmaroo3 years ago
Neat! Doubles as a color-blindness test! (not really, I know.) Looks great.
brooklynbrownie (author)  scoochmaroo3 years ago
Thanks so much! I was really happy with the way that it came together.
pie popper3 years ago
Woah!!! These are awesome, did they get eaten in order? xD
brooklynbrownie (author)  pie popper3 years ago
Heehee! I wish. That would be kind of awesome. It was more of a pi feeding frenzy.
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