Introduction: Ancient Egyptian Honey, Nut & Fruit Pi(e)

About: Entrepreneur, Home Baker, Historian & Geek...

This Instructable will give you the origins of both Pie & Pi in ancient Egypt and using some "artistic license" bring them back together at the end through a story of one chefs Pie. The first 4 steps tell the story and the final step will give the modern "recipe" so that you can bake this delicious ancient Honey, Nut & Fruit pie yourself! I hope you enjoy.


According to historians the first "pie" appeared around 9500 BC, in Egypt when the use of stone tools shaped by polishing or grinding became common. The domestication of plants, animals and the establishment of permanent villages gave rise to the practice of crafts such as pottery and weaving which gave all the essential pieces needed to create a Pie as we now know it. Early pies were in the form of galettes wrapping honey as a treat inside a cover of ground oats, wheat, rye or barley. These galettes evolved over the years into the modern form of sweet pastry and evidence of which can be found on the tomb walls of the Pharaoh Ramesses II, who ruled from 1304 to 1237 BC, located in the Valley of the Kings. (See pictures of the tomb carvings above)

During the same time that pie was evolving the Egyptians building their pyramids and designing them so that the perimeter divided by the height was their "Magic" number. This number is 2π! The Great Pyramid at Giza, constructed c.2589–2566 BC, was built with a perimeter of 1760 cubits and a height of 280 cubits giving the ratio 1760/280 ≈ 2π. The same proportions were used earlier at the Pyramid of Meidum c.2613-2589 BC and later in the pyramids of Abusir c.2453-2422. Egyptologists consider this to have been the result of deliberate design proportion. Verner wrote, "We can conclude that although the ancient Egyptians could not precisely define the value of π, in practice they used it". Petrie, author of Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh concluded: "these relations of areas and of circular ratio are so systematic that we should grant that they were in the builders design".

As a tribute to the "First Peoples of Pi(e)" I have recreated the original Pie recipe from the tomb of Ramesses II. The Hieroglyphics not only detail the recipe but also tribute the chef who created this earliest of pies. The chef was so highly regarded that a statue of his likeness was buried along with Ramesses II so that the Pharaoh could enjoy his pies into the after life (see photo above).

According to the Hieroglyphics the chef was named Gordhamun and as a small boy was taken to Greece to study in the famed kitchens of "Helios". Upon his return to Egypt as a young man he was appointed head chef to Ramesses II. By all accounts the chef was a tyrant ruling over his kitchen staff with an iron fist and dismissing them for the smallest indiscretion. As the Royal Chef he was one of the few people in the kingdom to be able to use the Pharaohs name along with his own, so he was officially known as: Gordhamun Ramesses of Helios Kitchen.


Step 1: In the Beginning...

To make the Pharaohs pie:

Assemble the most talented cooks in the land.
Gather the coldest water from deep in the lushest oasis.
Bring the Salt harvested from the wildest ocean.
Extract the fat from the most pampered pig.
Process the fat into Lard as white as the peaks of a mountain.
Grind the finest wheat into soft flour.

(Note: Whole Wheat flour was used to be true to the ancient nature of this pie as the Egyptians did not have the technology at the time to sift their flour. -  Reference:

Step 2: Its All About the Dough...

With your sharpest bladed instruments cut the lard into the salted flour until the particles are the size of Queen Nefertiti's pearls.
Sprinkle the cold water until the flour is moist like the dessert after a gentle spring rain.
Shape your dough into the shape of the Royal Pyramid keeping in mid the magic ratio of perimeter to height of 2 pi.
Dust your stone surface with flour like the floors of the temple after a sand storm.
Separate the dough in two like the twins Nephthys & Isis.
Roll the dough into a thin round, the thickness of the hide of the finest soft leather.
Cover the vessel with the dough like the blanket would cover a bed.

Step 3: It's Whats Inside That Counts...

Pie filling:

Fruit: Dates, Figs & Raisins
Nuts: Pistachios & Walnuts
Flavor: Honey, Cinnamon, & Cloves

Grind the nuts, shaved cinnamon & cloves to a fine consistency like the small pebbles in the desert .
Slice the figs and place in the pie like a great tiled plaza.
Chop the dates and scatter over the figs like the palms after a great storm.
Cover with a layer of raisins and a layer of the nut mixture like the shifting sands of the desert.
Spread the honey over the pie like the Nile covers the land during the spring floods.
Repeat the layers to fill the Pie and cover with the second sheet of dough to seal the pie like a Pharaohs sarcophagus.
Add the Eye of Horus, the ancient Egyptian symbol of protection, royal power and good health.

Step 4: The Ovens of Ra

Bake the pie in a hot oven until the juices bubble like a small spring and the crust is the color of the desert sands.
Slice the pie as it is written in the ancient texts bisecting the Eye of Horus to gain his power and wisdom.

As you see once the Eye of Horus is bisected you get a familiar symbol... pi!

I hope you enjoyed this "History" lesson and will vote for me in the "Pi Day Pie Challenge" 2012.

Step 5: Modern Measures...

Pastry Recipe for 9-inch two-crust pie:

2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons chilled shortening, cut into pieces
2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour, plus extra for rolling
1 teaspoon salt
4 to 6 tablespoons ice water

In a bowl cut vegetable shortening into flour and salt until particles are the size of small peas. Sprinkle water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry dough almost cleans side of bowl. The ingredients should barely bind together. Divide pastry into halves and shape into two rounds. On a floured surface, form the pastry into a ball. Roll pastry 2 inches larger than an inverted pie plate. Roll the crust as evenly as you can. Ease pastry into pie plate, pressing firmly against bottom and sides of pie plate.

The Filling:

1.5 cups Dates
1 cup Figs
2 cups Raisins
1 cup Pistachios
1 cup Walnuts
1.5 cups Honey
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Cloves

Coarsely grind the nuts & spices.
Slice the Figs & julienne the Dates.

Layer all ingredients in the pie shell starting with half of the figs, then dates, raisins, nut mixtures, honey then repeat.
Cover with the top pie shell and seal edges. Cut steam slits around the pie to allow the heat to escape.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes at 425 degrees.
Turn down to 325 and bake for 30 minutes.


Pi Day Pie Challenge

Finalist in the
Pi Day Pie Challenge