by Amélia Ávila (’24) | March 29, 2020
Every March, a special day comes around: a day for mathophiles to flex on all of us with their elite puns, and a day for bakers to, well, bake. Pi Day, an unofficial holiday that honors the number pi, takes place every March 14 in honor of pi’s first digits: 3.14. Since doing extra math worksheets isn’t for me, I decided to use Pi Day as an excuse to bake, you guessed it, pie.
But first, some facts about the two. Who knew pi and pie could be so similar? Besides the obvious fact that the word pi sounds just like the dessert, pi and pie have many similarities. For starters, pi and pie were both rooted in Ancient Greece. Although William Jones of Britain officially came up with the pi symbol as we know it today, the Greek mathematician Archimedes developed the more accurate version of the Babylonian concept, deducing that pi was indeed 3.14. Pastry, the crust used to hold a pie together, was first introduced in Ancient Greece as well. Additionally, pi is used to compute the circumference and the area of a circle, the shape in which pies are usually baked. Maybe Ancient Greeks loved pie so much they named an important symbol after it. (What? It’s a fun theory.)
After hearing these fun facts, I decided to bake a pie. Believe it or not, before March 14, 2019, I’d never baked one before. And to be honest, I don’t think I’d ever had a pie that wasn’t from either Costco or Safeway. But on Pi Day, I was determined to finally attempt to bake the traditional American dessert as a gift for my math teacher.
The first obstacle was the pie itself. Conveniently, my math teacher could not eat dessert that March. But I was very determined to bake this pie! Panicked, I searched for savory pie recipes. After searching for hours, I stumbled upon a recipe for “Leek and cheese quiche.” The recipe looked longer than pi itself, but it seemed like the only option. Since I didn’t have leeks at home, I substituted onions. So, off I went to sautée onions in the middle of the night. After I finished making the filling, my sister carved a tiny pi symbol to put on top. The next day, the savory pie turned out to be a hit, and my math teacher enjoyed it!
While doing research this Pi Day, I found many interesting pi(e) ideas. One blogger made an apple pie with a pi symbol and the number 3.14159 on top of neatly plaited crust. For beginners, I found a “deconstructed” pi(e) composed of store-bought crust and packaged chocolate filling. Overall, whether math is your best friend or your worst enemy, baking pies is a fun (and delicious) way to celebrate Pi Day.