Pi Day!

Let it be said, before explaining the lore of Pi Day, that we’re planning to have pie, not cake, at my wedding in August. I adore pie in its many forms. I like eating it and I like baking it.

Every year, I get to celebrate pie at least twice. First on March 14, ideally just before 2 o’clock. That’d be 3/14 1:59. The second celebration, favored more by European pie fanciers (fans of tortes and so forth), is July 22, or 22/7. In the states, or at least at NCSE’s offices, we celebrate that as Pi Approximation Day, while 3/14 is pie day, a day hallowed by tradition and transcendental mathematics as a time to celebrate delicious delicious pastries.

NCSE’s office celebration began on Friday, when we had to scramble to assemble an apple pie from the excellent Bakesale Betty and a great icebox lemon pie. We’ll continue the celebration tomorrow, hopefully with pizza and with at least one of the pies I baked today.


The baking started at a farmers market, where I scored some lemons and mandarins for seasoning, and apples, pears, and rhubarb for filling. Rhubarb pie is the king of pies, with rhubarb-strawberry the queen. Apple pie is the president, a leader but never an aristocrat.

The recipes were all based on my dogeared copy of The Joy of Cooking, tweaked to maximize deliciousness.

First, a rhubarb pie, overflowing with tart yum:

Rhubarb is an acquired taste, but once you’ve got it, nothing measures up. A bit of mandarin zest mellows the rhubarb just enough. I’ve used this recipe many times, and it never fails.

Then comes an experiment, a tarte tatin. It’s made like an upside-down pineapple cake, but with apples instead of pineapple and pie crust instead of cake on the bottom. In this case, it was a mix of Fuji and Pink Lady apples, a combination I’ve enjoyed before. Looking forward to tasting it:

Finally, an experiment with two variables. I’ve made circular apple-pear pies before, but never a square pear pie (this with bosc and D’Anjou pears). Making a square pie was worrisome, but mathematicians assure me that pie are squared, so here goes:
In honor of the day, I modified my usual pattern of steam vents for this pie:

How did you celebrate Pi Day?

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