You might have heard that March 14 is Pi Day — in honor of the math constant ?.
Perhaps you recall from your middle school days that Pi (?) equals 3.14, hence, March 14 is the day set aside to celebrate Pi Day, or in the case of this column — to celebrate pies.
Pies comes in so many varieties.
There’s apple, pumpkin, sweet potato, blueberry, kumquat, cherry, chocolate, and that’s just to name a few.
If you delve into the history of pie, you’ll realize that these flavors are considered modern.
The word “pie” is thought to derive from the magpie bird, known for collecting random items in its nest.
Early pie makers would put anything into their pies — beginning with the early Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, and up through the Medieval period in Europe.
In the days before pies were considered primarily as a sweet finish to a meal, pies were typically filled with meat and served as the main course.
But, these were not the kind of meat pies that are popular today, such as Shepherd’s pie or chicken pot pie. Rather, they were filled with rabbit, crow or mussels.
There was no delicious flaky crust, either.
To get to the meat filling, you had to crack open the top. The hard shell wasn’t meant to be consumed, nor was the bottom crust. They were simply intended to contain the filling.
In fact, the crust wasn’t called the crust until after the American Revolution. Before that, it was called a “coffyn,” referring to a basket or container.
If the pie wasn’t filled with meat, then likely it was filled with cheese or honey.
So, how did pie become dessert?
Going as far back as the 1300s, there were tarts, which were similar to the pies we know today.
But, these tarts didn’t have any sugar.
In those days, sugar was a rare commodity. It was a sign of wealth and was out of reach for most people.
By the 1700s, though, the British set up sugar colonies in the Caribbean, making sugar more accessible.
At that time, however, pies continued to be meat or cheese dishes.
The idea of making tarts sweet didn’t catch on until the tarts arrived in the United States.
While it was technically a sweetened tart, the colonists started calling it pie — to deepen the divide between the colonists and the British.
With the abundance of sugar also came the idea to make the coffyn into an edible crust.
So, there’s a short history of pies, to help you celebrate Pi Day.
You’ll probably notice on March 14 that many restaurants, food retailers, and bakeries offer special deals on pie, for Pi Day.
Perhaps you’ll mark the occasion by making a pie of your own.
After all — like many things in life — math is more fun when paired with dessert.
By Shari Bresin
Shari Bresin is the Family & Consumer Science Agent for the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Cooperative Extension Pasco County.
Recipe for blueberry pie
Since blueberries will begin ripening soon, up until the end of May, here’s a recipe for blueberry pie. The recipe comes from the Natasha’s Kitchen website: https://natashaskitchen.com/blueberry-pie-recipe/.
Tools: You will want a rolling pin, a 9-inch pie pan, and either a food processor or pastry blender.
Ingredients for crust:
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus a little extra for dusting
½ Tbsp granulated sugar
½ tsp sea salt
2 sticks of cold butter, diced into ¼-inch pieces
6 Tbsp to 7 Tbsp of ice water
Directions for crust:
Put flour, sugar and salt in food processor and pulse a few times.
Add butter and pulse again until you see coarse crumbs/pea-sized shapes.
Mixture should be dry and powdery.
Add water and pulse until you see moist clumps or small balls.
To see if you have enough water, press a piece of dough between your (clean) fingers and make sure the dough sticks.
If it doesn’t, add more water, a teaspoon at a time.
Transfer dough to a work surface and divide in half.
Flatten with rolling pin, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for one hour prior to making filling.
Ingredients for filling:
6 cups blueberries, rinsed and drained
1 tsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 ½ Tbsp all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp water
Directions for filling:
Roll one half of dough into 13-inch circle and place in 9-inch pie pan.
Roll other half into 12-inch circle and use a pizza cutter to make 10 one-inch strips for lattice top.
Combine blueberries, zest, lemon juice, flour, sugar and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl, and then transfer to dough in pie pan, with berries slightly higher in center.
Create a lattice crust on top of filling using the 10 one-inch strips of dough, and pinch the edges to seal (if you’re not familiar with making this crisscross style of top crust, there’s a tutorial on NatashasKitchen.com that shows this: https://natashaskitchen.com/how-to-make-a-lattice-pie-crust/).
Beat egg and water, and brush over lattice crust and edges.
Bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes to 60 minutes.
Published March 4, 2020
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