I love surprise presents. Last week, on the eve of pie potluck party, a friend dropped off the most amazing gift at my door. You guessed it from the photo above. It’s a pie plate in the shape of the letter pi! For those who don’t know, I graduated from mathematics program in undergrad. The love of math is in my blood. When I opened the package, my inner mathie shouted hurray, wiggled a little happy dance, and smiled with glee. The practical baker in me was not as enthusiastic. How do I use this oddly-shaped pan wisely to turn out spectacular result?
A double-crusted fruit pie was quickly ruled out. Even under the best circumstances, baking the filling to set properly is already a challenge. A cookie crumb crust would be easy to fill but unduly difficult to pry out of this curvy pan. Delicate filling would be asking for trouble. A pecan pie would be perfect in every way except pecans are very expensive and I would rather not splurge on an experiment. Then it came to me. I would use pre-rolled store bought pie dough to get a sense of how best to line the pan. I would blind bake the crust. Finally, the crispy crust would be filled with a recipe I longed to try: Karen’s Peanut Butter Pie from Melissa Clark’s In The Kitchen With A Good Appetite.
The simple recipe is available online here. The filling is nothing more complicated than mixing cream cheese, natural peanut butter, sugar, and vanilla with whipped cream to lighten the texture. It’s sturdy and sets beautifully when chilled. But first, let me walk you through the trickier part of lining the pi pie plate.
There is no need to grease the pan since pie dough already contains enough fat to release easily once baked. It took two rounds of pre-rolled pie dough to line this rather large pan. I used one for each “leg” of the pi shape. I kept the trimmed extra dough in large pieces and used them to patch the top of the letter where the dough round couldn’t reach. I had only a small piece left over so do position the dough wisely. I pinched a decorative edge all around the pan just because. The whole thing went into the fridge to rest for about an hour before baking.
The Pillsbury dough I used contains direction for blind baking. At 450F, it seemed a bit high but I followed through anyway. I lined the chilled dough with aluminum foil and filled the pan with dried rice to weigh down the dough. It baked for about 12 minutes before I carefully emptied it of rice and foil. The pie dough completed baking after another 10 minutes when the whole thing took on a golden hue. I was happy that it did not shrink much.
Like I mentioned above, the filling was easy to make. While I waited for the baked crust to cool completely, I made a batch of candied peanuts for garnish. I used David Lebovitz’s recipe so many times and the result is always spectacular. I made an extra large batch since I have plans for another cooking project.
I chilled the peanut butter mousse-filled pie overnight in the fridge. When I took it out in the morning, the filling was set firm enough to slice. Before serving, I sprinkled plenty of shaved dark chocolate and candied peanuts on top for a stunning presentation. As if the cutesy pi pie is not already a conversation piece!
Happy Pi Day! And thank you my generous friend for this cool gift!
Not enough pies? Here are a whole bunch of pies I made previously. Take your pick for Pi Day!
Sweet Pies & Tarts
- Wild Blueberry Pie
- Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie
- Nutella Banoffee Cream Pie
- Chocolate Coconut Cream Pie
- Oatmeal Chocolate Pie
- Harvest Apple Pie with Cranberries and Rum Raisins
- Caramel Pumpkin Pie
- Sour Cherry Lattice Pie
- Ginger Kuri Squash Pie
- Yuzu Meringue Pie
- Mixed Berries Streusel Pie
- Blood Orange Almond Tart
- Malted Crisp Tart
- Blackberry & Coconut Macaroon Tart
- Black Sesame Yuzu Pear Tart
Savoury Pies & Pie-Like Things
- Ham & Cheese Quiche
- Chicken B’stilla
- Lentil, Mushroom & Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie
- Savoury Ricotta Farro Tart
- Tomato & Corn Pie
- Onion goat Cheese Tart
- Spinach & Pancetta Quiche
- Butternut Squash Galette with Kale & Gruyere
- Apple Leek Goat Cheese Quiche