Happy π Day! If you are a sweet and gentle and sensitive person, with an obsessive nature and a deep fascination for numbers and a complete infatuation with the calculation of π, today is the day for you! And what better way to celebrate the day than by baking a transcendent(al) pie? Before you decide on a recipe, though, it wouldn't be irrational to think long and hard about the dough you'll use. Maybe you're most interested in a pie dough that's super fast and forgiving, or maybe you want a buttery, flaky crust that doesn't require a food processor. (See here for a little deeper discussion of the merits of Stella's recipe versus Kenji's.) Going gluten-free? We've got you covered there, too.
Beginning pie-makers should check out our advice on the best pie pans and how to blind-bake a crust (and even more experienced bakers may want to consult Kenji's foray into pie myth-busting). If you've got the basic knowledge you need and are just looking for an Instagram-worthy way to dress up your creation, we've got step-by-step guides for making a pretty lattice top, or an extra-fancy herringbone pattern. Finally, if you're carting your pie over to a friend's house for a Pi Day celebration (or, you know, any old special occasion), don't forget to pick up a carton of food-grade Epsom salt: When placed inside your carrying container, it'll help keep your crust from getting soggy in transit.
Now, on to the recipes. Not three, not 14, but 15 recipes for both savory and sweet pies, including chocolate cream and classic cherry, pie variations like cobbler and crisp, and more hot pies for all your Pi Day needs.
Double-Chocolate Cream Pi
This is the chocolate pie to end all chocolate pie, using a combination of Dutch cocoa and dark chocolate to create a filling that's rich and intense. Though the pie does involve a number of steps, the filling's not all that complicated to make, and it won't weep on you. A lovely layer of swirled Swiss meringue on top gets a nice toasty color from the oven, while remaining fluffy on the inside.
Silky Sweet Potato Pi
No need for canned condensed milk here; instead, you'll make your own version as you simmer sweet potatoes in a mixture of milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. The process results in a sweet potato filling that's fresher- and lighter-tasting, with an almost vegetal flavor thanks to a generous dose of nutmeg. Don't forget to save the vanilla seeds to make a topping of Brown Sugar Whipped Cream, an elegant touch when dolloped onto the pie.
Late-Summer Mixed-Fruit Pi
A variety of fruits, both sweet and tart, form a colorful filling for this summery pie—but don't worry, you can totally use frozen fruit in the wintertime. This is a great opportunity for you fancy bakers out there who want to try out a lattice design to top your pie, but if you don't feel up for it, you can certainly just use a solid sheet of dough, cut to span the πr2 of the base. Do read the label on the tapioca starch you buy: Only starch made from real cassava will gel properly.
Freeform Peach Pi (Galette)
A galette, or freeform pie, is the perfect vehicle for fruit like peaches, which won't survive the long bake at high heat that's needed for a traditional pie made in a pie dish. It's also perfect for when you don't want to bother with careful shaping and fluting of that crust, since all you've got to do is pile the filling in the middle and fold the dough over, section by section. You can substitute other stone fruit for the peaches, or swap out some of it for berries.
The Best Blueberry Pi
Nothing beats a classic like blueberry pie, and no blueberry pie beats this version. Using our handy ratio of fruit and sugar, you'll be rewarded with a filling that cooks up nice and thick—no more fears of getting blueberry soup—with a complexity of blueberry flavor from a mix of both cultivated and wild berries.
Gooey Apple Pi
An improvement on another old standard. Here, the apple slices are cooked to 160°F (71°C), which helps them hold their shape even as they turn tender during baking. Cornstarch and sugar thicken the filling into a nice, gooey syrup, while a bit of lemon zest brightens up the flavor.
Classic Biscuit-Topped Peach Cobbler
All right, I can hear you saying it: "This isn't π!" Not quite, perhaps, but it has the crucial elements, and it's a beautiful dessert to boot. Think of it as 1/π, an inverted π, if you will: a sweet, bright interior of peach slices in a rich syrup, with a moist and tender biscuit blanket.
This may be one of the prettiest pies on the list, but it's also one of the tastiest. Pitted fresh cherries (you can use frozen ones, too) are lightly bound in a clear syrup that doesn't detract from the fruit's naturally sweet and tart flavors. With the right ratio of fruit to sugar, you won't have to sacrifice a crisp crust to get a nicely thickened filling. Hold on to the cherry pits to make a subtly cherry-flavored whipped cream to serve alongside.
Extra-Smooth Pumpkin Pi
Who says pumpkin pie is only for Thanksgiving? It might even be extra appealing out of season, when you're not suffering from the pumpkin-spice fatigue of fall. Blending cream cheese with canned fresh pumpkin purée gives the filling a smoother, silkier consistency and keeps it less wet than typical versions, reducing your risk of a soggy crust.
Rustic Apple-Cranberry Pi
Here's another galette for those who just want a delicious pie, without all the fussy presentation. Sweet apples and tangy cranberries are a familiar fall combination, and they get a boost in flavor from a sprinkling of cinnamon; added richness from butter helps to balance out their tartness.
The Best Apple Crisp
On this one, you got me: It isn't even close to being π. But it's so good, we couldn't leave it off the list—and it's easy. The crisp topping, chock-full of toasty pecans and scented with nutmeg, comes together quickly in a food processor, and the fruit base is nothing more than chopped apples tossed with cornstarch, sugar, salt, and a little whiskey.
Gluten-Free Blueberry Cheesecake Pi With Lavender Streusel
This might be the dessert equivalent of Euler's identity, since it combines cheesecake and π in a way that is, quite simply, mathematically beautiful. It's more complicated than many of the other recipes here, but the result is a juicy filling of sweet-tart blueberries, covered in a light cheesecake topping and a delicately floral-scented streusel.
The Ultimate Snickers Pi
What kind of pie roundup would this be without an ice cream pie? And this is ice cream pie to the nth degree, with caramelized condensed-milk ice cream in a chocolate crust, topped off with a chocolate-caramel sauce and a chocolate–peanut butter ganache.
Mexican Tamale Pi (Tamal de Cazuela)
As good as tamales are, making them at home is a headache. Much easier is packing the flavors of a tamale into pie form. This tamal de cazuela features a filling made with chicken stock, black beans, and lard, flavored with smoky ancho chilies. Alternatively, consider this meatier version, filled with slow-cooked skirt steak, or this vegetarian pie.
Classic, Savory Shepherd's Pi (With Beef and/or Lamb)
There may be no pie, whether savory or sweet, that's as satisfying as a shepherd's pie—buttery mashed potatoes with browned peaks, crowning a mix of vegetables and minced meat. I love lamb (and it is called shepherd's pie for a reason), but this recipe will work just as well with less-traditional ground beef, or a mixture of the two.