Suggested Ages: 9+
This month, we honor a number that’s as special as it is tasty: pi! Pi (π) is a mathematical constant that represents the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Because π is often shortened as 3.14, many people celebrate this important number on March 14—or 3/14—by eating circular foods like pizza, donuts, and of course, pie.
An occasion this auspicious calls for a design challenge that’s delicious! Create your own pie dough using a straight-from-Chefology recipe, then load it up with a filling you research and design yourself.
This is no ordinary DIY for kids project: It’s a step toward becoming an innovator.
Every Galileo Design-It-Yourself challenge teaches the same techniques that professional designers, engineers and artists use in their work. With skills like these, we believe you can change the world.
All innovators need these→ keep an eye out!
KNOWLEDGE: Facts, skills or context to inform your project
MINDSET: The right frame of mind to innovate
PROCESS: Steps to guide you along the path to your goal
Equipment You'll Need
- Cutting board
- Butter knife
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- Medium mixing bowl
- Mixing spoon
- Rolling pin
- Pie pan
Pie Crust Ingredients
Makes two 9-inch pie crusts
- 5 ⅓ tablespoons (or 5 Tbs + 1 tsp) vegetable shortening
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 ½ cups flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3-5 tablespoons cold milk
Build your innovator’s knowledge by checking out some filling inspiration. Check out these lists from the Food Network, Allrecipes, or Taste of Home or grab a cookbook to generate ideas before getting into the design details.
It’s easy to pick a filling you already love, or maybe even one that you’ve already made. Challenge yourself to be courageous by stretching yourself to try a brand new filling or visionary by combining elements of two (or more!) recipes to create something new.
- Consider your filling. Are you slicing fruit, chopping nuts, or maybe even whipping up a custard? Prepare and set aside the ingredients you’ll use.
- With a butter knife, cut the vegetable shortening and butter into pea-sized pieces.
- Put the butter, shortening, flour and salt into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Combine ingredients by squishing them together with clean hands. Fully incorporate the flour into the fat by squishing and mixing until little to no powdered flour remains. The dough will still be crumbly.
- One tablespoon at a time, add the cold milk to the mixture. Squish and mix the dough after each addition to incorporate completely. Add additional tablespoons of milk until the dough comes together in a smooth ball. It should be neither crumbly nor sticky.
- Place the dough ball in a deli container and place it in the refrigerator to chill.
- Check your filling inspiration recipes for recommended temperatures and set your oven to preheat.
- While the dough is chilling, start your fillings! Use the prepared ingredients you set aside in step 1 to get cracking on your delicious vision.
- Divide the chilled dough into two equal portions. Return one portion to the refrigerator. Form the other portion into a ball. Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough out to ⅛” thickness on a floured surface. Transfer the rolled dough to the pie pan and softly smooth into the edges. Repeat the rolling out process with the second ball of dough. Add filling to the pie pan, then lay the top crust over the filled pie.
- Fold the edge of the top crust over the bottom crust, leaving a lip of folded dough. Use your fingers to crimp the folded dough lip to seal the pie.
- Use a knife to cut slits into the top pie crust. This will allow steam to escape as the pie bakes.
- Check your filling inspiration recipes for recommended bake times. Put the pie in the preheated oven and bake for the recommended time, or until fillings are set and the edges of the crust are golden brown. Alow the pie to cool before serving.
Finally, we’ve come to an essential part of the Innovator’s Process: share! Serve up slices of your custom creation and celebrate the tastiest mathematical constant there is.
Other Opportunities to Innovate
- Try your hand at a lattice top crust.
- Experiment with fresh vs. frozen ingredients.
- Flavor your crust by adding spices to the dough.
- Go savory!
Jamie Solomon is the Program Director of Summer Camps at The Tech Interactive. When she’s not swinging a rubber chicken or dreaming up innovative new classes for her campers, she loves to bake, volunteer, and adventure outside.