Pi DAY/PIE DAY
For math and science enthusiasts, Saturday is all about Pi. For one who wields a rolling pin, it’s all about Pie. Boasting a less than stellar academic math career, it seems both amusing and cruel that I spend a good fraction of my workday performing math skills. This translates into grabbing a Sharpee marker and scribbling down numbers on wayward scraps of parchment paper and over the top of my coffee cup. It’s interesting to note that as a group, the majority of bakers assembled around the bench suffer the same math deficiency. It becomes particularly interesting when we ask each other for help solving simple math problems. “The eggs look smaller this week. How many ounces should there have been in that recipe?” or “Does this look like two pounds of apple slices to you?” I like to think this has something to do with right brain/left brain tendencies. Math is even more difficult before the morning caffeine kicks in, which is why in lieu of working out a word problem, sometimes it’s easier to spend a few moments washing out the Hobart mixing bowl.
For many years, I worked in a bakery tucked behind a Bucks County farm owned and operated by an engineer. Roger’s vernacular was peppered with grams and ounces, I spoke in teaspoons and cups. Under his tutelage, it wasn’t long before I could casually remark, “Oh, an ounce? You mean 28.3 grams?” In my eight year stint at the farm, I witnessed the engineering of baking. Pie dough was mixed in 60 quart mixers, shells rolled and crimped by a pie press. Hundreds, yes hundreds! of pies baked in a wall of deck ovens. Despite my new respect for math, I decided it was best not to tell Roger about my sordid high school geometry past. Suffice to say that an extra credit project allowed me to pass the class. It was based on concentric circles that were baked in three 9” cake pans, frosted in chocolate and yielded a checkerboard cake. And yes, part of the project involved pie charts.
In anticipation of 3.1415 Day, I will spend Friday the 13th toiling over bakery math problems and pie shells.. On Saturday, I’m Boston-bound, hoping to squeeze in a bit of Pies-About-Towning and Pie Socializing. Happy Pie Day to all!
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