Celebrate birthdays, holidays and Pi Day as only a true math geek would, by baking a pie in a Pi Pie Pan
For the Love of Pie and Pi
Ever since I learned the formula to find the circumference of a circle, I have longed for the day to create a Pi shaped pie. After talking with many Pi enthusiasts, it seems that they have had that same desire. The goal of this project is to help geeky cooks around the world celebrate March 14th in style.
Now some people have indeed created Pi shaped silicone baking molds, but this product has fallen short. For starters, you can't even bake a pie in a silicone mold, so what's the point? Also, if you do make a cake, when you flip it over and someone takes a slice, you are left with this amoeba looking form that makes no sense to the poor guy at the back of the cake line.
We made this first run of Pi Pie Pans to solve this problem, giving the ability to make a perfectly baked Pi shaped pie to the world for the very first time. Furthermore, because you serve the pie from the tin, even the last guy to get a slice can still can get the joke and realize that you are the geekiest person in the office. It turns out that the Pi Pie Pans bake great, and not just for pies. Brownies and cornbread are awesome because of all the edges that you get.
Designing Pi Pie Pans, 2010 to 2012
In 2010 I had left my company to try to start a software business. While this ultimately never was able to take flight, I found myself incredibly creative at this time, working on different iPhone apps, blogging as well as coming up with different ideas for products. Being a food blogger and a bit of a math geek, I thought it would be spectacular to create a Pi shaped pie pan when my preliminary search yielded no product in the market. I dusted off my Autodesk Inventor skills and drew up some preliminary CAD drawings to show to friends.
The feedback I had received was positive - people just couldn't believe that there was not a Pi shaped pie pan. Unfortunately, the project would stall for the next couple of years as I had to re-emerge into the workforce (man cannot live on hotdogs and potatoes alone) and just didn't have the time, or know-how, to manufacture an item.
This all changed in the spring of 2012. One of my friends from middle school, Philip Butler, remembered the concept for the Pi Pie Pans. Philip believed in the idea and worked with a classmate and friend of his at MIT, Chris Possinger, to get the pan designed up to the correct specs needed to manufacture it.
We went through several molds in the summer of 2012 and ultimately got our first prototype in the fall of 2012.
After that time we worked with the manufacturer and received our first small run of finalized product in the first half of 2013.
Not Pie-in-the-Sky, Our Team Can Get It Done
Our team is led by an individual with a strong order fulfillment experience. Philip runs a distribution business that ships products all over the world. He has a keen understanding in the shipping challenges and has set up a system to rapidly pick, pack and ship products to the end consumers, perfecting this in his business for the past three years.
Chris has a background in mechanical engineering, material sciences and manufacturing. He has been the interface with the manufacturer overseas to ensure that the mold and fabrication of our pans fulfilled our vision. Through his efforts, we were able to produce an manufacturing die to shape the pans in the summer of 2012, our first prototypes in the fall of 2012 and our initial small run in the first half of 2013. We did a small run of pans and have full confidence that our manufacturer can handle additional subsequent requests on a longer run. If, however, this project was to explode (which we hope it does), we would be interested in exploring further options to decrease lead times in order to get our product out to our bakers.
In addition to having a background in Industrial Engineering, logistics and marketing, I love to eat pie.
With the Pi Pie Pans team, experience and current manufacturing provider, we foresee no problem with satisfying our backers needs for the Pi shaped pie pan.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
We made an initial run of several hundred Pi Pie Pans, which took a little bit of time. One risk is that our current supplier couldn't meet the demand if this project absolutely exploded (which, of course, we hope it does!). To mitigate this risk, several members of the team are currently evaluating other manufacturers who can handle a high demand while minimizing the lead time.
Yes, the cost of shipping is included in the $15 reward for US residents. Sorry for not making that clear in the original post! (People outside of the US have to tack on the $20 cost of shipping.)
The pans are anodized 3003 alloy aluminum, which is the one of the most common aluminum alloy for cookware. The pans are anodized for a stronger surface, but they aren't non-stick. Pie crusts (both pastry and crumb type) generally have enough fat in them that sticking isn't a problem, but it wouldn't hurt to grease the pan if you're making something cake-y. My partner Chris has used the pans probably 10 times and hasn't ever had anything stick; this has been true for me baking a pie, brownies and multiple batches of cornbread.
What size pan is the Pi Pan equivalent in volume? Can you at least approximate it for recipe comparison?
The volume is equivalent to a 9" pie pan and designed so you can use a standard filling recipe. However, this pan has a larger outside surface area than a round pan; for a crumb style crust (Graham cracker, Oreo, etc.) you need to increase the recipe by about 25%.
For a pastry crust you can increase the recipe if you want, or just roll the dough a bit thinner. When using store bought pie dough my partner Chris just rolled it to an oval shape 3-4 inches wider in one direction (he wanted to say 10x13" or so but wasn't positive).