OPINION | FRONT BURNER: Lemon Buttermilk Pie in celebration of Pi Day

Lemon Buttermilk Pie (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)
Lemon Buttermilk Pie (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

One of my favorite fake holidays is just around the corner: Pi Day — not to be confused with another favorite, National Pie Day, observed Jan. 23 — on March 14.

The day celebrates Pi, the mathematical constant that states that the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter (or, as Math Is Fun puts it, "all the way around a circle divided by all the way across it) will always be 3.14. It is often celebrated with Pi reciting competitions (3.14 are just the first three digits of this unending number) and, my favorite, eating pie.

Pi Day was started in 1988 by physicist Larry Shaw at San Francisco's Exploratorium, but I don't think most of us were aware of it until more recently. At least I wasn't. In 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives supported the designation of Pi Day, making it an official day. Other Pi and Pi-adjacent celebrations include July 22 or 22/7, an approximation of Pi and Tau Day on June 28, Tau=6.28 ... Tau is more mathematically complex than I can explain. If you want to know more, tauday.com is a good place to start.

If a number pun isn't enough reason to celebrate, the day is also Albert Einstein's birthday. Other famous Pi Day babies include Simone Biles, Michael Caine, Quincy Jones, Billy Crystal, Stephen Curry and Grace Park.

There's no right or wrong kind of pie for celebrating Pi Day. If you've given up sweets for Lent, celebrate with a pizza or a savory pot pie. But if you're still on the sugar train, this lemon-scented buttermilk pie is a delicious option.

I used refrigerated pie crust to make this pie because I had one in the fridge that needed to be used, but feel free to make your own if you have time.

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Lemon Buttermilk Pie

  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Pinch salt
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons, divided use
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 unbaked pie shell
  • Whipped cream, for serving, optional

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, a pinch of salt and the lemon zest.

In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, lemon juice, melted butter and vanilla. Whisk buttermilk mixture into sugar mixture. Pour into an unbaked pie shell.

Bake for 10 minutes; reduce oven to 350 degrees and continue baking until golden and filling is just jiggly in the center, about 45 minutes more. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Chill until ready to serve.

Serve topped with whipped cream, if desired.

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