The Case for Squared Pie

Want a perfect bite of crust? Your dessert may require some shape-shifting.

Whether your pie of choice contains fruit or nuts or mousse—whether it's sweet or savory, lattice-topped or crumble-covered—one thing unites the treat that you could convincingly argue is the world's best dessert: Pie is, regardless of everything else, round.

To Dan Pashman, the author of the book Eat More Better: How To Make Every Bite More Delicious and the host of the podcast The Sporkful, that default roundness is short-sighted. Pashman would like you to think outside the (circular) box. He would like you to take your pie ... and square it.

Why? Because crust. As Pashman explains in Eat More Better, the best bite of pie is to be had at the point where the vertical-side-crust meets the bottom-outer-crust. Because of their thickness, and because of their positioning within the construct of the pie itself, those pieces are, he claims, "ideally suited to absorb flavor from the fillings while maintaining toothsinkability."

Illustration by Alex Eben Meyer courtesy of Simon & Schuster (via Slate)

This is true! While every bite of pie is a delicious bite of pie, the bottom-outer-corner—filling and crust, combined on a fork—is the most delicious. It is the Platonic form of the forkful of pie.

So why not, then, maximize the number of bites that can be had from a single pie? The simple way to do that, Pashman points out, is to change the baking vessel for the pie. Keeping all other ingredients constant, you can substitute a square baking dish for a traditional pie pan, thus maximizing the dessert's corner-making capability. If the circumference of a pie pan is π * D, and if the standard pie pan is 9 inches in diameter, that means you have, with a typical pie, about 28 inches worth of ideal-crust space.

Compare that, however, to a standard, 9-inch—square—baking dish, which offers 36 inches in perimeter. So much more crust-meeting-filling real estate to be had!

As Pashman explains, you can cut your square pie tic-tac-toe-style, resulting in a middle piece for any non-crust-lovers out there ... or you can cut it in the radial style you would use to cut a round pie. Once you explore new shapes, the possibilities are, if not endless, endlessly delicious.