Monday, November 21, 2011

Sometimes You Have To Forgive a Pie

With Thanksgiving around the corner, I decided I'd better test some pie recipes.  I agreed to make one apple and one pumpkin this year.  Pumpkin is my personal favorite and I already have a non-vegan recipe that is to die for.  Since I'm not cooking for any vegans this year, I thought I'd go ahead and use the tried and true.  But, I had never made an apple pie until last night.
I stole the recipe from someone's Grandma Ople.  With the massive amount of positive reviews, it seemed to be a no-fail crowd pleaser.  As many before me, I edited the recipe by adding cinnamon and vanilla to the sugar mixture and omitting the water.  I also used earth balance in place of butter.  I used the crust recipe from my previous post, Lessons on Pie.


  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 8 Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored and sliced


  1. Melt butter in a sauce pan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add white sugar, brown sugar and water; bring to a boil. Reduce temperature, and simmer 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, place the bottom crust in your pan. Fill with apples, mounded slightly. Cover with a lattice work crust. Gently pour the sugar and butter liquid over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run off.
  3. Bake 15 minutes at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes.

My problem:  The crust!  After that marvelous day I spent baking pies with Jenn,  I was convinced I would always achieve a perfect crust on command.  I have no idea why it simply would not work for me last night.  It cracked as I rolled it out and kept sticking to the counter and breaking as I tried to roll it onto the pin.  It was an absolute nightmare.  All I could think was, thank god this is not thanksgiving morning.
I finally ended up piecing the whole thing together in the bottom of the pie pan by squishing it in with my fingers.  I heaped the apples (all 8 of 'em) into a big pile in the center of the pie.  The lattice on top would not, could not happen.  I tried using my fancy new ripple-edged dough cutter.  It just dragged along, tearing the dough and made more of a straight line than a ripple edge.  Then, the strips would just stick to the counter and break into pieces as I tried to lift them.  I finally got them all on top of the pie, but they wouldn't weave together.
Here is the result:

As you can see, the lattice isn't woven.  The crust is also kind of puffy looking.  Like something a three year old did with play-dough.  I also think the sugar mixture drizzled over top gives it a sloppy appearance.
The first thing my boyfriend said when he saw it was, "Isn't lattice supposed to be woven?"  Yes, thank you.
Here's what I think:
1.  Even had the crust been agreeable, it isn't attractive to pour stuff over it.  Next time, I would cook the apples with the butter/sugar mixture for a few minutes before placing them into the pie pan.  I would also add some cornstarch to the mix because the flour did not stop the liquid from taking over inside the pie.   Then, I would brush the upper crust with coconut oil and sprinkle with a dry sugar/cinnamon mixture.
2.  I need to practice making pie crust.
3.  Sometimes you have to forgive a pie.
Although we all want our pies to come out looking like these:

It just doesn't always turn out that way.  I remember going to my friend's farm when I was a little girl.  Her mother, Joan was always baking pies from fruit that grew on their land.  She would have us help her.  We were five little girls aged 2 to 9 covered in flour with rolling pins and cookie cutters in hand.  We made huge messes.  We had bellies full of raw dough.  We would pat the crust onto the pies with intense concentration and inexperienced little hands.  The pies would come out lumpy and bumpy; but, Joan always smiled approvingly and told us the pies were beautiful.  I'm beginning to realize that just as each apple grows with unique bumps and bruises, so does the pie that we make from it.
I have to admit, once I forgave my pie for being ugly, it tasted much better.

Don't record your pie, it has nothing to say.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Chapter 2: In which a red door is opened and a flour-sack baby is loved

Over the next several months, Emily and Kate continued their baking experiments, trying to create better recipes.  As they worked in the kitchen, they began to get big ideas.  "We could sell this at the farmer's market," mused Kate.  "Yeah," agreed Emily, "and we could probably get some stores or restaurants to sell it, too.  Then, maybe one day we could open a cafe!"

One night after staying late at Kate's, drinking coffee and eating chocolate lava cake, Emily went home to her Guilford Ave apartment and fell asleep.  While sleeping, she had the following dream:

It was dark outside and Emily was walking up to a street corner with a key in hand.  She walked up to a red shop door and unlocked it.  Inside was an empty cafe.  Emily walked through the cafe and up a set of stairs in the back.  When she reached the landing, she opened another door and pulled a string to turn on the light.  She was standing in an empty apartment.  Emily looked around with a satisfied smile.  She was in her new home!  The cafe downstairs was hers, too!  She looked down at her arms and saw that she was carrying a flour-sack baby.  She carried the flour-sack baby to the window and looked out to the dark street below.   She saw a young woman coming up the sidewalk carrying a red suitcase.  It was Kate!  Excited, Emily tapped on the window with her free hand and waved as Kate's face tilted up.  Kate cracked into a grin and held the suitcase up, waving wildly.  Emily laughed.  She knew Kate was moving in and they were going to be running a cafe downstairs.  She stepped back to the center of the room and happily held the flour-sack baby up in the air.  As she held it up to the light, she realized it was a real baby.  A very tiny, undeveloped baby.  It was so undeveloped, in fact, that it was see-through.  Emily held it up to the light and looked at all of the veins and the beating heart of the baby.  "It's beautiful,"  she said aloud.  "I will take care of you,"  she promised.

The next morning, Emily couldn't wait to tell Kate about her dream.  She ran around the block to Kate's apartment and shared the story over coffee.  They smiled at each other.  This is really going to happen, they agreed.  We will do this.