November 07, 2017
This not a post about how to make a perfect pie. There are lots of websites for that. This is a post about forgetting perfection, and making pie anyway, for the process, for the sharing of it with friends, and for the deliciousness. I really enjoy making pie, especially at this time of year when the apple orchard outside my studio is calling to me. I love that it’s zen and tactile and pretty in a “there’s flour everywhere” kind of way. And there is really nothing like making a pie from scratch on Thanksgiving to make your family think you've got your sh*t together in the kitchen (and maybe in life?) Am I right? So there's that too.
But I have no experience with perfect pies, or perfection of any kind actually. And, full disclosure: this is not my recipe. If you think I have the time or skills to develop a foolproof pie crust recipe on my own, well, thank you, and also you are very wrong. But I have been practicing with this recipe developed by Cooks Illustrated, with vodka as a really cool secret ingredient. The theory is that the vodka allows the pastry to be workable as you roll it out, but then evaporates quickly leaving a really flaky crust. Ingenious, isn’t it? And for the apple mixture and baking instructions I used this Smitten Kitchen recipe, because I love her.
The first time I made this crust it came out better than the second time. But that was because I made a bunch of mistakes. I tried to make a double recipe in a too small cuisinart that also was broken and had no pulse feature. Add to that pleasant distractions like cute noisy kids and me wanting to play board games by the fire instead. Then I spilled a little bit of the flour on the floor, so the ratio was a little hinky, and then I over mixed it, and didn’t add really any liquid because the ratio was off. Well, you get it. And all the things I mentioned before also pushed the whole process back a little, hence the pie making in the dark. . .
But considering the fact that I messed up SO many things, and it still made a delicious pie, I feel confident calling this as a truly foolproof recipe. (Me being the fool, in this scenario of course.) If you follow the directions even just a little bit better than I did, I know your pie will be gorgeous.
The reason I am detailing for you all of these mistakes and mishaps is to make pie making seem less scary. It's just pie! What's the worst than can happen? And even if you don’t do a perfect job you will still get lots of oohs and ahhs when you bring it out to your family at the thanksgiving table. And even if it looks kind of like a mess, it will still be delicious! So don’t worry about doing it right, or doing it for the perfect outcome. Don’t worry about it at all. Do it for the process. You’ll be glad you did. And your family will be definitely be glad you did, because, well, PIE!
And if you need to dip into the vodka to get through it, I won’t tell.