Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My Life Has Been Punctuated by Pies

My first pie memory is apple pie during a weekend on a farm in New Jersey. I was tiny – maybe three or four – but I remember my bite of the warm pie.

And then, somewhere along the way, I became a baker.

There was the pecan pie episode of 2005 when I baked more pies than I’d care to remember… pie after pie after pie. I got the filling down beautifully, but never perfected the crust to my liking. I hate Crisco with a fiery passion so I always tried to leave out the shortening. Thinking about shortening sends shivers down my spine.  And opening up a can of shortening is my own version of hell. It gives crusts a greasy texture that I really dislike – besides, it doesn’t even taste good – but unfortunately most recipes still depend on it. I ultimately waved the white flag of defeat and moved on to brownies. So, I have unfinished business with pecan pies.

And then there was the peanut butter chocolate pie of 2007. Damn good pie. I only bring out this pie when someone has done something really, really good and deserves pie. Pie is a privilege, not a god-given right. This pie made reappearances in February 2008 and November 2010.  It’s sort of like Elvis: every few years, there’s a sighting. Like I said, this is special pie.

But, right now, I’ve got fruit pie on my mind. Can you believe I’ve never made a fruit pie? I’ve made a lemon curd tart (Patricia Wells’ Lemon Lover’s Tart recipe is lovely and has made me new friends) but I’ve never made a pie with whole pieces of fruit.

So, we’re hosting a dinner party in about a month and I’m already planning pie for dessert. But, what kind? It’s not apple pie season, and the peaches are nowhere near sweet enough.  I’ve never liked rhubarb and I’m not about to start now. We’re in the no man’s land between the apples and pears of autumn and the berries of summer.

I have no back-up plan yet. I don’t like ending a great meal by bringing out a plate of cookies. I’m a huge fan of cookies and biscotti, but sometimes there’s no magic, no surprise, no zsa zsa zsu. I’d love to make macarons, but I’m afraid I’d be in over my head (Check out the interview with Annie Pambaguian, a supremely talented pâtissière, on Spicelines: Annie spent a whole year teaching herself to make macarons.).

Cheesecake might be good. Or buttermilk pie.  You see, I’m going for a crowd pleaser here. So, maybe, I’ll take up the gauntlet. I can see it now: Me versus the pecan pie, part two. 

* If you're a baker, amateur or otherwise, I'd love to hear about the dessert that you've always tried to perfect. Shoot me an email at runfasttravelslow[at]gmail[dot]com or leave a comment. 


  1. 1) I completely, utterly and unconditionally approve of a blog post claiming one's life has been punctuated by pies.
    2) I think it is almost criminal that you and I have never baked together. I think that should be remedied soon!

  2. You're too sweet. And I'll bake with you anytime :) I can't decide what to tackle first: madeleines or macarons.