Even with the best of plans and nearly a month of pie experience, this Thanksgiving proved to me that when it comes to pie, there's always an element of luck ...
Pie Fail #1: No Sugar, Sherlock
For my cranberry-walnut pie, I had to run to Trader Joe's to pick up the proper nuts and some sugar. I live around the corner from TJ's and am so used to dashing in and out of there that I plumb forgot what a madhouse it would be the day before Thanksgiving. The crowds! The frantic stuffing snatches! The gridlock in the baking aisle! I felt lucky to have gotten out of there with my life.
It wasn't until late on Thanksgiving morning, when I was ready to assemble and bake my final pie, that I realized that the sugar never made it into my shopping basket. I had brown sugar, which would probably have worked, but I figured, "No problem. I've got two more excellent pies to bring, and I know there's waaaay too much dessert for everyone to eat anyway. I'll just skip this one, and work the cranberries into an Apple Pie Lab recipe later this weekend."
Little did I expect …
Pie Fail #2: Crustquake
The lemon-mascarpone pie was done. I made a little extra to whip up a sample pot pie that tasted fabulous. Perfectly crimped and golden brown, the crust was a stunner. Until I dropped it.
It just slipped out of my grasp, a mere two inches from hand to counter, and I swear to the pie gods I remember it in classic slow motion, going "Nooooooooooo." A mere two inches, and every single everloving crimp ended up in a shatter pattern out on the table and onto the floor. There was no time to remake a crust, and my creation -- while still damn tasty -- was no longer ready for prime time.
Sad but undaunted, I transferred my final pie from freezer to cooler, gently, gently. It looked amazing. It tasted amazing. It was amazing. Until …
Pie Fail #3: Freezermergency
When I made my Nutella pie this time, I decided to mix it up. I wanted to give it some extra dimension besides just Nutella and mascarpone, so I whipped a little crème fraiche in there as well. To compensate for the more liquid texture, I threw it into the freezer and it turned out awesome -- light and moussy, with a slight but intriguing tang. It even survived the drive over, swaddled in beach towels over ice in a cooler, intact.
Looks good, no?
But. But. While chilly enough to keep the pie safe to eat, my cooler wasn't cold enough to keep the filling frozen -- and I hadn't realized that my mother-in-law's refrigerator-freezer was only seven inches wide. Too narrow for nine-inch pie. We sacrificed all the ice in the freezer to the cooler in a heroic effort to get it to set. No dice. That delicious choconutty filling was still shimmying all over the pie plate by the time dessert rolled around.
At that point, we were staring down an enormous spread of pastries and truffles and cookies and other pies with about an inch of room in our collective tummies. None of us was willing to scoop some shimmying choconutty goo into a bowl and call it pie. So we called it a night, and took the final pie home.
Well, besides the humble pie I had to eat when confessing to my family that after all my big talk, I had zero pies to bring to the table, I'm actually sitting pretty right now. The Nutella pie set right back up in the freezer and is ready to eat. The lemon pie filling got transferred into a new crust and is looking good. I have a weekend to invite some pals (and any family who feels like schlepping over to San Francisco) to sample my wares and boost my self-esteem.
And I learned a valuable lesson: Never mess with a recipe on a big day, even if you're positive that your new creation will turn out better than ever before. Your pie will humble you.
How did your holiday pie making go? Any stories to tell?
Have you seen all the pies I've blogged so far this month? I'm talking about pie every day in November at the Month of Pies archive.
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