Tag Archives: baking

may i have this pie

5 Sep

I told you about the April pie. And the June pie. And about the July pie. And now that I’ve reminded you about these pies, you’re probably thinking, “But she never told us about a May pie. Clearly she has not been successful in her Year of Pie, and the pursuit of goals has run amok and life as we know it is not worth living without her pie updates.”

And that is where you would be wrong, Interwebers.

Because I DID make a May pie.

I just haven’t gotten around to telling you about it until now. Also, I like to keep you on your toes.

You’re welcome.

Anyhoodles, the May pie goes something like this: My friend Jen gave me this recipe, and she got it from David Lebovitz (not, like, personally, I don’t think. I think just from a blog or a cookbook or an Instagram post or some such). So my feeling on the outcome of this pie was pretty much if it sucked, we can all blame them. Granted, if it sucked, there was a 112% chance that it sucked because of baker error rather than anything my friend Jen or David Lebovitz did, but honestly, I can’t be held accountable for my baking after I’ve spent the evening introducing my parents to the best Chinese restaurant in Chicago and stuffing ourselves silly with bao and a pork dish that we didn’t actually order, among other delicious dishes.

Because that’s exactly how this pie came into being. Stuffed with Chinese food, and home by 7 pm on a Saturday night, what else is a girl to do? Some people, I realize, go clubbing on Saturday nights. I like to bust out my best jammie pants, put my hair up in its messiest bun, put on the most perfect pair of slippers, and go baking.

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Behold! A pretzel crust! 

Just kidding. I don’t have slippers. I wish I did, though.

I used Lebovitz’s salted pretzel crust for this pie, rather than a traditional crust, because back when I made it I A) still hadn’t located my rolling pin, and 2) hadn’t purchased my new rolling pin, and III) was still frightened of making a pastry crust, even though it turns out I am stellar at it. For the honey I used whatever honey we had on hand, and in truth, Interwebers, I think this may be where I went wrong.

Because I didn’t love the pie.

I say this, and I say it with the recognition that I’m not a huge fan of honey in general (though I adore this candle because it smells like my kids after bathtime), but I just didn’t think the pie was all that great. Definitely not a standout for me. Interestingly, I brought this pie to dinner at our friends’ house, and the friends absolutely loved it. It’s entirely possible that they were putting me on, and just being polite. It’s also entirely possible that my bias of feeling “meh” toward honey-flavored things is at play here. I am happy to report, at least, that in the actual making of the pie, it came together quite easily, and despite being completely watery when I poured it in the crust, it set nicely.

Perhaps if I had used a specialty, high-quality honey I would have liked it more. Perhaps I should have added more honey to flavor it. Or perhaps this pie, while technically fine, and while other people enjoyed it, was simply not my cup of tea.

Lesson learned.

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I should love everything about this pie, from its delightful pretzel crust to the flaked sea salt on top. Who doesn’t love flaked sea salt on pie, amirite? And yet, I did not love this pie.

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bye, bye miss july pie

8 Aug

You guys, I did it. I finally made a pie crust from scratch.

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Pie crust! Made from scratch! With a rolling pin!

And then made a pie with it!

What? Who? How? What is this madness you speak of! You finally found your rolling pin! Where was it?

No idea.

Oh.

I sucked it up and bought a new one from Amazon. Which, it turns out, I like a lot better than my old rolling pin.

Well, that’s okay, I guess. A little lazy and over-consumer-ish when you could have just sucked it up and taken 12 hours to dig through your basement and crawl space to find your old one. But whatever.

Stop judging me. I did it for the pie, okay? And for personal growth of finishing something I started.

Tell it to your therapist. Now tell us about your pie.

Gladly. But I feel this pie experience would be best expressed as a litany of Thank Yous.

How very Alanis Morissette of you.

Thank you, Indiana. Thank you, blueberries. Thank you, thaaaankk youuuu pie play-aate!

OMG. I can’t even with you.

You’re my inner voice, you have to with me.

Get. On. With it.

Right. Thank you….

…Indiana, for the blueberries. Everyone always touts Michigan blueberries, but Indiana is rife with berry patches as well. Plus, it’s marginally closer than driving to Michigan. Sadly, Indiana didn’t get the memo that the weather was supposed to cool off the weekend we picked, after three days of insane heat in Chicago, and after 10 minutes of picking we all looked like we’d jumped in a pool.

…my children, for not melting when Swede and I made them go blueberry picking on the aforementioned hotter than F day, even if Toddler McSwedolish, at one point, sat down in the middle of the blueberry patch and announced he didn’t want to pick anymore, and that I should fill his bucket with blueberries. If we started picking at 11 am, this statement was declared at 11:05.

…rain, which rolled in juuuuust as we were finishing up our picking. My God, I have never been so thankful for a cool breeze and playing on a jungle gym (which was at the front of the berry patch, and which is how we bribed Toddler McSwedolish to not run away while picking berries) in a steady rain.

…my children, again, for forgetting the hardship that was picking blueberries and happily “helping” me make, but more so eat, the pie. (No “helping” about it when it came to the eating, I should add.)

…King Arthur Flour, for the delicious and so-simple-why-was-I-avoiding-this-for-so-long? pie crust recipe.

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So much butter! All for the crust! I love you, butter! 

…Sally’s Baking Addiction, for the pie filling recipe. It’s different—all the blueberries stay their individual selves, rather than get kind of mushed together (in a good way) as in other blueberry pies I’ve eaten. Plus, I like the dash of cinnamon added to the filling, for the depth of flavor it provided.

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And more butter in the filling! 

… King Arthur Flour (again) for not getting upset that I didn’t use their blueberry pie filling recipe. (I only had 6 cups of blueberries left over after Swede made a dozen jars of blueberry liqueur!) This is most likely due to the fact that they don’t know I didn’t use their recipe, so don’t tell them.

…my own brilliance for using all brown sugar, instead of white sugar for the pie filling, as Swede had used all my white sugar in the aforementioned blueberry liqueur. If/when I make this pie again, I will keep using straight brown sugar. Though I may try an experiment of one pie with white sugar and one with brown, to see how the tastes differ. Project!

…self, for getting over yourself and putting your new rolling pin to work. Was that so hard? No. No, it was not.

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Look at that goddamned gorgeous finished pie. PIE! 

And blueberry makes 7.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

when my best intentions go south, or, the june pie

1 Aug

When I started my Year of Pie, I wanted to tackle this escapade because I wanted to challenge myself, sure, but I also wanted know more about the ins and outs of making pie. One half of a year into the project, and I can safely report that I know very little more now than I did when I started. Case in point, the June pie.

I was feeling daring. I felt like I’d had enough successes, even with my sloppy, messy—YET DELICIOUS—March pie, that I could successfully step out of my comfort zone of following a recipe and create my own pie. Kind of.

I started out thinking about what I liked about some of the pies I already created. The March pie, while a failure* had a delicious, cookie-like crust. The February pie, which I considered quite successful given that there was little to none left once our party guests left, was delicious and easy. But then I took the February pie one step further, and wondered if, instead of lemon, I could use orange instead.

And then I will have a pie that essentially tastes like a creamsicle.

And I love creamsicles.

YUUUHHHHSSSS.

So I went ahead and did all of those things, creating a Frankenpie of my own dreams. I made the pie crust from the March pie. I made the filling from the February pie, but subbed in orange juice instead of lemon.

It was obvious then, that I was a pie genius in-the-making. This, despite my doubts as I put the pie in the oven, as the pie in its pan was thin, watery(?), and a very unappetizing color. No matter, I assured myself, things change when they bake, because of all the heat and sugar and science and magic. It would be fine. It was going to be delicious.

Interwebers, do I need to tell you that what I had hoped would be the pie to end all pies was, in fact, a piestrosity?

Because it was.

I’m not entirely sure where I went wrong, except maybe being too in love with my own personal grandeur, and for the millionth time ignoring the little voice in my head as I was making the pie that something didn’t seem right. I certainly overbaked the pie, but I’m not sure if I had baked it less it would have been any better. There were, in my opinion, several things wrong with the pie, but for brevity’s sake I will share with you the top three:

  1. The pie never magicked into an appetizing color. The crust and the filling both stayed an unappealing beige, though the filling did have a sort of yellowish, almost ghoulish underlying tint to it. Not that that helped anything.
  2. There was little-to-no orange flavor. I guess when baked orange is just not as strong as lemon? Perhaps I should have added orange zest? I just…I don’t really know how to explain it. But the filling was creamy(ish) (if overbaked) and tasted like baked condensed milk. Not…terrible? Certainly not good. (IMHO.) But not at all what I was going for.
  3. The crust and filling switched places. I repeat: THE CRUST AND THE FILLING SWITCHED PLACES. I wish I could say I’m joking about that, but even more I wish I could explain how that even happens. (I mean, I know baking is half done by magic, but this seems a trick beyond compare.) After I pulled the pie out of the oven and let it cool, I cut into it, and realized that no…no, my eyes were not playing a trick on me—the crust had definitely somehow sort of floated to the top and caramelized over the filling. Underneath was a softer texture—what was meant to be the filling. I wish I had taken a picture as proof, but the pie was so ugly I couldn’t bear the thought of having that image captured. As it is, I can never unsee it.

I was so disappointed that the pie was such a flop that I didn’t even bother decorating it with piped whipped cream as I’d planned. I didn’t even bother eating more than a bite of it—I didn’t think too highly of the flavor, though my Swede said it tasted pretty good and ate a whole slice. And I didn’t even bother taking a picture of it. So just believe me when I say that it was not good.

I should probably take “Pie Developer” off my resume. May have been a little preemptive in that addition to my skill set.** Excuse me while I go make some edits…

On to the next pie!

*In my personal opinion.

**Though if someone thought, in my line of work, that pie developer was an asset of a skill to have, well. It would be a whole new ballgame.

such a tart

3 May

You should know—and perhaps you’ve already noticed—that my photography skills—the little that I had—went to pot fast here on McPolish. I’d like to blame camera phones, Instagram, dirty politicians, and cheap gin, but really it’s because I’m too lazy to pull out my big, fancy camera and do a proper photo with good lighting, photo editing, etc, etc.

And because of this, I realize in my quest to achieve Pie Greatness this year, I’m not giving you very appetizing shots of the pies I’ve made.

Well, Interwebs….

Prepare to be disappointed again, friends!

But what April’s featured pie lacks in photogenic-ness (?) (it’s a word now), it makes up for in taste. And know that I at least attempted to get you some better photos this month, friends. I may not have succeeded, but it’s the thought that counts.

I should also prepare you to be twice disappointed because technically I made a tart, which is not exactly a pie, but it’s not not a pie. As I mentioned on The Instagram when I made this brown butter raspberry tart from epicurious, tarts are similar to pies in that there is crust and there is filling, so it counts. And, and, when I looked up just now whether it should be tart or tarte, The Wikipedia says this “tarte” is a French word that can mean either pie or tart, “as both are mainly the same with the exception of a pie usually covering the filling in pastry, while flans and tarts leave it open.”

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The uncooked tart, which is similar to pie.

The key word here is usually, people. When have I ever done anything “usually”? Do you see pastry lids on any of the three previous pies I’ve made this year? No. No you do not.

Ergo, this tart counts toward my Year of Pie goal.

It also counts because I say it does.

Anyhooters, once I nailed the browned butter part of this recipe (my first batch of browned butter burned, and I learned something then: There is nothing sadder than burned butter) (I learned, too, that it’s easier to brown butter in a pot with a light colored bottom, because you can actually tell when it starts to brown) (tell your friends), the rest of it came together beautifully. And instead of listening to the directions, I only cooked it for about 30 minutes, rather than 40, but it seemed done, so I pulled it out of the oven. But then about an hour later I was second guessing my decision, and was worried I’d have yet another fall-apart dessert on my hands when slicing it up that night for our guests (because yes, I all the goddamn time buck the adage that you should never make new recipes when you’ve got guests coming for dinner, because what if it all goes to shit) (answer: order pizza) so I threw it back into the oven for another ten minutes or so just to be sure.

Let the record show that Swede gave me A Look when I did this and then put a voice to my doubt over this choice. And let the record show that he also agreed with me when I said, “I may have fucked up the tart.”

And also let the record show we were both wrong.

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The finished tart, which is still similar to pie.

Next time I’ll probably just bake it for 40 minutes straightaway, rather than 30 minutes and then another 10 random minutes later in the day. But it obviously didn’t affect the taste, because the four of us—me, Swede, and our old next-door neighbors who came for dinner—killed that tart in one fell swoop. There was not a crumb in sight.

And tart makes FOUR.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and here we have the march pie

26 Apr

There are five things you should know about this Fudge Bottom Pie, besides the fact that yes, I did in fact make a pie in March and that makes THREE MONTHS IN A ROW THAT I HAVE DONE SOMETHING I PROMISED NO ONE IN PARTICULAR I WOULD DO. SUCK ON THAT, PIE HATERS!

 

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One: While thinking about, and while making this pie, I sang about this pie. Specifically, I sang “Fudge bottom pie, you make the rockin’ world go ‘round!” a la Queen’s Fat Bottom Girls, because you just can’t not sing it. And now you’ll be humming it for the rest of this post. You’re welcome.

Two: This pie fell apart. REPEAT: FELL. APART. The flavors are delicious, with the whipped cream pillowed high on the cream filling piled on the fudge layer slathered on the crust—it all mingles together in a bite that is delightful. But it FELL APART. The cream layer never set properly, and it didn’t hold when sliced. Had I read the comments on the recipe, I would have known this was probably going to happen, but I didn’t, so I didn’t, and rather than a nice clean holding together slice, it was more like what you get when you mix cake and ice cream together. Which is not a bad thing, necessarily, simply disappointing.

Three: Baby McSwedolish enjoyed the pie, because giving pie to an at-the-time 7-month old is always a good idea. She liked it almost as much as she likes yogurt, which is saying something, because she likes yogurt like I like Diet Pepsi. Which is to say that someday she may say she likes yogurt so much she would smack her mama for it, which is mildly disturbing because I really don’t want to get punched in the face for yogurt. If I’m going to get punched in the face it should be for something really, really good, like two Diet Pepsis.

Four: The crust of this pie tastes like a cookie, and I would definitely make it again with a different filling. Perhaps a filling that actually holds together.

Five: Did I mention I’m three-for-three in pie completion? Oh, I did? I yelled it at the top of this post? Funny, that. Well, whatever. I’ll mention it again just in case there was a loud noise in the background last time and you didn’t hear it. THREE. FOR. THREE. And even if this pie wasn’t a rousing success (by my own personal standards) I’m considering the fact that I got it made a success in and of itself, because it’s all about the journey and blah and blah and insert inspirational Oprah-esque quote, blah blah, move out of the way while I pat myself on the back, YAY ME.

PIE.

 

 

year of the pie–i haven’t forgotten

21 Feb

I told you back in January how I was All About the Pie this year. And then I pretty much went radio silent. And then you were probably like, “Oh look, McPolish made a promise about baked goods she doesn’t intend to keep—AGAIN.” Or you probably thought, “Oh sure. Big goals. NO action. Typical McPolish. AGAIN.”

And that is where you are WRONG, my friends. I am ALL ACTION.

For pie, at least.

Granted, I just barely got January’s pie off the ground, literally whipping it up on the last day of the month, but I did it. And while the only thing I have to prove to you that I did it is a terrible photo and the glowing accolade of my six-year-old nephew who isn’t terribly discerning when it comes to baked goods so long as they are sugar filled and no one tattles on him if he has a second piece when his mom isn’t looking, it’s safe to say my first pie was a success.

Kind of.

The filling and topping were a success. How could they not be? The filling was a decadent chocolate pudding-like creation. The topping was whipped cream. How does a person not like those things, separately or combined?

But the crust was meh.

Admittedly, it was store bought, and lacking in proper cooking instructions. (Proper baking temperature? Amount of time for parbaking? Bueller?) But it was the best I could do under the circumstances, seeing as how I still haven’t located my rolling pin and thus firmly believed I could not make a pastry crust. And more admittedly, I spent most of the month of January avoiding thinking about pie, pushing it off “until I find my rolling pin,” because the rolling pin was so key. You can’t make pie without a rolling pin! Because you need the rolling pin to make the crust! Except for all those other pie recipes that don’t require a pastry crust! But F those pies! I needed to make a pie with a pastry crust and I didn’t have a rolling pin and finding it required actually looking for it and it was more fun to just think about looking for it than actually digging through boxes.

And then the next thing I knew it was January 31st and I still hadn’t made the pie and I was all, “Awesome, totally screwing my goals from the word go! Again! Wheeeee!” But then I had a talk with myself and I was like, “Girl, just go get the damn store bought crust and make the damn pie and stop damn sabotaging yourself and don’t be an asshole.*”

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Terrible photo. Delicious pie. 

So I went to the damn store and I bought the damn crust and I made a damn chocolate cream pie from an America’s Test Kitchen recipe and it was damn delicious. A damn success all around if you ask me.

One month down, 11 to go.

*You should know that most of my pep talks with myself involve me telling myself not to be an asshole.

2019 year in preview

3 Jan

I’m not sure if you know this, but 2019 is the Year of the Pie.*

It is because I am declaring it so.

I’ve made a few pies in my life. I mean that literally. I’m not trying to be clever or shrug off a major accomplishment as if it’s no big deal, like really I’m a pie expert and could make pie in my sleep and have won pie contests 16 years running but when I’m asked if I’ve ever made a pie simply reply with a non-committal “Oh, I’ve made a few pies here and there.”

I once made a chocolate pie for a Thanksgiving gathering that never set, so it was more like chocolate goo in crust. I didn’t even bring it to the gathering. I’ve made a pumpkin pie. It was okay. I’ve made fresh tomato pie—the only time I ever attempted a homemade crust—and while delicious I know it did not turn out how it was supposed to. (Though if it was still delicious, does it really matter if it doesn’t meet what the recipe says?) I’ve made lemon meringue pie twice and they were both spectacular, far and away my best pie success.

I’ve always been a fan of eating pie, especially good pie. And I define good pie as pie that has a delicious filling (obviously) but also has a crust worth eating. Because you may or may not know this, but a lot of pie crust? Is dumb. And terrible for eating. It’s as bad as having terrible pizza crust, the kind you leave discarded on the plate because there’s no point in spending the energy to chew it.

But last year, while staying with kind friends during The Renovation That Engulfed Our Lives, my friend made three pies in two weeks. And they were amazing pies—complete with amazing crust. They gave me faith in pie crust that previously did not exist. And it made me want to try my own hand at making pie, not once, not twice, but 12 times. Once a month, one new pie I’ve never made. (PS—I’m taking suggestions.) So that’s what I’m going to do in 2019.

Pie.

*I mentioned in a post long ago and many moons away that 2017 was the Year of Ice Cream, and I was WILDLY successful (by my standards) at making one new ice cream flavor per month. I ended up making 10 of the 12 months, with some terrific hits (brown sugar bourbon comes to mind) and some bleh misses (I’m looking at you, baklava ice cream). 2018 was going to be the year of the cookie, but I only made one (pan-bang chocolate chip cookies, which are delicious) and then got tired (pregnancy and house renovations will do that to you) (I know, I know, I sound like a broken record when I say things like that, but that was my 2018, and I’m sure I had other feelings and emotions and that other things happened but for the life of me I can’t remember them right now).