Tag Archives: pie

what pie is this?: a 2019 reflection

16 Jan

As you may remember, I declared 2019 to be the Year of Pie. I was hellbent on making a new pie every month, and sharing it with you all. Well, sharing the experience of it with you all. It’s not like I was going to show up on all of your doorsteps, pie in hand, though that would have been pretty amazong (which is a step above amazing).

And, Interwebers, I did it. Mostly. For 11 out of the 12 months, I made a new pie, and I shared it with you. Okay, not here, because, well, whatever, I just never wrote about it. But I’m pretty sure….goes and checks Instagram…nope, no I didn’t. I didn’t even post about all of them on Instagram. Oh well.

Trust me, though, I accomplished my Year of Pie that I set out for myself. And I consider finishing 11/12 of this goal as good as if I had made 12 out of 12. The only month I missed completely was October, and I’m not entirely sure why. It is my spirit month, after all—you’d think I’d have been reveling in All The Fall Baking at that point, but no.

And though there were some misses—LO! WERE THERE MISSES—there were some definite winners as well. The February pie comes to mind, as does the April topless pie (re: tart), the September pie (which I never wrote about here) and the November tart (same). I’d make all of these again, and in the case of the April tart, I already have, and don’t any of you be surprised if you come to my house and it’s in a regular rotation of dinner party desserts. YOU’RE WELCOME.

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The November topless pie, a chocolate raspberry tart. I never wrote about it, but believe me when I tell you it was Full of Yum. 

Year of Pie, I learned so much from you. I learned that making a crust from scratch isn’t as terrifying as I thought. I learned that I shouldn’t try to make up my own recipe, lest I’m left with a weird pie amalgamation that defies all pie rules, but not in a good way. I’ve learned that pie is delicious. Wait, no, I didn’t learn that, I already knew that. I learned that having a reputable source is key to making a good pie. I learned that I owe Sally’s Baking Addiction and King Arthur Flour many several thank yous for their delicious recipes. I learned that I am very picky about my pies, because no one should eat bad pie, and people, there are a lot of Bad. Pies. out there. Occasionally, those Bad Pies are made by me.

Year of Pie, you were marvelous. Thank you.

2019 Pies 

January’s Pie: Chocolate cream pie from King Arthur Flour

February’s Pie: Creamy Lemon pie from Sally’s Baking Addiction

March’s Pie: Fudge Bottom pie from Kitchn

April’s Pie: Brown Butter Raspberry Tart from epicurious

May’s Pie: Salted Honey Pie from David Lebovitz

June’s Pie: A terrible amalgamation of the crust from the March Pie and a twist on the filling from the February Pie. Don’t ask.

July’s Pie: Blueberry Pie, with filling from Sally’s Baking Addiction, and crust from King Arthur Flour

August’s Pie: Peach Streusel Pie from King Arthur Flour

September’s Pie: S’mores Brownie Pie from Sally’s Baking Addiction

October’s Pie: No pie. Bummer.

November’s Pie: Chocolate Raspberry Tart from…you know, I cannot remember. I think maybe Martha Stewart?

December’s Pie: Cranberry Pear Crumble Pie from Sally’s Baking Addiction

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

year of the pie–i’m telling you i didn’t forget!

5 Apr

I know you think I’ve let pie fall by the wayside, because it’s April and there’s yet to be a mention of pie since my successful(ish) January bake. But there was pie in February, Interwebers. And there was one in March, too, thankyouverymuchandhaveaniceday. But we’re not talking about March’s pie right now. We’re talking about February, because it’s April, and I am nothing if not timely.

February’s pie was delicious. I made a creamy lemon pie, with the recipe courtesy of Sally’s Baking Addiction because that Sally knows her shit. (If you’re on the hunt for some delicious baked goods, I highly recommend checking out her site. It’s reputable.* Granted, I haven’t had success with EVERY recipe I’ve tried from her, but let’s be frank—that’s most likely due to user error rather than the recipe she’s touting.)

I made the pie for Swede’s birthday, and it took some trial and error getting to the decision to make the creamy lemon pie, because when I asked Swede what kind of dessert he wanted for his birthday, he listed five different options. One of which was a lemon meringue pie, which I immediately jumped on because I actually know how to make a lemon meringue pie, and I know how to make a really delicious lemon meringue pie, but then I realized that couldn’t count toward my Year of the Pie Goal, so I decided what Swede really wanted was a creamy lemon pie, which would be also delicious and would, in fact, count toward my Year of the Pie Goal.

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The name of this pie says it all: It’s creamy and it’s lemon. And the whipped cream on top is delightful (and yes, I did that piping myself). I liked the crust, too, because A) Not a pastry crust! I still haven’t found my rolling pin! and 2) The almonds in the graham cracker crust add a nice flavor. Overall, this is a stupidly easy pie to bring together, though I was a little nervous that it wouldn’t set and the filling would come blubbering out once I sliced into it, because I’m nervous about this with any pie, really. But it didn’t! It held together beautifully. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, even Swede, even if it’s not really the pie he chose, but whatever.

Pie.

*After pinning thousands of pins on Pinterest, and actually making some, I’ve come to the stark realization that you can’t always believe what is on the Interwebs. (!!!) And frequently, the recipes I tried turned out like crap. So over the past year or so, I’ve largely been sticking to food sites that I know have been around since the dawn of blogs and have a good reputation.

 

readers ask

18 May

Dear McPolish,

My darling husband will soon be celebrating his first Father’s Day and has a hankering for banana cream pie. He was quite adamant that it be a good, rich, custard-y type pie, not some banana-flavored thing with 6 inches of fake whipped cream on top, a la Denny’s.

Now, when I think “custard,” I think, “Oh shit, I’m going to have sugary scrambled eggs or raw-egg soup.”

I found a recipe by Emeril Lagasse that I think I’ll use, but sure enough, I’m forewarned not to fuck up the custard during the whisking process when the egg yolks hit the stove. He says to whisk frantically for 5 minutes, but I’m then told to go more by consistency than time.

What, exactly, is the consistency I’m looking for?

—Custard, Not Cus-terd.

Dear Custard,

First of all, there is not a chance in hell you will fuck up the custard, because I know you and I have faith in your baking abilities. Secondly, even if you did fuck it up it would still be okay, and your husband will just have to like it because you birthed a human, for Christ’s sake, and what did he do? He got all the fun part.

What?

I don’t have any kids. I’m going to shut my yap now.

So!

Banana Cream Pie!

Oh, how I love pie. PAH!

But to be honest, having only ever made two pahs in my life, I can’t answer this one from personal experience. But being fantastically resourceful, I researched the interwebs and have an answer for you.

Ready?

It should be thicker than a pudding, but not as firm as a crème brulee.

Ta-Daaaa!

Does that help?

Probably not.

It makes sense in my head.

Damn.

I’m sorry.

Why couldn’t you have asked about the many uses of butter? Or how not to frost a cake?

Let us know how the pah! turns out, and if it doesn’t, can I at least locate the nearest Baker’s Square for you?

Other readers, do you have any advice for Custard? Or is this Custard’s last stand with pah-making? Leave your thoughts, opinions, and tips in the comments section!

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On a completely other note, a new food magazine (and crafts and such) recently launched, called Sweet Paul. It’s free! It’s completely online! And it’s pretty good! Check it out if you’re into that sort of thing. Fair warning: the photography is practically lickable.