Why is apple pie supposed to be easy?
In my years of culinary efforts, I have never found pie making to be easy.
Historically, pie was mentioned as easy, but more for the ease of eating—certainly, not for the baking.
Early in my adult life, I attempted baking an apple pie. Generally, I consider myself a proficient cook, but the pie baking almost conquered me.
Taking the cold butter and flour as shown in a recipe, I mixed it to the consistency required using the process specified. Then, I rolled the dough out with my rolling pin. Trying to convey the flat crust to the pan wasn’t working. It broke up into pieces several times.
Finally, in exasperation, I took the largest chunks that remained together, removed them with a spatula and placed them in the pie pan. Using my fingers, I blended the edges together where there were gaps.
The result looked reasonably like a piecrust.
Then, I took the pie filling, partly canned, partly added ingredients, and filled the pie.
By then, I’d given up on creating another piecrust to place over the filling. I took pieces of pie dough and created a lattice-looking topping, weaving the pieces together in a basket effect.
Time to bake!
But, the force was not with me. Following the recipe, I used a higher temperature for 15 minutes, which was supposed to brown the crust. Before the fifteen minutes had elapsed, I smelled burning from the oven. Nothing had dripped, but the burnt smell was quite pronounced. I quickly lowered the temperature.
When the pie finally appeared ready, we ate it. While not a bad effort, the crust wasn’t terrific, flaky or the result I’d hoped for.
Because of the burning, I called the apartment’s maintenance supervisor to check the oven for me. Since the burning occurred before the temperature was supposed to be lowered, I figured the oven’s thermostat was off.
When the technician listened to what had happened and did some checking, he declared the burning a fault, not of the oven, but of the baker. I was insulted!
The pie was somewhat edible, but I decided after the effort that had gone into it that it wasn’t worth it. For many years, I bought pre-made pies.
Then, revelation, I found a premade piecrust. I followed directions. Things came out well. I was even able to make quiches that people actually raved about. (I never misrepresented the crust as homemade.)
So, pies may be easy to eat. They are sweet or savory, satisfying with richness and a mix of flavors.
Over the years, I’ve strategized ways around my piecrust-making deficit. I’ve found decent premade pies and acceptable piecrusts. For my quiches, my “secret” ingredient is a dash of nutmeg. For fruit pies, I load the crust with filling so it is very full.
People like what I bake. But, I’ve become the queen of “workaround” pie baking because – PIE IS NOT EASY.
As in writing, and other important elements of life and work, pie baking has taught me several things:
1) Stick to it. Tenacity is important.
2) Use the right ingredients.
3) Ignore insults. (See #1.)
4) Find a workaround.
Maybe we all need to be MacGyver!