Like my gnocchi dinner party disaster of December ’10, my entry to the Pie Slam last week can only be described as an epic fail. While I thoroughly enjoyed the company and stories of the other entrants, I could not help but be haunted the entire night by my personal pie fail. What started as a pumpkin cream pie somehow melted into what can only be called pumpkin soup during the journey from my dorm room to the judging table. I could blame it on my weak dorm fridge or the hot lights of the CakeSpy gallery, but ultimately the pumpkin soup can only be blamed on myself.
Not one to wallow in my baking failures (since mistakes – both massive and minor – are inevitable in a baker’s career), I set my sights on redeeming myself. Not for anyone else, not even for the pie gods, but to prove to myself that I could again master the pie – that I would not fall victim to its pastry challenges.
Spring break has been the perfect opportunity to get my pie redemption. Living in a house of hungry college friends on Whidbey Island, and finally blessed with a beautiful, fully equipped kitchen, baking was my first priority. I whipped out the lime green Kitchenaid mixer within hours of arriving and got to work on a classic apple pie recipe from Martha Stewart.
Just my luck, the pie that was not for judging or consumption by well known bakers of Seattle, turned out beautifully. Warm, aromatic, and simply stunning in the late afternoon light, it was the pie of my dreams. However, like all my pies, it was not picture perfect. My lattice crust had some gaps, and rolling out the dough was certainly a challenge. But after slicing and serving with vanilla ice cream, I didn’t hear a single complaint from my friends. No one minded that my crust wasn’t as perfect as Martha’s, or that I didn’t have any lemon juice to add to the apples. All they cared about was the taste and the effort that went into the pie.
Many people consider pie to be an unattainable holy grail of baking – too many challenges and chances for failure. But really, any pie that tastes delicious and makes people happy is no failure at all.
To find the recipe for the pie featured in this post, visit Martha Stewart's site!