Making the Imperfect Pie

Once upon a time I baked a lot. Just ask anyone—my daughter, my husband, and those friends who got cookies and shortbread and cake during the holidays, even my co-workers. Most of the time it was from scratch. I did defer to Betty and the Doughboy when it came to cakes, but everything else was homemade, even the brownies…and the pie crust. My mom’s favorite crust recipe…who knows how old…but with shortening rather than lard. I don’t doubt lard was an original ingredient but, well, modern times and all that.
Times change. Hours get crowded, becoming shorter and shorter until there doesn’t seem enough time to do anything “from scratch”. The last few pies I made? Spur of the moment blackberry chocolate chip (followed by raspberry chocolate chip) nested in a crust from Pillsbury…fast, easy, and fine. But today…I did it the old fashioned way!
Our local orchard is awash with apples, William’s Pride, Zestar, Honeycrisp, and more to come. My crisper is full. So…on this fine morning I got up determined to make the perfect pie crust for the perfect apple pie. Who knew?
First I couldn’t put my hands on my recipe box. Noooooooooooooo! It wasn’t where I’d put it (where did I put it and when did I use it last?). After lamenting the clutter of cookbooks and containers that seemed to have multiplied overnight and vowing to attack the offending objects to “clear the decks”, I finally found it and the crust instructions. Followed them to the letter and put the crust to rest as directed. Time to peel, core and slice those apples. And cook up the sugar/flour/butter mixture that pours over those slices. Forgot to time the resting period for the crust (15 minutes per Mom) and viola, it was dry. Never fear, a few sprinkles of water and it was malleable again, although I did have to patch a place or two when it went into the pie can. While rolling out the crust, I noticed that my “syrup” was more a “slush”. Forgot the water…added the water, brought it back to a boil and then stirred. A lot. Sprinkled cinnamon over the apples, piled them high in the bottom crust and rolled out the top…larger than the bottom because I had this mound of apples, right? Poured some of the syrup on the apples, placed the crust over the fruit…and had to stretch it so I could crimp those edges (my mom’s were always perfect…sigh). Barely crimp those edges…another sigh. But….into the oven it went, the rest of the syrup glazed on top.425F for 15 minutes (I did the dishes) and 350F for the remaining 50. (I remembered to put a cookie sheet under the pan in case it dripped. It did.)
My imperfect pie is sitting on a cooling rack, the glaze a light brown and a bit spotty but a glaze nonetheless. My husband the pie lover said “Looks perfect!” I look at it and wonder why I didn’t quite get the pretty outside, until I realize it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Next time I’ll pay more attention to the timing, but the satisfaction I get from seeing something “made from scratch” gives me a good feeling.
Apple pie
Life is like that. It may not always be perfect, but it’s the sum of the ingredients and the care that’s taken to put them together that counts. I can’t wait for the pie to cool. Vanilla ice cream is on the shopping list for my husband, but I think I’ll like it just as it is.


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