I am not sure how I can describe the joy I feel as I write this post! What is the special occasion? I finally baked my first pie...ever! Because fall is everywhere else (except here in the tropics) my Canadian soul craves for apple filled, cinnamony, and nutmegy things. As a result, I decided to ignore this Caribbean heat and slave away in the kitchen to make a pie. I've always loved pies but the opportunity (or the effort) to learn always seemed to pass me by due to the fact that I lived close to a great bakery in Montreal that provided opportunities in excess for me to satisfy my sweet tooth.
Then, when I moved to a small town in Tennessee, my pie obsession grew and I thought to myself "with all these great bakers around me I will surely learn how to bake some goodies." Alas, it did not happen. So, after contemplating the idea during the summer I decided that this Fall I would teach myself to bake a pie. I had these moviesque visions of how it would be: Flour flying in my sunbathed kitchen as I prepared to roll my perfect crust mix with my beautiful new rolling pin (one that I still did not own until the day before). I looked forward to the great smell of a still-undetermined flavor filling up the whole house. Just an overall baking utopia. However, I had also heard countless times that a pie crust was hard to nail and just the idea of not getting it right and wasting all that time made this "pie crust virgin" a little intimidated not to mention the fact that our oven is sometimes only semi-functional. I feared that I would put all this work into something that could potentially turn into a disaster and I wasn't sure that my heart could take it. Now I know it's not that serious, but for some reason I acted as if the queen of England was coming to dinner and I need to make her a perfect pie. No queen, no dinner, just my husband and I overly excited over dessert.
I decided to bake my pie on a day my husband would be home, that way I would at least have his moral support. After a careful research, I settled on this Vegan Apple Pie recipe that I adapted. After buying all the ingredients, I realized that I was still missing a pan and a rolling pin so I sent my husband on the hunt. Being the supportive husband that he is, he not only bought what I asked but he got a little carried away and bought me a high-end, ceramic rolling pin (he said it should last long enough for our grandchildren to use as well), a pan and he even got me a very useful and practical baking mat. It's wonderful because it has all the measurements and metric conversions that this Canadian sometimes needs, a diagram showing how far I should roll the crust according to the size of the different pie pans. Basically, it was a perfect beginner's tool for a pie rookie like me.
The big day
That morning, after putting my hair in my legendary "Val-bun", like my friends call it, I laid out all my ingredients on my huge dinning table. Armed with tutorials on three different gadgets, I got to work. There was defintely flour everywhere, however, it was not as glorious as I had imagined.
I learned that there are 2 important secrets to a good crust: chilled chunks of butter and small amounts of iced water that you spoon into the mixture gradually. I mixed the dry ingredients and when the time came to press the butter unto the flour, I became unsure of what that meant. It was probably the excitement of it all that was making my vocabulary knowledge a bit cloudy. I panicked and frantically looked for a youtube tutorial in which I could get a 101 level course of how to do it.
Note that I had to make dough for the crust twice, because the first batch was crumbly and worked perfectly for the bottom crust but did not roll well for me to put on the top part. I faced the setback with courage and grace and decided to start the whole process again and make a second one, which by the way, came out perfect (and yes, I did my happy dance, the same one I do when I get snail mail).
After I decided on the recipe I would follow, it became obvious that I would use apples for the filling. I mean, I'm such a beginner that I wasn't even sure which way to cut the apples. Thanks to the beautiful pictures from the recipe I followed, I was able to quickly figure it out. From the couch my assistant (AKA husband) cheered me on, and passed by from time to time to take pictures of the process and judging from all the apples wedges that he snuck around to eat, (wedges I was keeping for the filling) it was good.
A few minutes after I finished the pie and it was finally in the oven, my mother-in-law sends a text asking if I had put an egg in my glaze. For a split second I panicked again because I was like "oh no" I missed an ingredient, but then I remembered that my pie was 100% vegan, so no eggs! When the time came to put the glaze on the pie, my husband was overly excited so he offered to help me apply it. He dealt with our crazy oven, getting it to work perfectly and kept a close watch on it during the whole cooking process to make sure it behaved as it should. He truly is the cutest assistant ever!
Unfortunately, we weren't able to eat our pie right after it cooled because we had a special event that evening that we had to attend. So after a beautiful night, we came back and shamelessly enjoyed a big piece of pie. All the work that is put into that pie becomes worth it the minute you take that first bite. Yesterday, on National Coffee Day I savored a piece of pie with my morning coffee and wondered why I waited so long to do this.
Just like pie, some things in life need to be dreamt of first, but we also need to take a step towards making them a reality. A dream without any action will always only stay a dream. So today I encourage you, to take ONE step towards your goal (even if it's clumsy and imperfect like my pie) and tomorrow take another one and just keep going.
There you have it! The tale of the my clumsy but rewarding baking beginnings. XOXO