Easy as Pie

Fear of "pie-ing"?

I have recently been asked to make a pie for a friend's 70th birthday, and it got me thinking about how many are intimidated by making a pie from scratch. My mother was not a great cook, but pies were a different matter altogether. She made pies totally from scratch even in her upper 80s with on set of dementia and reduced eyesight. Easy as pie? Well, maybe. Read on and see if you are inspired!

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I wonder about the phrase 'easy as pie', because in the vernacular of my southern husband this is 'bull-tickey'. Pie is not all that easy. At least not, certainly, to a beginner and even an experienced baker will have the occasional difficulty.

Apparently the idiom comes from easy eating, not easy making. Really, this should be made more clear. It is misleading at best to advertise something as 'easy as pie'. It gives pie making a bad rap. Making a perfect pie can be challenging, and not just the crust. That lovely envelope of butter and flour, just flaky and light enough to hold the filling, with just the right subtle crunch to give contrast to the fruit or custard inside. The interior needs to stand on its own, not too runny, gooey or gluey. A perfect compliment to its housing. All in all a challenge, yes, but not insurmountable.

As with most things in life, there are choices. Some appropriate for the occasion or circumstance, some poor substitutes. A store bought crust, or one that was stamped out from a machine, folded and boxed, may be fine for a beginner, or a quick quiche or last minute community pot-luck offering. A can of pie filling may do in a pinch. Do not mistake these easy stand-ins for the awesome feeling and taste of making and eating the real thing. 

Very few can nail a challenge on the first go. Did you ace parallel parking on the first, second or third go? Did you learn to ride a bike without training wheels? You will gets lots of advice, and find myriad recipes. Lard? Butter? Shortening? Chill before filling? Pastry cutter? Food Processor? Try them all. Your trials and tribulations will not go unappreciated. Rarely, will even the most humble pie will be turned down. With ice cream, in a bowl, on a plate, or by itself straight up out of the pan- it will disappear in short order.

Even the most seasoned baker will tell you candidly that there are days when it just doesn't come together as well or as smoothly as other days.  Some say weather can be a factor, others may just decide the stars aren't aligned. It will, however, become easier. Life is like that. Take the challenge, learn from your mistakes, keep the faith and most of all remember that if at first you don't succeed, pie, pie again.

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