Saturday, August 17, 2013

E-pie-log

When I started this adventure, I figured I'd have it wrapped up with the first version or three. How could I have known the challenges I'd encounter? I mean, I know how to bake pie! I know how to make filling! Hah! What I don't know could, and probably will, fill volumes. Each problem met and overcome led to another. And another. Every time I thought I'd be producing "the best batch yet", some element would refuse to cooperate. True, it would be "the best batch yet," but something would keep the recipe and process from gelling.

Even the latest batch (I don't know if it's v9.1 or v10.0 or v11 because I've lost count) isn't quite there. It truly is my best yet, because I've solved the filling wetness problem by doing a longer reduction, but it has problems. I'm still rolling my crusts a bit too thin sometimes. I'm still having trouble gauging filling amounts. I'm still finessing baking times. And I'm still learning how to deal with our recalcitrant oven.

However, with every challenge I met, I gained an ounce or two of confidence and a pound of humility at what I had yet to learn. I don't think any baking project has pushed my admittedly pedestrian skills, tasked my instincts, and tested my patience more than this one has. Consequently, I've been the most proud of the results. The latest batch made me so happy! I made a couple dozen (I can't seem to make any fewer than twelve): cherry, apple, and peach. I took eight to Portland as a house gift for the visit with my brother-in-law and his family. I was amazed at how well they traveled in my carry-on, with absolutely no padding. Not a single crust got smushed. Everyone enjoyed them immensely!

I decided to experiment with freezing the rest of the pies, because what would a homemade Hostess fruit pie be if it couldn't stand up to freezing for later consumption? My folks used to buy bunches of them from one of the Hostess stores and put them in our deep freezer. They were inexpensive, kept for months, and made great additions to our brown bagged school lunches. So, I wrapped each of the remaining pies in plastic wrap, placed them in a freezer bag and popped them in the freezer.

Ready to freeze!
 Almost two weeks later, I pulled one out, let it thaw in the refrigerator and then sampled it:

I think I've got it!
The crust was still flaky and the filling was still moist enough. The icing even had those weird sort of condensation markings in it that I remember from my school lunches! I'm going to call this project a success! And it's light years beyond what Hostess ever sold!

By the (estimated) numbers: twenty pounds of cherries (and counting), four pounds of peaches, five pounds of apples, at least twelve batches of pie dough, somewhere over one hundred (give or take a few) pies, and three different trips to the post office and one cross-country flight to give away tests and samples. 

My life is, indeed, a bowl of cherries!

Currently listening to: The Dramatics, Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get

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2 comments:

  1. By George I think he got it!!!
    Looks delicious!
    Love your adventures!

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    1. Gert! I got independent confirmation this past weekend via a quick trip to San Antonio. I took a box of twenty-five pies with me and my two sisters, my father, my brother-in-law, nieces, and two long-time friends all pronounced them quite good! I am one happy baker!

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