Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pumpkin Pie My Oh My

Pumpkin pie is good. Ok, pumpkin pie is great. I made my first pumpkin pie this year for Thanksgiving. Correction, it was my first ever solo pie-making attempt. I don’t have any pictures of the thing because quite frankly, when it came out of the oven I dismissed it to the ugly gods to handle. Something along the lines of, “well, it’ll probably taste good” was uttered.

Along the way I struggled during the “pre-cooking” phase of the pie crust. The darned edges started to sink down the sides of the pan! I tried to fix it, by taking crust from the top edge, leaving my pie a hobbled, and nearly burned, mess on top. During this pre-cooking process I also burned my finger and forearm on the oven. Yes, in a fit of unbridled baking frustration, one becomes uncoordinated and is prone to burns. This also includes yelling at loved-ones to “Get out!” of the kitchen. Ahem…well, maybe that doesn’t apply to you but that’s apparently what happens to me.

Once wounds were licked and the Thanksgiving feast was had, the end result was fantastic. The pie filling was light, flavorful, and perfectly cooked. The parts of the crust that remained were light, flakey, mostly not-overcooked, and buttery. Jeffrey paired it with homemade eggnog spiked with spice, brandy, and love (the secret ingredient). And yes, I can be sappy because it’s Thanksgiving! In a word, the two in combination knocked dessert out of the park.

In the spirit of “pies are too much trouble” I do have an alternate dish I prepared the week before of which I do have photos. If you’re a fan of crème brulee or pumpkin pie you will surely love this recipe I picked up from the November issue of Bon Appetit. It was a snap to make and wound up with the flavor of pumpkin pie and a very similar texture. The best part is, there’s no crust to fuss with. Make it extra decadent JTK-style and put a dollop of whipped cream on it.

Though this delicate pumpkin custard is a close-second, it wasn’t the same indulgence of crust-perched richness that is pumpkin pie. If it weren’t for that and my inability to pass up a challenge, I might give up on pumpkin pie in the future. There’s something about making pies that has me no doubt returning again. Pie forces me to deal with my desire for perfection when I’m cooking. Sure perfection helps drive toward a great performance, but a mere pie is not worth burn scars and overblown stress. I can learn a little bit of “ohmmmm” and a whole lot of future yumminess by mastering a great tasting AND good looking crust….and if I don’t…who cares?!

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