Do I ever have a story to tell? I won’t lie. I am totally embarrassed about what happened, but I don’t take myself so seriously that I can’t laugh at my own silly mistakes. I get really hard on myself when I make little mistakes or when something I make isn’t perfect (even though I know it takes a long time to master culinary technique). When I have a huge flop, I just can’t help but laugh. It is in those moments that I remember that no dish is the end of the world. It is just food, and food is meant to be eaten, not hung in a museum.
After our pies class back in early October, I swore that I would make an apple pie for Thanksgiving. The pie turned out great, and I felt I understood the technique. Well, fast-forward nearly two months. It has been so long time since our pies class. We have had so many new techniques thrown at us over the past several weeks. Pies class feels so long ago. I had to go over my notes to trigger memories of what we did in class.
I made my pie dough just like Chef Jim Dodge showed us. As I was doing it, I felt confident in my maneuvers. I wrapped the dough and put it in the fridge to rest until I was ready to finish my pie.
I started getting so frustrated with myself. I knew I could make this pie. I made a great pie back in October (though it is a lot easier to execute when the skilled pastry chef and writer of the recipe is standing feet from you). Still, I wanted to make a pie that would live up to the hype of my first visit home after going away for my culinary program. I didn’t want to disappoint everyone. Though, it seemed I was the only one disappointed. After all, pies are hard to make and this was only my second time making an apple pie (well technically third but you get that point). Perfection doesn’t happen without much practice.
With great struggle and some assistance from my Uncle Dave, the bottom crust was rolled out and shaped into the pie pan (not beautifully, but it was there). The bottom crust was a little easier, since it had more time sitting on the counter and was therefore more malleable.
I added the filling and topped the pie with the top crust. I did my egg white wash and sprinkled the top with sugar. My crimping work was certainly not the greatest, but this is meant to be a rustic pie. I popped the pie in the oven to bake.
By this time, everyone else in the house had gone to bed. I was downstairs alone waiting for my pie to bake. While the pie was baking, I started on the bread dough I was going to use to make dinner rolls for Thanksgiving dinner, so it could ferment overnight. Eventually, the pie was done baking. The crust looked just right. I was actually quite pleased with how the pie turned out. I placed the pie on top of the oven to cool, turned off the oven, and then finishing cleaning before going to bed.
Let’s flash forward to after our Thanksgiving dinner. It was time for dessert. My mom was the first to cut into the pie. I stood by her side, because I wanted to see how it turned out. As she is lifting the piece of pie out of the pan, I see that the bottom crust is very dark…actually it is black! This crust was so badly burnt that it looked like charcoal.
The look on my face must have conveyed the mix of shock and confusion that I was experiencing. My first thought was, “I burned my pie!” followed by, “wait, how did I burn the pie so badly when the top looks fine?”
The good news is that everyone liked my pie (well, the non burnt parts). Actually, my dad ate the burnt parts, so they did not go to waste. I also learned a valuable lesson about double checking all your burners are off and maybe deciding to put the baked pie on the counter instead of on top of the oven.
I hope that everyone who celebrates Thanksgiving had a lovely day and didn’t burn their pies. I thought I would share my epic failure to remind us all that we all make mistakes sometimes. Just laugh them off. This is just one meal, and we are supposed to exhibit gratefulness for how our lives our, not pretend to be perfect.