Quitting your job is tough. It requires bravery, confidence, and a certain element of total insanity. We all want to be happy. We strive for this happiness every day, for our entire lives. And since we spend the majority of those days working at some form of profession, it’s got to be an enjoyable one. I’m a firm believer in taking chances and going after what you want, even if you’re not quite sure what that is. But this is no simple feat and can often lead to bouts of insecurity (financially and emotionally…double whammy). Solution? Unemployment! Well, not exactly. But pie, definitely pie.
Not only have I recently treaded this daunting path, but a friend of mine also took the job-quitting leap a few days ago, and for that I thought he deserved a little confectionery treat in the form of Martha’s Peach, Apricot and Cherry Pie…
Despite the saying, nothing is as easy as pie. Not even pie. My beautiful discs of pâte brisée quickly turned from friend to foe when I attempted to roll out the bottom crust. I’m pretty sure I didn’t add enough water to the dough, so it was a bit on the hard and crumbly side. My first attempt to roll out the crust greatly resembled the land mass known as Pangea, before all the continents had the courtesy to separate for us.
From my years of watching The Food Network and observing Martha at the show, I picked up on the fact that the more you handle pie dough, the worse off you are. Something about the butter melting and the flour getting over worked makes for tough, crumbly, icky pie dough. I was perched on a pie dough precipice — do I toss out my not so great dough and start, quite literally, from scratch? Or do I, in the immortal words of the great Tim Gunn, “Make it work”? I chose the latter. So I added some water to the crumbly mass and worked it out until it became malleable. After a quick rest in the fridge, I had a much more pie-friendly dough that was soft and rollable.
Thank God for my can-do spirit or we would not have had any pie. Then again, maybe I would have just had a melt down and my roommate would have come home to me crying on the floor covered in flour, beating myself over the head with a rolling pin. Not pretty. But speaking of pretty! Check out this lovely home-made pie crust nestled into its new glass pie plate home just waiting to become a vessel for an abundant pile of tasty fruits…
Miracles can happen. In pie form. Next stop — FRUIT! The filling is quite simple and really only requires a rough chop for the peaches and apricots. The cherries just need to be stemmed, pitted, and halved. Again, relatively easy, but a little on the monotonous side. I started to go kind of crazy by the last cherry, hovering over the sink with my red-stained fingers gripping a chef’s knife. See? Crazy. Once prepped, the fruit gets a little added sweetness with the help of sugar and lemon juice.
The fruit mixture takes on a delightfully goopy form once all the sugar and liquid has been added. The longer it sits, the goopier it gets. Goopy is definitely a good thing though, when it comes to fruit pies. Fortunately, I needed the time to figure out how to turn my less-than-stellar pie dough into long, even strips for the lattice top. Another challenge.
We’ll call the look I went for “rustic”. I love throwing around the word rustic. It is like a culinary get out of jail free card. “Oh the edges are supposed to look like that, it’s rustic.” “The top is supposed to be all burned and charred…it’s rustic.” Very handy adjective to utilize. Since I couldn’t roll the dough out very much, I was restricted as to the length of my lattice strips. Some are short, some are fat, but they managed to cover the pie just fine. Before the pie can get fitted for its little lattice hat, the filling must be dotted with butter like flecks of paint in a Pointillism masterpiece.
The butter will melt during the baking process and add its buttery goodness to the increasing amount of deliciousness in this pie. Now we lock in all that tasty fruit with the makeshift lattice top. I let the lattice cool in the fridge a bit so it retained its shape when I slid it onto the pie. It certainly wasn’t perfect (and definitely did NOT resemble the full page photo in Martha’s handbook), but it was quite impressive nonetheless.
I fidgeted with the mismatched strips until they were as even as possible. Then with a paring knife, trimmed the excess scraps and crimped the edges with a fork dipped in egg wash. This was starting to look like a real, honest-to-goodness, quit your job and walk out the front door PIE!
Last, but not least, the lattice top gets brushed with a little more egg wash and dusted with sugar for that extra sparkle and crunch. I was one preheated oven away from a pie I could practically picture cooling on a window sill in an old-fashioned farmhouse.
The baking process went well, but I should have stuck with my gut right there at the end. I’d maxed out the baking time and the crust looked perfectly gold brown and all crystally from the sugar. However, when I slid the pie out of the oven…it CRASHED TO THE FLOOR in a split second metaphor for my career! Haha. No! This did not happen. But that would have been hilarious…and sad. When I slid the pie out of the oven, the juices looked a little thin and not quite as thickened and bubbly as they should be. In hindsight I should have covered the pie with foil to protect the crust and left it in for a few more minutes. But it was beautiful and I’m impatient, so I took it out and let it cool.
But the taste! Oh the taste! This was one damn good slice of pie and worth every challenge and mishap along the way. Maybe this pie is a metaphor for our careers after all. Things don’t always go as planned, in fact they rarely do. But when faced with a difficult choice, or a crumbly pie crust, you’ve got to be able to hold your own and believe in yourself. It’s scary, and for my friend and me – we know first hand. But eventually, you will reap the fruits of your labor.