How NOT To Make Pie

“easy as pie” they always say.

As if.

Pie, as it turns out, it no easier (or more difficult) than any other baking.

I should know. I can make bagels and fry churros and bake the meanest cornbread you’ve ever eaten.

But this year, I decided to attempt the unknown and bake a down-home, domesticated apple pie for my pie-loving Valentine.

It started out fine.

And then it failed. Pretty dismally.

Because I am a pelican of self-sacrifice [and because I love you], I am going to tell you what not to do.

Sigh, I sometimes feel my kitchen motto should be I learn the hard way so you don’t have to.

Here is a very important list of things to bear in mind, should you to attempt to bake your own package of pastry-fied love:

1. Use a pie tin

It may seem redundant but really, un-pie-shaped pie is much, much harder to make. It’s like they’ve ergonomically engineered pies and pie tins. Don’t second guess generations of grannies. Suck it up and buy one.

I have a springform cheesecake shaped pie on my counter right now. The straight-up sides meant a kamikaze challenge to get the apples in before the edges toppled over and crumpled in. Plus, I mastered some very odd pastry origami to get it to bend round the edges evenly.

It was an epic pie filling effort people, EPIC.

Let the pan do the work for you. Save your energies for the devouring.

2. Make sure you have all the ingredients before you start (or be willing to live with the consequences)

This is, far and away, the best pastry method I’ve ever come across. The rolling pin strategy is genius.

And if you can’t get buttermilk, it turns out regular works just fine. Though, I am sure it would have added an extra loveliness to the dough.

3. Roll the dough to the bare minimum width you can get away with and still get it to cover the lip of your pan

Thin crust is the enemy. Though in this case the unwanted thinness is probably because getting a pie crust to cover a 9″ pie pan is a very different job that stretching it to go up and over the sides of a deep dish 9″ springform. (refer to point#1).

If I was a whiz at three-dimensional geometry I’d tell you how much this change in pastry surface area affected the thickness of my dough, but if I was a geometry whiz I probably wouldn’t have ended up in this situation.

Also, thin pie crust gets soggy and lame.

4. Read all the directions before you start an action (or 3A – failing that, improvise with panache)

While this goes for any recipe, here it was especially problematic.

Put crumble on a pie. What could be so hard about that?

My baking hubris was to be my undoing.

I put the crumble on the pie before cutting in the butter. I pretty much just poured a pile of sugar and oats onto the pie, and it seeped in every crevasse of the apple mountain like sand through an hourglass before I could scoop it back off.

A moment of sheer oversight. To be fair, I was also making a roast beast at the time, so I could be forgiven for absent-mindedness. And of all the things to screw up in a roast dinner, pouring a pile of sugar and oats on a pie is a minor failing indeed.

I will say however, that dotting the top of a pie with lumps of butter as you would roast vegetables (which seemed my best option at the time), makes a melty treat I never could have dreamt up even if I had tried.

Imagine pie basted in caramel and you’re half way there. It was literally ambrosial.

5. Let it cool down

Sure, you want to stick your face right in the pie the second it comes out of the oven. It smells so good! It bubbles so enticingly!

Even if you suffer second degree burns for your efforts, it will seem worth while. We all know that pain.

But hear me now; if you rupture the structural integrity of your lovely pastry shell the gooey insides will run all over the place, making the seconds and thirds you’ll be having later much harder to serve in tact. Or scoop with fingers. Let it congeal a little. You’ll thank me for it.


The pie was, in many ways, an utter disaster. It is also deeply, deeply ugly.

I had no idea I was such a pie snob, but there you go. Just another excuse to slather it with ice cream  I guess.

It was also indescribably delicious.

That bastardized caramel sauce? The accidental deep-dish action? The runny, runny centre of crumble infused apples?

Honestly. Real pie might not as good as my monster mutant creation.


While I’m not giving up on honing my pie-making skills, I can honestly say doing it wrong is damn fine eating.

Maybe that’s the real secret of pie.

Which ever way you cut it, it’s still a big pile of sugary butter, baked until warm and gooey.

Even at its worst, what’s not to love?

2 Responses to “How NOT To Make Pie”
  1. serasara says:

    I like to hope my domestic failings can be both informative and entertaining!


  2. Anika says:

    That pie was amazingly ugly. And I’m sure it was the most delicious pie in history. Love this post!


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