This is a story of a pie. A pie in a beautiful bright red pie dish.
I've never made pie before. Hard to believe, but it's true. I'm not quite sure how it came to be this long before I attempted pie. It wasn't really about fear, because I've made pastry before with success. It wasn't even about lack of tools, because you can make pie in any ovenproof dish and I have several pyrex ones tucked away. But for some reason the dessert has eluded me. Until now.
There was a conspiring of events, as there often are when it comes to me attempting a new recipe. First was a conversation between N and myself about the seasons changing and how it would soon be time for warming hearty food. Pie came up and I learned that N was a fan. How could he not be in fact, warm fruits, spices and pastry. What's not to love.
Then the second thing happened: Mum pointing out that Lakeland, home of all things a domestic goddess doesn't even know she needs, has a website. Disaster! Before I knew it two hours had passed and I had perused every page of the site, sometimes going back to pages for a second or third look. It's a good thing my credit card was in the other room and that I was pinned down on the sofa by the cat, otherwise the damage could have been very widespread indeed.
On one of the pages was a pie dish. A bright red pie dish with a fluted edge. It was beautiful, it was perfect and it was screaming out to join my kitchen and force me to make pie. And so the Lakeland fairy visited whilst we were on holiday (thank you Mum) and suddenly the means to make pie were there. It was like a challange.
But with a dish that sexy it couldn't be any old pie. Oh no, I wanted it to be the best pie ever, which was something of a high standard considering I've never made pie before. But I'd tackled the beast of jam making and overcome it, so I was feeling pretty confident.
Off I went to Smitten Kitchen to get the foolproof pie dough recipe. I could have used ordinary sweet shortcrust pastry, but no, this had to be special and everyone said this was the dough of all doughs. I had to do a bit of conversion work, and the amount of butter seemed very high (I used all butter, rather than a butter and shortening mix), but I decided just to go with it. For the filling? The epitome of autumn; apples and pears spiced with a mix of cinnamon, mixed spice, nutmeg and ginger.
See, see how beautiful that pie dish is? I don't deserve a pie dish that seductive. I filled the pastry case with the fruit, rolled out a nice thick top, placed it carefully over the fruit, cut slits for the steam to escape, and even made little leaves out of the left-over dough. A masterpiece.
Then disaster struck. I made the mistake of glancing in the oven while it was cooking. My perfect crust had sunk over the fruit and the shell had shrunk. NOOOOOOOOO! I had broken the perfect pie, I had failed the pie dish.
But all was not lost. There is a happy ending to the story, because despite it's rather rugged exterior, this pie was pretty on the inside, the fruits were delicately spiced and not too soft and the pastry turned out just right and didn't seem to have suffered despite the sinking.
I might fiddle with the ratios in the pastry using less fat next time, I might add more fruit to the filling next time, I might make the shell larger to prevent shrinkage next time, but the important thing is...there will be a next time. Oh yes, my pie making days are only just beginning, and there are a good five months of cold weather still to come.