Apple pie, and the lost art of baking

apple-pie

When I went to the store this afternoon in search of the perfect ingredients to make my perfect apple pie, I was youthfully optimistic this was going to turn out okay. I’ve never made an applie pie before, but how hard can it be? I wasn’t even going to attempt a top crust, and we bought pre-made pie dough (you roll it out, but don’t actually make the dough) so I didn’t even have to make a pie dough, which is notoriously difficult, even under the best circumstances.

Boy, was I ever wrong. Poor Joe spent the better part of half an hour chopping apples, and that crumb topping is going to haunt me for a very long time. Everything has to be ice cold, and there was a second there I thought our oven was on fire. We can’t even try it for another 45 minutes, and I’m sitting here having a legit panic attack it isn’t going to be good.

We’re supposed to bring an apple pie for Thanksgiving dinner in like two weeks, and I don’t want to mess it up, so of course there is an extra level of AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! on top of it all. I am a perfectionist, it’s why I’m usually good at baking, so the fact that my pie is ugly is making me twitchy. But for better or worse, I’ve made my first apple pie. And while I wish it looked like the perfect apple pie above, I know I’ll get better with practice.

And that is the beauty of baking. Follow the recipe, and eventually you’ll fine tune your skills enough to get it perfect, and then it will just come to you naturally. I can bake cookies in my sleep, but there was a time (many moons ago, far more than I’d like to admit) when every batch came out either burnt to a crisp or undercooked. I’ve gotten so good at it, I don’t even set a timer anymore, I can smell when they’re done. But that is because I’ve made a thousand batches of cookies in multiple ovens at different elevations.

I’m not sure where I was going with this, part of me just wanted to rant about my not so perfect pie, but then it morphed into something else. I know a lot of people are intimidated by baking, and as we’re coming upon the holiday season, many people go the store bought or boxed route, and I’m hoping that by admitting, as a seasoned baker, that I don’t always get it right, you’ll be encouraged to try your hand at baking. Give it a couple of test runs (like I will with my pie before Thanksgiving), and give yourself a break. Nine times out of ten, the flavors will be there, even if it doesn’t look perfect. And even if it doesn’t look pretty, it will taste a million times better than anything you can buy in store.

And before you ask, no there is no photographic evidence of the monstrosity currently sitting on my counter, nor will there be 😀

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