Monday, February 28, 2011
I'm Done With Pies
That's it. I give up. I'm quitting pies. I've tried and I've tried, but I just don't like making pies. I've taken classes on pies, I've practiced making pies, and I still get frustrated. The effort to result ratio is way too high, plus the results are never certain until you cut into the pie.
This past weekend we celebrated two birthdays. For birthdays I am always happy to make a cake, tailored to the tastes of the birthday boy or girl. When asked what they wanted, both birthday boys, independent of each other, requested pie. Sigh.
To accomodate the tastes of all involved (ie, my husband hates peaches), I made two pies - one peach, one apple. I started out two days ahead of time because the pie dough has to be made then chilled. I carefully went through all the required steps, cutting in the butter till pea-sized (no shortening here, all good butter), carefully adding the ice water a bit at a time, chilling the dough disks, rolling out, filling, baking.
I suspect the baking time was the problem. The pies had different baking temperatures and times. And by the time I got the final pie in the oven it was bedtime. My sweet husband volunteered to stay up and babysit the pies. Then when I heard the timer beep I sat bolt upright in bed, remembering that I'd forgotten to turn the oven temp up for the second pie. I ran into the kitchen, cranked the temp, and set the timer for another 15 minutes, hoping for the best.
Well, if hopes were dollars, we'd all be millionaires, right?
The pies looked beautiful, resting on the counter. The birthday boys eyed them appreciatively as they arrived. But looks alone don't make a good pie. When we cut into them, we had.....sigh....pie soup. So disappointing. Everyone said it tasted fine, but this was a polite group. The final word came when I sent some leftover pie home with my sister. Her report? "The peaches were good, but the pie crust was...eh. Tasted flat, like you forgot the salt."
Now, understand that I really do appreciate honest feedback. I can't improve unless I get those kind of comments. But knowing that I'd served bland pie soup to a birthday boy was the final straw. If you want a birthday cake, call me. If you want pie, go to Marie Calendar's.
(My family isn't panicking about this edict. They're confident I'll forget all about it by Thanksgiving, and will take on three different kinds of pies, just to make everyone happy. We'll see.)
You might have already noticed the lack of pie pictures here today. I was so angry at the pies, I refused to take their pictures. So, instead, I give you the cake I made for Valentine's Day. Yes, the layers did slide a bit as I frosted it. Yes, it was a bit on the sweet side. But at least it wasn't a pie!
Raspberry Chocolate Cake
- adapted from Taste of Home
3 cups sugar
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup baking cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1-1/4 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup canola oil
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups strong brewed coffee, room temperature
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons milk
9 tablespoons butter, softened
3 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons raspberry liqueur
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 drops red food coloring, optional (I didn't use it)
4 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam, melted
1 package (8 ounces) cold cream cheese
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1 tablespoon raspberry liqueur
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1- Butter three 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper rounds. Butter the parchment paper. Dust the pans with baking cocoa. Preheat the oven to 350 deg. F with a rack in the center of the oven.
2- In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, baking cocoa, baking soda, salt, and baking powder.
2- In a separate bowl combine the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Add this mixture to the flour mixture.
3- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat for 2 minutes. Gradually add the cooled coffee (the batter will be thin.)
4- Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pans before removing to wire racks to cool completely. Peel off and discard the parchment paper.
5- For filling, in a small saucepan, whisk together flour and milk until smooth. Cook over medium heat for 1 minute or until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and let stand until cool.
6- In a large bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar and mix well. Gradually add cooled milk mixture; beat for 4 minutes or until light and fluffy. (It will look odd, but will eventually come together). Beat in liqueur, salt and food coloring if desired.
7- If the cake layers have domed, using a long, serrated knife, level the tops. Place one layer on a serving plate; spread with about 2 tablespoons jam. Spread one of the remaining layers with the remaining jam. Let stand for 30 minutes.
8 - Spread 1/2 cup filling over cake on the plate to within 1/4 in. of edges. Top with jam-covered layer, then spread with remaining filling. Top with remaining cake layer.
9- In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add in cocoa and liqueur. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy. Frost top and sides of cake.
(If at any point the cake starts sliding around, pop it in the refrigerator to firm up the filling.)
Store in the refrigerator.