09 February 2011

A Tragedy in Three Acts

If you ever wondered where baking and Scots poetry intersected, look no further. This weekend's comedy of errors certainly had me thinking of old Robbie Burns:
The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men/
Gang aft agley,/
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain

So, my best-laid scheme was to bake three pies and take them to the Super Bowl party at church. All of the pies had some type of topping (two meringues and a whipped cream), so I didn't want to make them too far in advance. I needed a few things from the store - graham crackers, heavy cream, more eggs - so I asked Tiffany to stop at the store on Saturday night on her way home from work.

Tragedy #1 - She forgot to stop at the store and it was already 10:30 at night. So, I decided to cancel one pie (the Vanilla Cream with a graham cracker crust), because I wouldn't have enough time Sunday afternoon to put everything together - it cools for 3+ hours.

Down to two pies. No problem. I stopped at the store on the way home from church Sunday to get coconut, eggs, and cornstarch, then to home to assemble ingredients and start the filling for the Original Coconut Cream Pie.

So nice of Argo to color-coordinate with my dishes.

Tragedy #2 - The Pie Assassin opened the cupboard and... dropped a bowl on my All-Shortening Crust! As you know from our last episode, I had enough trouble getting this crust baked, and now it lay shattered on the counter. Good thing I had more dough made up. A quick roll-out and bake-up, and a spare crust (Basic Flaky this time) later, we were back in business.

The recipe (from Mrs. Rowe's little book) calls to cook the milk-cornstarch-egg-sugar mixture over a double boiler until thickened, about four minutes. I don't have a formal double boiler, but I figured a glass bowl over a saucepan would work just fine.

I doubt my jury-rigged double boiler was the reason, but half an hour later, the filling still hadn't thickened. Tragedy #3 - PIE FAIL! At this point, I was running out of time, so I just dumped the filling in the shell (it was REALLY full), floated the meringue on top (yes, floated; the filling was too liquid to be able to spread out the meringue), and stuck it in the oven.

White coconut, white meringue, whitish filling - anyone else ready for cherry pie?

My hope was that the filling would solidify as it cooked. It did - sort of. The very edges firmed up to a custard-like consistency, but the majority of the pie was still soup. The cooked meringue bobbed on top of the pie when pressed - not really what I was going for.

That's some puffy meringue!

Now, don't get me wrong - the filling tasted wonderful. Rich and coconutty, as I would expect from a coconut cream pie. But the texture was definitely not correct. The overall concept has promise, and I like coconut cream pie too much to abandon it, so I think I'll try again, but over direct heat this time. Mrs. Rowe, I'm not ready to give up on you yet!

Next time - The Pie Who Loved Me

1 comment:

  1. See, I'm so discombobulated, I've forgotten what I wrote about. The previous post doesn't say anything about baking the crusts; in fact, it seems to imply that the all-shortening crust is superior to the basic flaky.

    It's not.

    The shortening crust was a pain to roll out, cracking and tearing and sticking to everything. The thing looked like a jigsaw puzzle when I finally got it into the pan.

    Compared side-by-side with the Basic Flaky crust, the shortening crust was thinner and didn't cover the pan as well. With the BF, I actually had enough left over from the edge scraps to give Isaac his own dough to roll out and line a mini tart pan (perhaps a future post?).

    I've got one more All-Shortening dough ball in the freezer, but unless something radically changes, I think I'll stick with the Basic Flaky.