Friday, November 27, 2015

Midweek Roundup: "A Learning Experience"

Photo by Rachel
Cooking and Thinking

"How am I supposed to choose a picture when some people baked cookies and some people baked pies?" asked Jim in querulous tones.  (He doesn't like it when I veer from the path, especially when it's a long path and a sudden veer).  As you know, this Pumpkin Pecan Pie was the baking project for the week, but I changed it when I suddenly realized that I'd assigned it too early for it to be made for Thanksgiving Day in the U.S.  Fearful that the Alpha Bakers were going to feed their guests stale pie, I made a quick shift to the Spritz Cookies.  But some of you had either already made the pie or had plans to do so, some of you aren't from the U.S. and don't care what day you eat a pumpkin/pecan pie, and one of you made both.  So I told him to pick whatever picture he wanted and then pick the other one for next week.  So the Spritz Cookie Photo of the Week will come next week.  

See that gorgeous piece of pie at the top of the page?  Rachel doesn't give herself enough credit.  From hearing her talk, you'd think she created a disaster:  "I pulled [the mixture] off the heat before I ended up with sugary scrambled eggs."  "My dish is not so deep, alas."  "The injuries I inflicted on the pumpkin."  "Clearly, I am still ascending the learning curve."  But wouldn't you be happy to be served that piece of pie?  I know I would, and I wouldn't ask the baker about her position on the learning curve.  

Kristina had already made the Pumpkin Pecan Pie.  For one thing, being Canadian, she had already celebrated "real" (i.e. Canadian) Thanksgiving last month.  For another, her husband is American, so they celebrate American Thanksgiving too, but they can do it any old day, and they certainly weren't going to do it on Thursday, a ridiculous time for a holiday dinner, in Kristina's opinion.  (Why is it on Thursday, you ask?  Like so many questions, no one knows the answer, except that George Washington and Abraham Lincoln both thought it should be on Thursday, and if two out of the four Mount Rushmore presidents were Thursday Thanksgiving fans, apparently that's good enough for the rest of us.  Also, having a big secular holiday too close to a Sunday might have irritated the Puritans, who were known to be easily irritated.)  Anyway, the P-P Pie was one of two that Kristina baked for her bi-national dinner, and she summed it up by saying "the whole thing is about all things that are delicious."  You can't do better than that, no matter what day of the week it is.

Vicki made the pie too, even though she celebrates American Thanksgiving.  Not having a deep-dish pie pan, she improvised with a springform pan, which seems to have worked pretty well, although she says she's going to brave the Black Friday crowds in order to pick up a deep-dish pan because "this is a repeat recipe."  Actually, Vicki got one of the highest compliments a cook can get:  the person who says "I don't usually like [fill in the blank], but this is good.  In this case, it was her son, who wanted to know what the caramel layer was.  His reply:  "But this is so freaking good, and I don't like pecan pie."  "The miracle of Muscovado and Lyle's Golden Syrup," says Vicki.  

Orin, being a fairly recent transplant, is relatively new to Thanksgiving.  But it didn't take her long to figure out that there are pumpkin pie people and pecan pie people, and rarely do the twain meet.  To Orin's taste, they're both too sweet and too one-note.  Rose's Pumpkin Pecan Pie solved both problems, combining two "most-loved pies into one."  Now all she has to do is convince the recalcitrant that it's a great idea to have two desserts in one.  

I have asked myself whether this is a Pecan Pumpkin Pie or a Pumpkin Pecan Pie.  I couldn't figure out which was the dominant flavor.  When I looked at Kim's pictures, I decided that it must be the pumpkin layer because her pecan layer was pretty slim.  Then, honest woman that she is, she confessed that she forgot to add the cream to the pecan mixture, which probably also accounted for the spreadability problem she encountered.  I think the cream omission was a Freudian slip, though, because Kim also confessed that, although the pecan layer was good, she "adored the pumpkin filling by itself with its delightful, soft set, milky feel.  It brought back a lot of kid memories."

So far, Katya has blogged only about the P-P Pie, but from following her on Facebook, I know that she's been on a baking spree of mammoth proportions.  In fact, I was so concerned that I looked up "binge baking" in the DSM-5 to make sure it wasn't a recognized psychiatric disorder.  (It's not).  But she finally came up for air (or, more accurately, for butter), and managed to write about the pie, which she described as  "essentially two fillings baked on top of one another in the same crust, a classic pumpkin pie on top of a classic pecan pie.  Not entirely necessary, but why not?"  "The one co-worker who has tried it so far ate a piece very quickly and announced, "That was great!"  

Although I made the switch from pie to cookies for the sake of American bakers, the two bakers who actually made the change are from Singapore and Darwin.

Faithy made the Spritz Butter Cookies because she had a lot of glaceed cherries left over from all the fruitcakes she's baking.  (Faithy loved the fruitcakes from Rose's Heavenly Cakes and makes vast quantities of them every year).  Since I had a hard time piping these cookies myself, I confess that I'm a little (maybe a lot) envious of Faithy's perfectly shaped round cookies, topped with either a red or a green cherry.  She really liked "how it is not as sweet and the sweetness comes from the glaced cherries."

We can always count on Catherine to increase our vocabularies.  First, she describes her cookies as "pretty if a little splodgy."  I have never heard of the word "splodgy" before, but now I want to use it all the time.  Second, she calls her cookies "biccies."  I also want to use that word, but if I offer people a biccie (biccy?), they won't know what I'm talking about.  Third, instead of topping her cookies, I mean biccies, with cherries, she used something called Jelly Tots.  In other words, she made splodgy biccies with jelly tots.  Do we really speak the same language?  Oh, about the cookies:  "the flavour is very nice, with a distinct almond taste, and the texture is soft with a slight crunch."  Nice!

For next week--well, your guess is as good as mine.  Technically, it's the pie, but it'll probably be another mix of pie and cookies.  The week after that is another pie--Posh Pie.  For a nanosecond, I toyed with the idea of making another switch so we wouldn't have two pies in a row, but I quickly came to my senses.  No more messing with the schedule!  And besides, Posh Pie is chocolate.  



  1. Great picture of a gorgeous slice of pie, Rachel! Fun write up, Marie. I vote with you on the vocab word "splody". It's right up there with Nicola's "faff". Kudos to you for doing a Round Up after a major holiday.

  2. Looks like great pie Rachel (not at all splodgy). Very funny post Marie, I particularly liked the reference to DSM for binge baking.