There is something about a pie that just makes me feel good. Beautiful flaky crust, sky high meringue or whipped cream topped, pie is an amazing dessert. Fruit pies, custard pies, cream pies, hand pies; they are all wonderful.
My relationship with pie, however, is a Love/Hate one. As much as I love pie, it is the bane of by baking existence.
Okay, maybe that is a bit of an over dramatic description, but I have the worst time with pies. And it’s not a specific thing, like trouble with the crust; it’s the whole process.
Even when the crust turns out flaky and wonderful, the filling doesn’t set. Or I have a wonderfully set lemon curd, and the meringue weeps. I just can’t win.
And, of course, my pie dysfunction extends to cobbler. My grandmother Frances (of cinnamon roll fame) made the most amazing peach cobbler. The crust was sweet and crunchy, with a fresh peach filling that tasted like a warm summer day.
For years I asked her for the recipe. And for years, I never got the recipe. So I bought frozen cobbler and served to my family with more than a little shame. What was so wrong with me that I cannot make even a simple cobbler?
Fast forward to the summer of 2009 at my nephews wedding. Sitting with Grandma Frances at a picnic table, in a park, in a small town in southeastern Colorado. I was just beginning my official journey into the world of pastries by enrolling for the pastry arts program at a school in Las Vegas. I mentioned that maybe I would be able to make a pie after going to pastry school.
This struck my grandmother as very funny. “Kelley, you don’t have to go to school to learn to make pie, you have seen me do it”. I very gingerly asked her again for her peach cobbler recipe, and with a genuine look of shock, she replied “Just sink the crust”.
It was then that my cobbler life changed. I have to admit, it was a pretty anticlimactic change. The sky did not open to reveal a host of Heavenly beings singing Hallelujah, the earth did not tremble. No visible indication that I had just received the secret I had been asking for.
But there it was, the answer to one of the secrets of my universe, “just sink the crust”. Of course I couldn’t wait to have an excuse to make a cobbler. Who am I kidding, absolutely no-one needs an excuse to make cobbler. And every time it is perfect. Tender peaches, with just the right amount of syrup-y goodness. covered in that crispy, sweet crust. It is delicious, but still not quite the same as Grandmas.
Grandma would have been 97 years old on May 5th this year, and I know, without a doubt, that she is shaking her head every time I make a cobbler, and laughing as I “just sink the crust”.