Monday, October 22, 2012

What's More Russian Than Apple Pie?

Um...EVERYTHING but apple pie, apparently.

 Wait. Let me back up.

Some weeks ago, I was reading the newspaper--specifically the Taste Section--when I came upon a recipe. First, you must know, that I am a sucker for nearly anything involving apples. I love apple crisp, apple dumplings, baked apples, apple danish, apple cake, caramel apples, and even though they contain absolutely no apples whatsoever, I enjoy the occasional handful of Apple Jacks cereal. But my hands-down favorite is apple pie. I absolutely love it, and come September am ready, fork in hand to have some. So when I saw the recipe for an apple pie that was ready in a hurry, I knew I had to give it a try.

This was my first mistake.

My next mistake was to make an assumption about the words "pie dish" in the recipe. Perhaps "pie dish" translated into Russian is "giant bowl the size of a turkey platter to catch all of the dough mixture that will overflow your normal size pie plate."(Yes, I keep saying "Russian." Now, I cannot be certain that the woman who submitted the recipe is Russian, but based on her Slavic sounding name, the blurb about her that was written above the recipe, and the fact that this turned out to be no more like regular apple pie than the 100 calorie packs of Oreo Thin Crisps are like Oreos, I'm going with the assumption.)

This recipe didn't call for a traditional crust--part of what appealed to me about the recipe. I enjoy pie crusts; love them actually. Could eat pie crust sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar like my mom used to give me when she baked when I was a little girl. Yum! But the fact that I didn't have to take time to roll out and chill the dough and whatnot, seemed like a bit of convenience that I could get behind. So I mixed the egg whites and the sugar and the egg yolks and the flour.


Then I scratched my head thinking, gee that seems like a lot of liquid for one pie plate. I'm not the best guesser when it comes to volume. The fact that I often start putting leftovers in a dish and then either have too much room left or have to switch to a bigger dish almost every. single. dinner. should be your first clue that my estimation of volume leaves something to be desired. But dude. When I say there was a LOT of liquid/crusty stuff I am not kidding. I poured it over my sliced apples per the directions and that's where the fun began.

Thinking that it would settle down into the apples I kept pouring. Mistake. Again. It never seemed to settle down into my apples and just kept wanting to run over the sides of my pie plate. It was like trying to catch ice cream drips from a cone on a hot day. I'm glad no one was in the kitchen to see me. It was like trying to juggle. Did I mention I can't juggle? So I made the very excellent decision to not use all of the liquid/crusty mixture. This, after making the decision to say "yes" to my beloved's proposal of marriage, turns out to be one of the best very excellent decisions I have made in my life.

I placed the fairly overflowing pie dish into my hot oven and put a cookie sheet on the rack below it to catch any wayward drips or splashes. This turned out to be a very excellent decision as well, since as the liquidy/crusty stuff expanded as it cooked, pushing itself out of the pie plate and onto my oven creating great blobs of burnt crusty stuff and eventually virtually gluing my pie plate to the oven rack. (Can you guess how I'll be spending my Monday? Did you guess cleaning my oven? You win! You win one non-American apple pie!)

The cook time also turned out to be more of a suggestion than a direction. When I started to pull the pie out of the oven at the directed time, the entire center of the pie was still doughy and uncooked. Blurgh. So I cooked it longer and stared in disbelief as the crusty/doughy stuff kept growing like The Blob--or a  volcano spewing lava. Yes! That's it! It was like a dough volcano. It was a volcadough! (Say that out loud. It sounds like you're saying "volcano" when you have a head cold. Funny!) (Related: I am easily amused.) When I finally took it out of the oven 20 MINUTES over the cook time found in the recipe, it still didn't look completely done, but it was starting to burn. I would have put foil over the edges like you do on a regular crust, but I was afraid that if I tried to stifle the lava-flow that the Blob Pie would eat me.

When I finally cut into the pie, I discovered that the pie-that's-not-really-pie wasn't completely done in the center. It was still doughy. Also, I discovered that the pie-that's-not-really-pie was more like bread pudding. Now, that's fine, if bread pudding is what you are aiming for. But when what you think you are baking is pie, well, that sucks. It's kind of like when your mouth is prepared for a grape jelly bean, but it turns out what you have is a black licorice jelly bean. Again I say, Blurgh!

I cut exactly three servings of this pie/not pie. Exactly half a serving was eaten. Then I spent another 20 minutes cleaning the baked on/overflowed crust off of my pie plate. I'm grateful that I didn't serve this to guests like the paper suggested. And now I'm wondering if I can sue for false advertising. Or at the very least get compensation for the time it's going to take me to clean my oven.

So, I have learned some things from this whole pie/not pie episode. And the first is, never trust a Russian. HAHAHA!! I'm kidding!! (Related: I am not funny.) Actually the first is that I will continue to read the Taste Section of my paper. I will also continue to try new recipes. But I won't be making any more Russian apple pies. Unless I have plenty of vodka on hand. Then I might be persuaded.

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