As part of the Curious 52, I was challenged to make a pie. And not just any pie - Joyce Maynard’s Homemade Apple Pie.
Now, let me share a little known fact: when I was a kid, I was a terrible cook. My mother once caught me adding 1 cup of baking soda to a cornbread recipe - instead of a mere 1 tablespoon. You can imagine how that would have turned out! Granted, I was in elementary school - but coming from a family of great cooks, it chafed to be bad. So, I took a break from culinary endeavors… for years.
It wasn’t until I was out of college and living on my own that I tentatively started cooking. I devoured food magazines - especially articles about cooking techniques and the science of food preparation. Understanding why things are prepared a certain way and how to ensure a great outcome made me more confident in the kitchen - and more relaxed about not following recipes exactly.
Which brings me to Joyce Maynard’s pie lesson. Joyce’s secret is that “it’s not about the recipe - it’s how you handle the dough” - and to learn by watching someone make a good pie. So I set about learning her technique and watching and re-watching the lesson. Joyce is all about keeping her ingredients cold, handling them as little as possible, and not worrying if the dough doesn’t look perfect. And you know what? She was right.
When the pies came out of the oven, they didn’t look perfect. They looked homemade. But when it came time for the Curious team to eat them - nobody declined and some even went back for seconds!