On a day when the temperature in my house is 27.7 degrees C (81F) and the humidity is 66%, I–as crazy as it sounds–decide to bake a pie. Not just any pie, my very popular, well-loved coconut cream pie. Something I make for family and as gifts for friends. I am not a person who makes fancy desserts, but for some reason, I can make pies. They are my signature dessert. Today’s pie was for my friend and paddling buddy Sue, who is a bit under the weather and missed our weekly paddling date. I had big plans to make her favourite pie and drop down for a visit to deliver it.
After going to the grocery store to pick up a fresh package of coconut, because coconut doesn’t keep it’s flavour once the package is opened, I made the pastry, which blended so smoothly and rolled out so perfectly that I started getting excited about delivering this pie. Sue is a person who would notice whether or not the crust was perfect. She would appreciate that aspect of the gift. Not as much as the delicious flavour, but she does notice those kinds of details. Because of the heat, I debated turning on the BBQ to bake the pie crust. I have been known to use our BBQ as an oven in the summer. Then changed my mind, not wanting to take a chance of ruining that perfectly-blended-and-rolled crust. BBQ-baked pie crust is not something I have tried before. Today was not the day to experiment.
With the oven set to 475 F and the portable fan directed towards the kitchen area to help keep it cool, I refrigerated the crust, which was pricked with a fork every quarter inch, to prevent puffing and shrinking. Then moved it to the oven when the oven was hot, and man was it hot. I had put this crust in an disposable aluminum pie plate instead of one of my Pyrex ones–who knew it would make such a difference. Eight minutes later, I removed a crust that had collapsed in upon itself and raised up in a hill in the center despite all my usual techniques.
What to do? What to do? Do I make another crust? Use my regular pie plate? Make and dump the filling on top of this terrible looking crust and go with it? No doubt it will still taste fine. There is nothing finer than coconut cream pie filling. While contemplating these options, I decided to toast the coconut for the top under the broiler while the oven was still hot rather than turn it on again later. Toasted coconut is another fine tasting thing in my books. I am a cook who samples while cooking so I like to make sure there is enough extra toasted coconut to dip the beater in after the cream is whipped, spread on top of the filling and sprinkled with crispy brown toasted coconut. Yes I dip and lick the beater. This is something I do alone. When it comes to all things relating to coconut cream pie, I am a bit selfish. Lucky for me The Doc is not a lick-the-beater type of person.
Then the smell of burnt coconut fills the kitchen and I open the oven to see coconut oil smoking off the black flakes of what was supposed to be my pie topping. I removed the pan of coconut from the oven and set it down next to the imploded pie crust. That was the moment I chose to walk away. Consider it today’s small-L life lesson. Obviously today was not the day to make a pie.
Walking away was the best option. My heart may have been in the right place but my timing was way off. So Sue, since you are not getting a pie today, I wanted you to know that I was thinking of you and sometime in the future, when the weather and my house is cooler, and my pie-making skills are back up to snuff, I will make you a coconut cream pie, which I am hoping you will enjoy as much as you enjoy paddling.
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Photos: Jenn Stone