My weekend included a large bowl of apples and a little baking stint. Something I rarely need my arm twisted to do. Unless of course we’re smack dab in the dog days of summer. In which case, dripping-hot me doesn’t want to go anywhere near an oven once I get home (the downside to working in a restaurant kitchen—all fire, all the time). Cooler weather draws out the rabid baker in me. My children have absolutely no complaints about that. Because, you know, it’s not as if they’re going to say Pie for me? Again? Really, mum, I couldn’t possibly! Not them. They just eat, mumble thanks (mouths full of smiles and crumbs) and run. And I have to say, I like seeing those smiles on their faces. I just do.
When I’m not baking dozens (or hundreds) of cookies at a time, I find the ritual of baking contemplative. It’s a process that I like paying attention to. Scooping and measuring and feeling the satin softness of flour against my fingertips. Watching as a buttercream furiously mixes, noticing that one, magical moment where it suddenly binds. Selecting a rolling-pin from many held in an old earthenware pot. Dusting a surface with flour, the dough yielding to gentle pressure, a soft, satin expanse spreading across well-worn wood.
I stay far, far away from the tipping point of sweetness. I like to remain on this side of the line that separates sweet enough, from sickeningly so. I’m back to baking again at work and what makes me happiest of all is hearing people tell me that my baking is perfectly under-sweetened! I don’t do well with an excess of sugar. The instant it hits my tongue it seduces my taste buds, often leaving me fog-headed and migrainous. And that’s no party. So I veer away from refined sugar when I can and include gluten-free flours as well.
When Number Four returned from his dad’s to start the week at my house, he had a few mini apple pies to choose from. I hadn’t intended to make petite pies. But the game changed when I discovered that all three of my pie plates were missing in action … languishing in friends’ kitchens. So, (awfully darn cute) minis it was!
Pie and tea all around, friends!