At the public schools in San Antonio my children have attended the PTA has collected pies from parents to give to every school employee on the last day of school before Thanksgiving. So yesterday was my pie-baking day for the year.
I’m not very fond of pies. The filling isn’t too difficult but the crust always gives me problems. Even with a store-bought crust, a pie shield and foil I usually end up burning the edges. At my son’s school they needed 240 pies. The pie coordinator’s last email sounded panicky and mentioned a pie shortage. So I attempted to make four pies instead of my customary two pies.
I wanted to make one pie from Gourmet magazine in honor of the magazine’s demise. I subscribed to Gourmet for many years. I enjoyed reading the magazine even though the recipes were too complicated for me to make and the travel articles were about places I never visited. For me the magazine was about possibilities and dreams such as making cheese from scratch and visiting Darjeeling.
The Gourmet recipe I chose was Sweet Potato Pie with Gingersnap Crust. I thought sweet potato would be a little different and the cookie crust seemed to provide less opportunity for burning. However, in the middle of the recipe is a step which involves carmelizing sugar. It took a long time but the sugar melted, I added the water, the sugar dissolved and it seeemed fine. But as soon as I turned my back the sugar hardened and stuck fast to the bottom of the pan. I reheated the sugar and added the hot caramel to the filling. I’m not sure if that is what I was supposed to do but it seemed to work out. The “Gourmet” pie took me about four hours to make with the potato cooking, cookie grinding, and nut toasting. Since I was then running out of energy and patience the other pies I made were the quick classic sweet potato and pumpkin pies with store-bought frozen crusts and canned pumpkin. I hope the teacher who ends up with the “Gourmet” pie will appreciate all the steps that went into it.
This morning as I was driving my son and the pies to the school I remarked that it was sad that I had only one more year of baking teacher pies at Thanksgiving before he graduated. My son generously offered to spend a fifth year in high school.