I baked my little heart out today.
First it was blueberry muffins, to fuel a morning at Workimer, and the most absurdly easy macaroons. Then banana bread, for the freezer. (We have eight friends coming next week.) Then sour cherry pie, my first with real pie cherries.
I’d never actually tried sour cherries, come to think of it. Smaller and softer, they’re so much more feminine than a Bing. At first, they taste like cherries in a bitchy mood, but after I got used to their punch, I decided I love them. And indeed, when I broke into them with my fingernails, pitting them all by hand without the use of a knife or a pitter, I felt a little more feminine myself. My fingernails are finally long enough to be good for something, I thought. I smugged inside, and thanked the steroids.
I’d made the nicest crust. I planned to have friends over for pie, and pretend it’s something we do all the time on a Sunday afternoon. On Friday, I stayed up late with my crust, with two whole sticks of butter, and the patience to add water until the dough clung together just enough. I even tied the two sections of dough together. (Who was it that told me once that it works, that a double-crusted pie bakes happier when its two halves sleep together in the fridge overnight?)
Oh yes, I did all the right things. I bought instant tapioca, because I’d never thickened with it before, and even folded my rhurbarb patch’s midseason surge in with the cherries.
Then a friend called, just when I was about to roll the crust out. I turned my back, and in the time it took me to put a measuring cup in the sink, my dog stole about twenty percent of the dough. Right off the counter, in front of me, like I wasn’t even there. Just took a bite, and chewed thoughtfully, which is unusual – she’s a gulper, through and through. I’m sure that if she could speak, she’d have said Why yes, Jess, this is a fabulous crust. I can’t wait to taste it later.
We had a discussion, and she was exiled to the porch.
But really, it wasn’t that big of a deal – the skimpier crust forced me to roll the dough thinner than I’d have normally dared, and when I draped the last part of the lattice over the top, I almost shrieked with excitement. I brushed it with cream, sprinkled it with sugar, and tucked it into the oven with a twirl and a dance I’m glad no one got on film.
After it had cooled, I tapped my fingernails on the crust, and it made the hollow, almost tinny sound crust only makes when it’s impossibly flaky. I clapped, pushed the pie into the corner of the counter, where I knew my dog couldn’t get it, and texted my friends with a cherry pie invite. I ran out into the yard to clip flowers for the patio table.
A few minutes later, Scout, the Golden Retriever we’re watching this weekend, pranced down the deck stairs with my red oven mitt in his mouth. He was all wag.
Scout ate my pie.
For the record, I didn’t cry. I didn’t get straight to work on another crust, either, which is surprising, because I wanted nothing more than to put him in one, all chopped up.
I screamed and shouted at him, and mourned for what seemed more like a masterpiece with every passing minute. Scout thought it was all a fantastic show, and wanted to know, Would perhaps a tennis ball help us enjoy my fit? My husband came home, and I wailed into his shoulder.
My first sour cherry pie. My perfect crust. How could he?
And was Bromley in on it? Did they plan the one-two punch, step by step pie ruination?
We salvaged two pieces out of the edge Scout didn’t touch. The crust was perfect. (Of course I can say that now that you can’t taste it, but really, it was. I promise.) The tapioca gelled the cherries together, and the filling sang with flavor.
Jim scraped what remained of the top half of the pie into the garbage, and saved the bottom crust, and its clingy bits, in a rosy heap in a Tupperware container.
“We’ll bake it again in the morning, and it’ll taste delicious,” he said. His optimism failed to cheer me.
I may find the ingredients again, because I may have been converted – sour cherries are worth their price, I know that much now. I may type the recipe out, so you can make it too.
But for now, I need a serious pout.