Sunday, November 16, 2008
Yesterday I made pumpkin pie. There's usually a sense of achievement that follows after I take my finished bake good out of the oven. But with this pie, it was a different story. Apprehension is the best word for this situation. I will not tell you why until the end of the post.
For now, I will show you photos. This by far will be the best example of how every baked good does not always taste like what it looks like. I should know best. I have had successes and failures in the kitchen and it can get pretty disheartening at times. That's especially when you need to get that cake frosting right because you're baking a birthday cake.
But yesterday was a different story. Part of me feels a little guilty but I am really glad I went ahead and did it anyway and ended up with some orange coloured pie:
At least now I know what to do and what not to do. Look at the closeup of the pie, can you see the texture? Does it look like pumpkin to you? Well it has a colour similar to pumpkin yes? Let me fill you in on an extra bit of information - it might look like pumpkin but it didn't really taste much like pumpkin. I'm certain about that. I trust my tastebuds enough to know when they're taking a holiday. I might not have a palate as refined as a critic at The New York Times but I am sure I can tell the difference between a pumpkin pie and a pumpkin pie that's supposed to be a pumpkin pie but turns out to be more like a pumpkin pie-lookalike.
You might have gotten it by now. And yes you guessed right. I was a bad baker yesterday. A very lazy one. Although I did make my own pie crust, I took the easy way out for my pumpkin pie filling. I did not think I could get away with it though, knowing the reputation of quick-fixes. I've never been one for the ready-made mixes and tricks but I just had to try it at least once. I had to pick up this conveniently labelled huge can of easy pumpkin promise:
I just had to know if the shortcut alternative would taste as good as something freshly made. Libby's is a brand I've seen quite so often at the supermarket. Everytime I walk down that 'baking help' isle I can't help but be enticed by that sweet promise of the possibility of having a lovely warm comforting pumpkin pie with just the twist of a can opener. Prior to yesterday I was careful not to be wooed by such promise of course. I take pride in being someone who puts in the extra effort to bake from scratch.
Oh but you know how hard it can be sometimes. Especially those times when you really crave for something and are too tired to go the extra mile - which in this case involves me lugging home some sugar pumpkins, skinning them, baking them, pureeing them, and measuring out all the spices like ground cinnamon, ginger, cloves, etc. The entire picture seems pretty clear now. There is a reason why grannies make their pumpkin pies from scratch. I recently read on someone's food blog that a friend had baked two pumpkin pies for a taste test and the one that won hands down was naturally and predictably the one with a homemade pumpkin pie filling.
Reading that and having experienced my personal canned pie filling fiasco. I would not say it was a complete failure. Perhaps I should also attribute it to the fact that I DID NOT use evaporated milk as instructed. I did not have any at home and I had just got out of bed and was in no mood to leave the house (see, again, laziness!) so I made do with the only possible substitute I had in my fridge - some low fat milk mum had bought the night before. I guess that could have been one of the reasons why the pie didn't taste that good. But I assure you that I did taste some of the pumpkin filling straight out of the can and was also unimpressed. Seriously, people who have used this pie mix, do they actually like it enough to give it a second shot? Maybe they do but I don't.
I hate to sound harsh but I know a bad pie mix when I taste one. Even more so when my brother, after tasting some of the finished pie, starts to ask my mum if there were tomatoes in it. He honestly thought it could have been a tomato pie. I took another taste and found his observation to be quite right. It did taste a bit like tomato ketchup and I found that highly disturbing. I had also failed to check the ingredient list. Again, silly me. Maybe I was trying too hard to believe that I could simply rely on a canned pie mix to satisfy my pie craving. Turns out that my pumpkin pie craving does not include one that tasted like ketchup.
I know that the next time I bake a pumpkin pie, I am going to use my own filling, made from scratch. I am sure then, that it will also look better than this sad coloured slice:
Oh how I would kill for a slice of fresh pumpkin pie right now, one with pumpkin filling NOT out of a can. I wish I still had slices of my crostata di mele from last week. Now that's a perfect example of a pie we all ought endeavour to make once in a while, even if we're really busy. Canned stuff can only fulfill so much of your expectations. It will never replace the real and freshly made deal.