The Ugliest Pie Ever!

Toni’s 11 year old daughter wowed us with a simple, healthful creation of  ripe bananas seared in coconut oil, caramelized with added honey and finished with cinnamon and nutmeg. Yummy! I decided right then and there to make a banana pie for Christmas day dessert.  I grew up eating my Grandma’s banana pie: think apple pie, but with firm, ripe bananas. Ripe bananas are sliced, layered in a a pie crust lined pie dish, sprinkled with brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon and nutmeg, sealed with a cover of crust and baked until golden brown. Enjoy this bubbling, fragrant pie – warm, with a scoop or three of vanilla or coconut ice cream.  You’re welcome.

But let me get back to me and my desire for banana pie. I decided to make my pie from scratch.  You see, I am not really a dessert person, but I have a weakness for anything in pastry: think patty, meat pie, fruit tart, fruit pie…ahmagawd… I felt that a bought pie crust would not give me that buttery, flaky finish that I was craving. So mi ah go dweet miself!!! I called Mummy in Grenada, got confirmation of the methodology that her mother used and felt ready to proceed. But here’s the rub (pun intended): pastry making is a precise science.  Yes, a science. Proportions have to be precise. Everything has to be cold. And pastry has to be handled deftly, with a light touch. Now please note: I don’t possess a kitchen scale. I consider myself to be a reasonably good cook. But I eyeball every single thing. I stir. I taste. I compensate and adjust. Apparently you don’t get this leeway with pastry.

I’ve had acceptable outcomes with pastry in the past though, so I approached this pie making task with a small measure of confidence.  So while the ham was baking Christmas eve night, I got busy with my pie crust. See it here now…remember I craved a buttery finish? I think I added too much butter in relation to the flour. Warning bells went off when that breadcrumb finish that I expected after combining the butter and flour was more like a sticky mass. Have mercy. Panic levels rising, I hastily added more flour. Woi mi bathy! I managed eventually to get everything into a a semi solid ball. I was almost in tears by this time as I replayed the amount of (man) handling that I had inflicted on my pastry mixture to get it to this stage.

I sighed. I cussed. I did everything except what I should have done at this stage: turn the darned thing into dumpling mix and fry up dem suckers to go with the ackee and saltfish that Little Master was going to prepare later that evening. But no. I am a hero and I was going to have banana pie made from scratch. So I took that “pastry” ball and wrapped it up in saran wrap and placed in the fridge. I was sure that in the morning, it would be firm enough to roll out and make my pie.

So at the appointed time Christmas day, kitchen smelling like heaven with all the other savouries being baked, simmered and seared, I trepidaciously removed my pie crust ball from the fridge. It was hard as rock. You see, all that butter had behaved like butter does in the fridge: it got hard. I dropped the ball with a thud on the kitchen counter. My shoulders dropped.


Yes Mummy?

“Rachael! Please come here.” I was standing as still as a statue, head bowed, shoulders drooping.

She runs into the kitchen.

What ,Mummy? What happen? What’s wrong?”

“Rachael. Feel this.”

I rolled the ball of pastry along the counter to her. She touched it. She held it in her hand and looked at me with eyes and mouth wide open.

OMG! What you gonna do? Maybe you can soften it up in the microwave.

The microwave, People. Pastry. My breath was coming in shallow, ragged gasps. I struggled to hold back the tears.

I waved her away. By this time she is doubled over with laughter asking me the same damned question repeatedly: “What you going to do?

KMT. I am going to make and eat banana pie. Hook or crook. We had other dessert options you know: Christmas cake, red velvet cup cakes and ice cream. But. I.  Wanted. Banana. Pie. Made. From. Scratch. Awoe.

I gave the cannon ball 10 minutes to chill out (ha!) and then I squared my shoulders and went to work. I pressed out that sucker. I added flour. I rolled it like I was laying asphalt. I managed to line the pie dish. I gloated: HA! GOTCHA!  I sliced, I layered, I sugared and sprinkled. Yes, indeed… I was halfway there.  Grandma’s method calls for complete covering of the pie with pastry, small vents snipped to allow steam to escape. Could I get a uniform, continuous sheet of pastry to do this? After rolling and recombining and rolling again 3 times (can someone say dumpling?) I decided to make a lattice top. Lemme stop here. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Here’s the finished product: the Ugliest Pie Ever.

The Ugliest Pie Ever

Needless to say, when dessert time rolled around, I didn’t present this finished product.  My kids were like: “Don’t worry, Mummy…I’m sure it’s delicious.” I sliced up that sucker in hiding, plated and presented with flourish. Hallelujah!!! It was DELICIOUS!  The crust was flaky and buttery. The filling was perfect. I had only this pie with a little ice cream for my own dessert. I think the others agreed with my delicious verdict too:

What was left of the Ugliest Pie ever at the end of Christmas Day

All in all, Christmas day dinner was a success. I felt more confident dealing with the entrees and had no issue whatsoever presenting:

Christmas Dinner

So…where do I go from here?

Option 1: buy the damned pie crust next time.

Option 2: Buy a kitchen scale, look up some tutorial videos on YouTube and become a pie making champion. I hate losing, and I hate the idea that anything in the kitchen if off limits to me.

Option 3: Outsource the entire pie making activity. Toni’s daughter or my niece Ileanna are one hundred miles ahead of me in this department.

I’ll put this whole sordid affair out of my mind for at least three months then… well…we’ll see…