Musings from Quince

Easy as Pie? YOU be the Judge!

Triple Coconut Cream Pie

Aah, pie, wonderful pie…..I don’t bake much these days, but when I saw the Cville Pie Fest coming up, I realized the one pie I do enjoy making which people always scream and swoon over might be a good contender…Triple Coconut Cream pie…yes, there is coconut in the crust, in the filling, and toasted on top (along with white chocolate shavings, of course).   And since it was for a very good cause, PACEM, it just seemed like the right thing to do, so I entered my pie in the contest.  The event was held yesterday, on a Sunday, which is probably the best day to hold something like this as it gives contestants most of the weekend to prepare….unless you happen to be working all day Friday and Saturday….and so my adventure begins…..

This pie is a complicated pie to bake – the steps are mind-boggling, from the crust, right on through to the end. With all the various stages of chilling the pie dough and cooking/cooling the filling, it takes 2 days, from start to finish.  Making a crust seems simple enough….just need the basic food processor, rolling pin, and ingredients, right?….Oh, the ingredients!  When I was in the check out line at the grocery store, people were staring at my cart – a cart full of baking goods…this was only the first trip…there were 4 more trips to the store for things I had either forgotten or run out of. 

 The first hint that making this pie might be an extra challenge was when I noticed my fridge had gone completely dead Friday night, after 9 years of perfect service – not good when everything has to be chilled in stages.  I called a friend in a panic state and we figured out I could take all the ingredients and supplies to Quince (we have a huge refrigerator on site) and continue the process really late at night or early in the morning.  I decided to just pretend everything was OK instead, and left the first pie dough in the fridge anyway, and went to bed.  When I woke up Saturday a.m., the fridge had miraculously come back on (though it was sputtering a bit), so I decided to just take my chances at home.  The first ball of dough had successfully chilled all night, so I then rolled it out, plopped it in the pie pan, and set the oven timer.  Of course, one doesn’t just throw something like this in the oven; the inside of the pie tin must first be lined with parchment paper and weighted down with uncooked rice or beans over the dough, to ensure even cooking.  Well, when I took the crust out of the oven and threw off the beans and parchment paper, I freaked because the crust was a tad too brown for my liking, so I had to make the executive decision to go ahead and make A SECOND pie for judging, offering up the first pie for the silent auction (hadn’t really planned on doing 2 pies)… that point I realized, on Saturday, that I needed another pie tin.  So, I sped to The Seasonal Cook after work, where I purchased one of those super-duper pie plates that is non-stick and weighs a lot…apparently this is the Rolls-Royce of pie tins, and the gal in the store instructed me to “season” the tin before using so the crust would brown evenly…OK, so what’s that all about?  “Well, fill the pie tin to the top with water and leave it in the oven for 45 minutes at 350 degrees…careful taking it out of the oven so you don’t burn yourself!”  At this point I was getting a little anxious – sounds complicated, and what if I drop the whole thing?  I’ll end up in the burn unit at UVA…but, I didn’t know what else to do.  So, when the timer rang, I was a little nervous as the tin was almost completely full with 350 degree water.  In the meantime, my cats really like to place themselves right behind me when I’m at the kitchen counter (I guess they think they’ll miss something), so I constantly have to look before I step.  They are mostly black and always sit on the black painted diamonds on my parquet floor, so it’s really hard to see them; anyone looking at me through the kitchen window will think I’m doing some sort of spastic tribal dance, when what I’m actually doing is trying to keep from tripping over the cats.  Anyway, I clear the area, open the door and in slo-mo manage to get the full pie tin over to the sink without spilling a drop!  Yahoo!!!

I get home from work early Saturday evening and know that I’ve got to hustle to get the second crust baked and the filling done, ready to chill overnight….one annoying feature of the filling is that once it’s cooked, it has to be placed in an ice water bath to cool it down even more before popping it in the fridge.  At that point, I’ve run out of dishes, and coconut is all over the entire kitchen….I manage to somehow get everything done and set my alarm for 5:30 Sunday morning so I will have enough time to whip the cream, toast the coconut, shave the chocolate, and drop those pies off by 10:30am……

Sunday morning I leap into action….I’m really upset because both crusts are a tad too brown (the new pie tin actually shrunk the entire second crust a little, in addition to browning too much….geez…) but there’s nothing I can do about this now.  In the name of being time efficient while I’m waiting for the final stage of cooling, etc.,  I decide to run a few loads of laundry in between things….you’ll love what’s next.

Dexter = Cheetah

  I come up from my basement and throw a huge mound of warm, dried clothes on my bed and proceed to fold things….little do I know that Dexter, my all-muscle cheetah-like cat is revving up to do a major sprint from the far side of the kitchen all the way over to a warm mountain of clean laundry on the bed.  I dropped something on the floor at the same time he takes off, and he manages to slam into my head at full speed, not only bending my eyeglass frames, but scaring the hell out of me and him.  He freaks out and hides under the bed while I loudly moan in pain.  What next?  I slowly recover, give him a few hugs, and can’t wait for all of this to be over with!  I amazingly manage to get both pies done, hope nobody notices the crusts being a little too brown, and get them submitted in time.

My pie didn’t win any awards, but I received the highest bid for a pie during the silent auction.  The nice thing about all of this is that the bidder got to take my pie home for $25 and enjoy it, and I had the chance to help out a group in need.  All 20 of the judged pies were divided up into individual bites and were sold individually at 3 for $1.  I’m happy to say I watched many people enjoying my pie, including a little kid who gave it a thumbs up.  Next time, I’ll watch the crust bake more closely….even after all the drama, I still feel like I have enough momentum left in me to get one more TCCP made sometime this week.  Any takers?