I love pies. Let me emphasize that a bit more. I LOVE pies. I love to eat them, I love to bake them, I love to find new recipes, and I love to improve the recipes I already have. If I had to choose only one type of pie to eat for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t even know where to begin. So, it is only natural that if I happened to stumble upon a bag of cherries in my fridge, which I had forgotten I bought the week before, the first thought to cross my mind would be, Cherry Pie.
Believe it or not, this happened yesterday. I was happily browsing through the fridge in search of carrots when out of nowhere a bag of ripe, burgundy-colored, ready to bake cherries rolled into view. They looked up to me as if saying, here we are, bake us, bake us! Well, maybe not so dramatically, it’s not like I live in wonderland with talking cherries, but you get the point. Completely thrilled, I picked up the bag and modified my dinner plans to accommodate my surprising discovery.
I am an old fashion pie baker. I have nothing against canned fillings and ready-to-bake dough, but I wouldn’t be found touching either of those options with a ten-foot pole. I won’t apologize for it, that’s just the way it is. So, after preparing the pie dough (yes, from scratch), I proceeded to pit the cherries for the filling. I know, it is an incredibly tedious job, but I like my cherries fresh so I pit them myself.
While preparing my fabulous pie, I came to the funny realization that the process of writing isn’t that much different. Call me crazy, but I think baking a pie can teach you something about writing a book. Here is why:
The substance of a pie is in the prep steps. Pitting cherries might be time-consuming, annoying, and at times even headache inducing, but it is a necessary process. Without it, our pie would be a disaster. Pre-editing drafts are just as aggravating. They have the potential to drive you completely mad. But, they are also necessary. They are the substance of our book.
The secret of a pie is in the balance of ingredients. There is a reason why a recipe only calls for 8 tbsp cold water. The ratio of wet ingredients vs. dry ingredients needs to be considered when baking anything. Adding more water than necessary to your dough mixture will result in a soggy dough, too thin to roll into your baking dish, and not flaky enough after baking. Editors and proofreader perform the same functions. They add the necessary punctuations, help balance your use of adjectives, and rinse out the extra water in your dough. Without them, your book will undoubtedly have too much of some things and too little of others.
The mouth-watering effect comes from the egg wash. Brushing egg wash on the surface of your pie won’t only make it shiny, it will give it that golden shade that makes your exocrine glands salivate. Without egg wash (and sprinkled sugar on top, which is actually my favorite part) your pie won’t look the part. It might taste amazing inside, but the outside won’t look as inviting. Can you guess where I’m going with this? Yep, you got it. Covers are important. Your book might be the best book ever written, but if the cover doesn’t match the content, your book is falling short.
So, are you still calling me crazy? Who would have thought that a cherry pie could teach you so much, right? Well, I think cherry pies are brilliant … and scrumptiously delicious. Here is the recipe I use. Enjoy! (It is really good)
Flaky Pie Dough (double crust)
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
¾ cup cold unsalted butter cut into cubes
8 tbsp ice water, plus more if needed (1tsp at a time)
Makes enough for one 9-inch double crust pie or two single crust pies.
In a bow mix together the flour, salt and sugar. Sprinkle the butter on top and blend with your fingertips until most of the mixture resembles coarse meal with small (roughly pea-sized) lumps of butter. Drizzle 6 tbsp of water and mix with your kitchen aid at medium-high speed (with hook) until the mixture starts to come together. Add more water if needed. Don’t overwork dough!!!!! Dump the dough unto a work surface, press it together and divide in half. Flatten into two disks and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 min or until firm. If it gets too firm, just let it stand outside for a few minutes before rolling.
Cherry Almond Pie (filling)
2 tbsp quick-cooking tapioca (grounded)
5 cups (2 lb) pitted cherries
Grated lemon zest and lemon juice from one large lemon
¼ tsp almond extract
1 cup sugar
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cloves
Stir together cherries, lemon extract, lemon juice, almond extract, sugar, tapioca, salt, and cloves in a bowl until well combined. Let filling stand, stirring occasionally, for 15 min.
Assemble and Bake
Preheat oven to 425 degrees (F).
Roll one dough disk and place into pie dish, puncture dough with fork a few times and spoon cherry filling into shell. Roll second dough disk and cut into strips to create a lattice pattern over cherries. Brush dough with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake pie for 25 min. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees (F) and continue baking until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling, about 30 min. If edges look to brown and pie isn’t bubbling yet, cover loosely with foil.
4 thoughts on “The Cherry Pie Side of Writing”
Very clever insight. You are always thinking about writing! The pie sounds awesome!
Hahaha. The pie WAS awesome! And my hubby would agree with you, I do seem to always be thinking about writing 🙂
What a fabulous comparision!!!!! How in the world you can think such things????? I an in awed every time I read any of your writing materials.
By the way I am the best tool to help you pitted cherries!!!! I will send one out to you as soon as I find one around here. I bought mine in UT and it is so easy and fun at the same time. My kids like to use the handy tool.
Gaby, thnx! I do need to get a cherry pitter. Pitting one cherry at a time with a little knife can get old really quick! Though to be honest with you I don’t mind it that much, is kind of relaxing. Weird, I know.