Thursday, November 24, 2011


My inability to make a pie from scratch is pretty much legendary among most of the Free World.

I can knock out the fillings, no problemo. It’s making the crust that, in essence, turns me into a homicidal freak of nature, more than capable of slapping a kitten as I watch my rolled pie dough, so close to going into the pie pan, crumble into a million tiny little pieces.

Let me just say that, when assigned pie for holiday dinner, my boys and the Wonderfully Patient Spouse give serious consideration to entering into a Witness Protection program.

So, what am I bringing to our friends’ bountiful Thanksgiving table this year?


Made-from-scratch NUTELLA PECAN PIE.

Nutella is a powerful motivator. I love the stuff. It should be declared a Fifth Food Group.

Minimum daily requirement? 20 servings a day. Per hour.

A maddeningly cheerful post by Wanna Be a Country Cleaver about how easy it is to make this pie also gave me hope. But still. Pie crust from scratch? Candy thermometer required? Adorable little cookie-cutter leaves lining the crust? Ladies and gentlemen, may I present -- a recipe for disaster.

Lay on, Macduff. And watch your kittens.

In honor of turkeys everywhere, we had an early dismissal day at work yesterday. Perfect. A whole afternoon dedicated to descending into madness making this freakishly delicious-sounding pie.
There'd be more than enough time to run to the store and buy a bail-out pie.

 And for slapping kittens.  JUST KIDDING, OKAY?

For the record.
1. I have never slapped a kitten.
2. The boys have outgrown their obsession with Hawaiian shirts.
3. But they still enjoy picking the wings off of butterflies.
It's one of their enduring charms.
The WPS, on the other hand, booked the panic room at The Davenport Hotel, lined up a restraining order and retained a bodyguard.

This isn't his first pie crust rodeo.

So on to the making of pie.

First, I have learned, thanks to watching at least 10,000 hours of Food Network Thanksgiving programming over the last 48 hours, that pie ingredients should be COLD. (The Macaron Lady at Sweet Frostings reinforced this edict when I stopped to pick up treats for the office yesterday morning.)

The Macaron Lady also recommended using a food processor to mix the dough -- as does the recipe.

Glad we're all on the same page here.

Flour and salt went into the food processor first AND. . . .

It wouldn't go on. Shit.

I took the processor apart and put it back together AND. . . .

It wouldn't go on. Much more colorful swear words.

I retreated to the drawer where I keep the owner's manuals for pretty every appliance we've ever owned and consulted Messrs. Black and Decker.

Ooopsy. My bad. Forgot to attach the feeder tube
Once all components of the food processor were reunited, things went much more smoothly. "Pulse together salt and flour till combined." Roger that.

My chilled butter, now stamped Product of the North Pole, went in next.

See the frost? I did good!
"Pulse till small beads form."
Check, check and check.

"Add in cold water till dough starts to ball." The food processor danced across the counter as the dough came together. And when I removed the top

It was a freakin' miracle.

The WPS cancelled the panic room reservation. And the dough went into the fridge to chill. Again.

The moment of truth approached. Roll-out time. The moment when, so many times, my dreams and aspirations of pie crust nirvana have been dashed against the rocky shoals of pastry perversity.

Another freakin' miracle. 

Somebody got a little over exuberant
with the pastry flour.

I even got a little artsy.

Off you go into the oven, my little petit choux.

The WPS tore up the restraining order.

Onto the filling. Only one heart-stopping moment here. That's when the temperature of corn syrup-brown sugar mixed blasted beyond its 130-degree simmer point on the candy thermometer. I had visions of Nutella-pecan pie hard candy.

How was I going to present this? "Here's our Thanksgiving pie, only you have to suck it"?

But I managed to wrangle the temperature back down, added the pecans and finished off the pie.

As the pie went into the oven, the bodyguard got to lick the filling spoon and we sent him on his way with a heartfelt "Happy Thanksgiving!"

And 55 minutes later, I was vindicated. I had made a pie from scratch. Without slapping a kitten.

And for that, and so many other blessings, I give thanks.

The end.

Happy Thanksgiving from the denizens of Bermtopia!

No kittens were slapped in the making of this pie.

Epilogue: Our cat, KC, pictured above with the NumberOne and Number TwoSons, lived happily (especially when the boys went off to college) for another 10 years. He died peacefully at home, his last days made relatively comfortable courtesy of tuna-flavored Lasix. True story.


  1. Now that was funny! Thank you for giving us all hope that we too might achieve all our Julia Child aspirations. Hope everyone appreciated that pie on Thanksgiving.

  2. that is one of the most hilarious baking stories I have ever read! i guess lots of Americans are getting their hands burnt this weekend. hope thanksgiving is wonderful for you and all the family [even if they still pull off butterfly wings arrgh gah].

    hugs xox

  3. Wow! You've almost made that look simple enough for me to try. :) I bet it was yummy, too. Nutella makes everything yummy.

    I didn't see the kitty in the photo until your last sentence. My eyes tricked me into seeing a second pogo stick. KC must have been quite tolerant. :)

    Hope you had a Thanksgiving as good as your pie!

  4. My pie crusts are always of the Pillsbury variety. I just can't put myself through all the angst of doing it right!

    Hope you had a nice long holiday weekend!