Baked in the City is a happy network of homebakers like us, out to embrace more of our own. Our group is about celebrating home-baked treats and the absolute joy that goes into making them! Members look forward to sampling each other’s baked goods, learning new baking techniques together, sharing information on ingredients, trading sources or suppliers and even trying out new recipes from those who are willing to share.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Go ahead, make PIE day!

By Jen Ramirez

Invite to the 2nd Pastry Exchange

I had butterflies in my tummy on the way to our second Pastry Exchange. Our theme was “Scrumptious Pies & Tarts”, and I couldn’t help but think that I’d gotten in over my head this time. I barely survived 'bars and brownies' last month, to think they were actually mix-dump-bake affairs. A pie however is a more delicate creature. There’s a science to the crust, a harmony in the right filling, and a ‘daintiness’ to the over-all look of the pastry. I wasn’t sure my novice baking skills had what it took to bake pies. I’d never really tried to make one before, and here I was, bringing my first ‘experiments’ to the pastry exchange!

photo by Kit Langit

My Buttermilk Pies were definitely not what one would call dainty, but they were my ticket in to what would surely by a delicious afternoon (filled with other peoples’ pies -- haha!). Mine were securely covered by foil in their pans, and I was anxious about unveiling them for the world to see beside everyone else’s beautiful creations. I tried my best (twice in fact), but they didn’t come out as pretty as the pie pictured on the recipe. The least I was hoping for was that they’d taste like they’re supposed to, so I could at least say they were legitimately Baked In The City quality!

At exactly 2pm I entered Casa Castrillo. I saw the cake stands laid out on the table and three really pretty pies already on display. I learned from Yumi that three more were on the way. We had great variety that afternoon. There was sweet, cheesy, chocolatey, fruity, nutty, rich and creamy. Yum! We hadn’t even started yet and my senses were already in the sampling stage.

Ros putting on the last touches on her Sweet Potato Pie, photo by Kit Langit

It was great to see the old friendly faces from last months’ pastry exchange. I was also happy to meet Ros and Addie who were joining us for the first time. Ros went straight from the front door into the kitchen, to whip up some creme chantilly as the crowning glory of her sweet-potato pie. We all fell easily into the happy banter that comes with proudly talking about our ‘babies’ (which for that day, meant our pies).

photo by Kit Langit

Tasting time was heavenly. Since everyone was seated comfortably around the table, with the pies just laid out there before us, no one was in a hurry to get up. Our sampling size was quite big too, half a slice of pie per variety. With seven half-slices to taste (not counting seconds!) per baker, we easily ate about half a pie each!

photo by Yumi Castrillo

Now, packing our loot boxes was a belated challenge we may not have anticipated. It was hard to get neat slices of pie from the pan to the box, then to have each slice behave well with the other slices in there. One pie needed a serving spoon and take-out ramekins for the job, just to emphasize even more how gooey-delicious it was. You’ll have to wait for the individual features to find out which pie I'm talking about.

photo by Yumi Castrillo

Well, challenging or not, you can bet all of us were diligently filling the boxes with our share of the loot. Those pies were just too good to pass up for a second round at home. Somehow a pastry exchange isn’t really complete until you get back home, to the delight of eager loved ones waiting for you. In fact one of the best parts of every exchange is opening that lootbox on your dinner table, this time with family and friends to share in the bliss.

LOOTBOX! photo by Yumi Castrillo

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