Why Pie?

I want to write more about my work but there’s something that scares me about writing to expose the process. It’s not a good thing to avoid so I’m making pie and writing about it.

Baking is hard. Baking a good pie involves science, math, practice and creativity. These are a lot of the same skills I love about working around art, technology and education. I’m hoping that by writing about my making pie i’ll be more comfortable writing about my making community spaces. Plus, you can eat pie with your friends.

Cantaloupe Pie – alpha

I love old recipes that feel personal. Lots of old cookbooks infuse narrative into the recipe with local ingredients or even with omitting some direction that may be pretty vital – this is one of those.

The recipe cam from a Texas Monthly article, one of the best magazines I’ve enjoyed a subscription to. For me, right up there with ‘Sassy‘.

The recipe seemed simple enough:

1 fully ripe cantaloupe (preferably Pecos, of course)
3 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 stick butter
5 egg yolks, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1 9-inch baked pie shell
5 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon vanilla
sugar, to taste

Cut the cantaloupe into smallish chunks and cook over low heat until soft enough to mash. Add flour, nutmeg, butter, egg yolks, and 1/2 cup sugar. Continue cooking, stirring constantly until thick. Cool and pour into baked pie shell.

To make meringue, beat egg whites until stiff, adding vanilla and sugar. Cover pie with meringue and brown slightly under the broiler. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours before serving.

It’s what it lacks that makes it deceivingly simple. Did you notice?
Baking instructions, how long and at what temperature do I cook it.

This is where I figure the baker assumes I’m a competent enough to know how hot/long a fruit pie should bake.

I’m not.

So I followed the instructions and then baked it at 375 for about 45 minutes total. I started at 13 minutes but kept checking, jiggling and leaving it for 7 more minutes, I did that a few times. The final product came out better then expected but not good enough to share with co-workers.

Will repeat:

  • Over-baking was just right. The top caramelized, it was beautiful and tasty
  • Protect the edges! I put foil on the exposed bits after pre-baking the crust.

Will do different:

  • Blend the melon, strain it, then mix it with the other ingredients. I wanted something a little more jelly, less pulpy.
  • Boil down the strained mix to reduce it.
  • Put sugar on for the last few minutes of bake to really caramelize the top.

Cantaloupe Pie