As I often say (whilst re-appropriating a quote from Calvin Trillin): Everyone thinks that their mom makes the best pie in the world, but somebody is right and it just so happens to be me. So when it was suggested by the good people at Tasted.com that my mom and I bake pie together for my new web series, The Food Feeder, I jumped at the chance. The rest of the world deserves the pleasures of a tart, green apple pie with an all-butter crust, don't they? The result of our efforts was a rather fun video (which you can view below), a lot of pie dough, some moderate sweating, and a newfound respect for Martha Stewart.
To be perfectly honest, I've never had an especially strong opinion of Martha Stewart one way or the other. Growing up, I did watch a lot of food television, but my deepest affections always leaned toward Lidia Bastianich (bolognese beats table decorating). But now that I've tried to make pie crust under hot lights, while waiting for things like cameras and microphones, I must say: Martha, I'm impressed. Pie crust, and all of the things used to make it - including the ingredients, the food processer, the bowls, and everything else - need to be as cold as possible. I don't have the scientific credentials to tell you exactly why pie making requires frigid temperatures, only that your pie will be a massive jerk to you if you don't.
So hot lights are your first problem. The other is that the timing of a shoot can be very imprecise and require a good bit of waiting around before, all of a sudden, it's time to shoot. Ordinarily, I use that waiting around time to think about how much easier my job is than everyone else's (a director of photography's position requires actual, learned skills). But with a pie crust, timing is of the essence. Leave your dough in the fridge for an extra half hour, and it's too difficult to roll. Take it out early, and you've got mush.
It's a strange thing to manufacture reality - which is precisely what a cooking demo is. In order to seem like we made a pie, my mom had to prepare several pie crusts in advance, as well as a whole cooked pie to swap out at the end for the raw one which we wouldn't actually have time to bake. And every time I screw up, or slur my words, or swear for no good reason? We have to shoot it over again, all while the pie softens and sweats under those nasty lights.
So again, I have nothing but the utmost respect for one Martha Stewart, who seems to keep her pies (and occasionally her personality) as frigid as possible. Though I should warn Ms. Stewart to watch her back. My mom may be coming for her job. Check out the latest episode of The Food Feeder below, where, in addition to my ma's pie, I cover the Harvard space burger, Jack Daniel's new whiskey, white Pepsi and more.