Last week was one of the busiest weeks I’ve ever had as an aspiring pie baker and making pies, but boy was it fun! From baking multiple pie recipes, which for me, was a first, for a graduation party – to putting on a pie baking competition for my daughter’s soccer team at their team dinner, I knew way before hand that the week would silly crazy!
The Graduation Party
A friend of mine’s daughter was graduating from high school and her mother (A friend I used to work with decades ago), thought it would be great to cater in homemade pies. Who better, I’m sure she thought, than to bring in, yours truly, to put together some delicious pie dishes?
Without skipping a beat, I excitedly accepted the challenge! I had never yet, made any serious number of pies, for a fairly large event, using 4 different pie recipes. This would not only test my ‘organizational’ skills but also push the limits of my meager sized home kitchen.
The pie recipes requested for the graduation party were – an Oreo Cookies & Cream Pie, A Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, A Triple Berry Pie and an Cranberry Apple Crumble.
I first made sure I had plenty of time carved out for the ‘day before’ and the ‘day of’ the Graduation Party, as well as enough space in the fridge and around the kitchen for pies, ingredients and other pandemonium! Did I already mention I was working with an infinitely small kitchen?!
I then decided I would make two of the pies the day before and the other two, the morning of. In the end though, I actually ended up making THREE of the pies the day before and the Cranberry Apple Crumble the day of, which impressed even me!
I had never made this many pies before, especially with so much variation in the recipes, but I felt both honored and happy for the opportunity. The opportunity to not just apply what I have learned to such a monumental task, but also in being able to share my talent and skill with others, who absolutely enjoyed them! It was also a great chance to contribute to a special moment, where good food is often one of the more important focal points to having a successful event.
The Team Dinner & Making Pies
The end of the week is when things REALLY got moving, with the Idaho State Soccer Cup Championships. And, like they’ve been doing throughout the season, planned to have a Team Dinner the night before the competition kicked off. The only difference this time being, is that I was tasked by the Team Manager, to liven things up a bit with a ‘Pie Baking Competition’ between the girls.
I first came up with four relatively simple pie recipes using either fresh or frozen fruits. In this case, a peach pie, a blueberry pie, a raspberry pie and a blackberry pie. Of course the girls wouldn’t be required to make their own crust (even though many of them were fully capable of doing), so we found some pre-made pie dough at the store to boht simply and speed things up a bit. After all, they still had to get some rest later on to be able to compete in the state championship matches, right?
The other trick with coming up with the recipes was to make sure that each had a relatively short prep and bake time. It was a little tougher than I realized, but I managed to wrangle the perfect foursome together for the night’s competition!
We had the girls draw recipes out of a hat until we had four equal sized teams, give and take, then gave their ‘designated team captains’ the recipe and set them off!
Ingredients were all piled up in various spots around the the kitchen.
I presided over the competition, only offering verbal assistance, ONLY if they asked for it. Let’s just say I was able to stay relatively mum throughout and just sit back and enjoy the mad scramble to bake the best pie.
Nice thing about doing something like this for competitive athletes? It doesn’t matter what they’re doing. EVERYTHING they do, be it playing sports or baking, is an all-out competition!
The event was one of the best we’ve done for the girls. I walked around the kitchen, skillfully avoiding busy ‘little bakers’ as they ran to and fro, making pies and marveling at the creativity some of the teams took upon themselves to go above and beyond what the recipe called for.
As each team finished their prep and placed their ‘projects’ into the ovens, anticipation and excitement steadily built, as pies browned and juices bubbled up. The smell in the kitchen was sensational!
So, the IDEA was, for the parents to each take slices and then to judge what team had the best tasting pie. None of that happened. In fact, before any of us knew it, the girls had taken the pies out of the oven and then quickly proceeded to dive into one another’s pies themselves, anxious and eager to see how their teammates did.
The parents got the ‘scraps’ or whatever was leftover from whatever the girls hadn’t completely polished off in their first pass! They were like hungry little locusts, descending upon the kitchen in numbers and literally, in the blink of an eye, devouring pie pan after pie pan. It was both a wonderful and hilarious sight!
In the end, the entire exercise was an utter and complete success! The girls had a blast and the team camaraderie that was reinforced was priceless. In fact, several days afterwards, some of the girls wanted the recipes we used so that they could make pie on their own, back home!
Who knew making pies could be so fulfilling?! Well…I did, but now, so do many many others!