I’m certain the 25 pies entered into the third annual Outagamie County Fair pie contest came from a multitude of inspirations. There were sour cherry and apple pies made from grandmother’s recipe, neatly scrawled on a stained recipe card. Nature inspired pies like Raspberry Rose and Apple Bud. However, I’m certain mine was the only pie inspired by a song.
As a stress baker, some of my best recipe ideas come at some of the most inopportune times for baking: a new cupcake recipe in the middle of a test, a cookie idea at the precipice of a roller coaster drop.
Such was the case this past finals week. I sat in my dorm-room blasting J-Council and pouring over Middle-English literature, when the idea for a “Sun to Sun Pie” popped into my head Now, I should point out that I had neither the time to make this pie, nor the oven to bake it in. The best my little kitchenette could muster was a little toaster oven, a hot plate, and a microwave… not exactly great tools for a baker. But after I turned in my last exam, I began investigating the best places a poor ovenless baker could practice her pies. Friends opened their oven doors for me and, on more than one occasion, I rode the bus with an unbaked pie in my lap. I won’t lie to you, I used the toaster oven more than once. While the edges came out a little darker than I would have like, it worked, though I can’t recommend it.
I brought pies to club meetings, birthday parties, and movie nights. I pushed even my kindest friends to give a critique. After probably eight practice pies, I wouldn’t blame my taste-testers if they never wanted to see peaches in the company of lemons again. Years from now they’ll grow silent and moody at the sight of peach lemonade. I even skipped a trip to Colorado for the competition. In the end, though, my obsession paid off. I took home the winning blue plate and several delicious samples from my fellow competitors.
Since the competition, Mile of Music has provided more than enough inspiration for more pies: Songbird pie (Honey-Sour Cherry with a Walnut crumble), Freshly Laundered Linen Pie (Lemon-Strawberry-Mint). My initial inspiration has carried me through mishaps and triumphs “Every day is perfect if you let it be one.” I can attest, from blue-plate winning to stiff-crusted soupy-filling, every pie is perfect if you let it be.