On a cold winter afternoon when I was in DC, I met David at Kramerbooks Cafe for dessert and coffee. We didn’t really plan on the dessert part but, I saw the apple pie in the display case. It had me at hello.
When I was growing up in the Philippines, apples were a luxury. We could only have them on special occasions. Back then, I associated apple pies with Christmas. I remember the smell of butter and cinnamon wafting throughout the house on Christmas eve when my mother baked them from scratch. I could never wait until after dinner to eat pie.
All of this changed when we moved to the U.S. many years later. Apples were inexpensive and every store sold pie. My mother didn’t have to slave in the kitchen all day. My father bought apple pie from the grocery store every week.
There was a downside to all of this. The store-bought pies were always a disappointment. It never tasted as buttery as my mother’s freshly baked pie. It contained too much sugar masking the tartness of the apples. It also had a gelatinous consistency I didn’t like.
Baking was always intimidating to me. I love to cook but baking, to me, required more time and work. But, a few years ago at Christmastime, I craved freshly baked apple pie. Intimidated or not, I had to have one and the only way I could was to make it myself.
I remember vividly that first pie crust. I’m sure I missed a step or forgot an ingredient. The dough was fragile, breaking in bits and pieces when I rolled it out. Although the filling was delicious, I couldn’t quite call it a pie without a fully formed crust. Luckily, my next pie baking episode was much better.
Over this past holiday, I had every intention of baking one but, I never quite got around to it. So, when I saw the pie that January afternoon at Kramerbooks, it was kismet.