I have never been a big fan of baking. My family does not have a sweet tooth (except for my husband and he agrees that extra calories are not needed), so I have never felt a need to perfect my baking skills. Except for those occasions when I am asked to supply items for a local fundraiser. It’s then that I regret my lack of practice.
Those are always trying times because as anyone knows, when presentable baked goods are needed, a flop is inevitable. I was particularly prone to baking failures because I often like to “wing it” when I cook and I always seem to be in a hurry. Baking requires precise measurements and a fair dose of patience, so I am at a disadvantage even before I begin.
But it was one particular occasion that almost drove me to drink. As fate would have it, every club and organization that I belonged to in town (which was quite a few) decided to have a bake table at the local Kinette flea market. That meant preparing 3-5 items for each of five different groups. (You do the math – it’s a whack of baking!) As an involved member of each organization, I was bound and determined to fulfill my obligations, since my attempts to just give cash were met with blank stares. That, and the fact that most of the other women not only baked but also made items that looked like they belonged in a photo shoot for a magazine made me feel that I had to measure up.
So after school on Friday, the baking frenzy began and everyone in the family knew enough to stay out of my way. By late (very late) Friday evening I was quite pleased with my progress as I surveyed two perfect chiffon cakes (minus the icing which was another challenge), several packages of reasonable-looking cookies, and a batch of muffins which sat on the countertop.
But my pride and joy were my pies. Pies are always a big seller and for some strange reason I was fairly proficient at making pies. (It might have had something to do with the fact that I love eating pie.) Three lovely-looking apple pies were ready to go and a lemon pie sat cooling on the island which is right across from my wall oven. (The relevance of the fact shall become apparent in a moment.)
Two more lemon pies were in the oven where the mile-high meringue was turning a toasty brown on the tips. It was time to remove them from the oven before the meringue burned. I had prepared the pies in foil pie pans, but to give them extra support I had placed them on a large cookie sheet. As I pulled the sheet out of the oven and turned to the island, perhaps a bit too quickly (remember my impatience plus by this time I was dead tired), the pies slid to the edge of the sheet, caught the lip and before I could say, “Give me a break!” they tipped over the side.
If that wasn’t bad enough, they both landed on the pie that was cooling. Sometimes not even pie is easy!