When I was little, I had the same birthday party every year. I would have a sleepover that included my best friends, dinner, games, and cake. Dinner was always and without fail: soy chicken (which I know that I still haven’t told you about, but I’ll get there, I promise) with steamed broccoli and carrots, and rice. Then there was cake. One year my mom made me a Bûche de Noël, a French cake shaped like a log. (Honestly, I don’t remember too many of the other ones. I think there was a Rainbow Brite cake in there somewhere, but my memory of those years is a little shaky.) (Also, Bûche de Noël is a really beautiful cake, something that must be experienced, despite it being shaped like a log.)
Basically, what mattered to me was the soy chicken, and the fact that there was a cake at all. I mean, what’s a birthday without a birthday cake?
So the year that I moved in with Jeff, when March rolled around, it was only natural that I offer to make a birthday cake. Anything you want, I promised. Chocolate? Vanilla? Layers? You got it.
“Pie,” was what he said, not missing a beat. “I want an apple pie. My mom makes the best one. Can I have a pie? We can get her recipe.”
I was not thrilled with this idea. Who ever heard of a birthday pie? But what was I going to say? You can’t deny your best guy his birthday desert (especially after you not-so-subtly try to make him see the error of his ways and he insists on his right to have a birthday pie because it is his birthday after all). So I made a pie. (I also made a cake, to make myself feel better.) It was a perfectly good apple pie. The recipe turned out to be a keeper, even. But I secretly hoped that 2006 would be the year of the birthday pie and then we wouldn't hear anything more about it and could happily go back to cake.
No. No, no, and no. Apple pie is probably Jeff's number one most requested desert. So I took it to myself to learn to make a mean apple pie, and I think it's worked out. Jeff is happy, anyway. If you’re going to have a birthday pie, this one isn’t a bad one to have in your arsenal (Jeff would even argue that it’s really the only one that you need). It bursts with apples, and tastes like them too, unlike so many pies that call for too much sugar and washes them out with cinnamon. It’s quite good. If you make one, think of us.
And wish Jeff a happy birthday, while you’re at it.
Birthday Pie (Lorie’s Apple Pie)
2 pats of pie crust, chilled
6 cups apples, peeled cored, and thinly sliced (anything tart will do)
1 scant cup sugar (I usually cut it by a few tablespoons, but I like a tarter pie)
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ginger
zest of ½ lemon
2 tablespoons butter, diced
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Roll out one pie crust and place in pie pan. Be sure to leave a little overhang. Set aside.
3. Combine sugar, flour, spices, zest, and a dash of salt, and mix with apples. Tumble apples into the waiting pie crust, and dot with butter.
4. Roll the second pie crust and lay it on top of the apples; press crusts together into a pretty pattern.
5. Bake 50 minutes. If crust gets too brown, put some tin foil over it while it’s still baking.