After a completely wonderful 5-day trip to Seattle and Portland (major west coast win) and 3 days of oddly rough jet lag, I finally felt human enough to bake again! My a cappella group has been prepping for the first-ever Varsity Vocals International Championship of A Cappella Open Northeast Semifinals (nerd alert) for the past two months, and I thought I'd bring this Big Guy Strawberry Pie along with me to the competition as a midday pick-me-up. As glamorous (ha) as this may sound, being holed up in a hot dressing room for almost twelve hours as eight groups sound check and rehearse and panic can sometimes be pretty stressful, so…pie!
What's Inside: Take a wild guess! Besides the strawberries, you've got some strawberry jam and butter.
1) Don't bother making the crust look good until you've gotten the strawberries in and the top crust on. GUYS, I made the MOST BEAUTIFUL pie crust I've ever made in my life. It seriously looked store-bought.
And it was still beautiful after adding the strawberries…
And then THIS happened.
2) Good news! You can dress up your ugly pie with fun cookie cutter dough shapes!
3) Don't overload your crust with the strawberries. I make this mistake almost every time I bake. You can see them starting to ooze out of the crust in the photo above. The oozing gets worse as time goes on until you bake your pie and let it cool only to find that your tin is stuck to the baking sheet and you have to use unconventional methods, methods I will not attempt to describe, to pry it free.
4) Let's chat whipped cream. This recipe includes instructions for basil whipped cream to top each slice of pie. It was all going so well until I used the wrong mixer attachment to whip my cream. I ended up with a curdled, yet delicious spread of sorts. I tried to google ways to correct this and wound up giving up. Moral of the story: use the whisk attachment on your mixer. And if you mess up, carry on, because the taste makes up for the presentation.
What Baking Can Do:
Despite my whipped cream difficulties, I cobbled together what I think were very presentable pie slices in our competition dressing room. I packed up my pie in my brand-new pie carrier, put my curdled cream into a container, threw some basil leaves in a plastic bag, and went on my merry way to Manhattan.
Here are some Lost Keys having a little pre-lunch pie snack. Keiji is snacking on his pitch pipe.
We went second in the competition, so we were able to enjoy the rest of the show and more of the pie during intermission.
This makes it seem like there are only five of us in this group, but I swear there are way more.
Despite all of our best efforts, we didn't wind up placing in the competition. And where do people go when they need to celebrate or forget? The bar! Here's my favorite moment of the night from Steph and Sarah. Just…thank you for this.
Even though we didn't win, our two best friend a cappella groups did place! I made Andrew from Backtrack Vocals pose with his spoonful of pie. Thanks for being such a good sport, Andrew. And congrats to both Backtrack Vocals and Stiletta! I can't wait to watch the Carnegie Hall finals!
Oh, and on the cab ride home, Peter asked me for my "basil butter" recipe (aka my failed whipped cream). I think he's onto something.