The Tale of Two Pies

This is the tale of two pies. Both were filled with lemony goodness, but while one saw the bottom of the garbage can, the other was a creamy concoction enjoyed by friends.

The story begins with a trip to the library. A cookbook beckoned me: a collection of recipes from Magpie, a pie “boutique” in Philadelphia. As I flipped through the gorgeous photographs of unique and quirky pies with names like “blackberry bourbon pie with lavender cream” and “chocolate peanut butter mouse pie with pretzel crunch,” I visualized my next project. I would select a few recipes and bake them for friends, and perhaps a blog post or two would come from my adventures.

My eyes spied “lemon curd pie.” Oh, how I adore anything with lemons, especially baked goods. Lemon cake. Lemon bars. Lemon cookies. Lemon icing. Lemons are gifts from the universe. 

I first began with the pie crust dough recipe from Magpie. My go-to is all butter. It’s easy and delicious and rarely fails, but this recipe used a combination of butter and Crisco. Okay, I thought, I’ll give it a try. It was crumbly and more difficult to handle, and it required a day in the refrigerator before rolling into a crust. I carefully followed each step. The blind baked crust was just waiting for its filling.

I gathered the ingredients for the lemon curd. Let’s see. Lemons, of course. Sugar, cornstarch, six eggs, butter, salt, and vanilla. Looked simple. I added the ingredients to the pan, turned on the heat, and began to whisk. The directions stated, “cook the mixture, whisking constantly to prevent it from curdling.” So I whisked away. The yellow combination began to thicken…and thicken…and thicken…until I could barely get by whisk through it. “Is this how it’s supposed to look? It should doesn’t resemble the photograph,” I thought. But I was determined to finish. The directions said to whisk for ten minutes or until the temperature reached 160 degrees. What I got was a gloop that looked like scrambled eggs. This isn’t lemon curd pie, all creamy and gooey. But I had a crust, so I thought perhaps the filling would even out in the baking process, so I put the pie in the oven, hoping for a miracle.

Alas, this wasn’t the outcome. After I placed the pie on a rack, I pinched a small bite. Oh my, it was disgusting. It tasted like a combination of cardboard and saw dust. I had allowed the curd to curdle (ironic, huh?), and therefore, destroyed the pie. I waved goodbye as I dumped it into the garbage can. Sorry, lemon curd pie. I barely knew thee.

Not to be discouraged, a few days later I prepared another lemon pie. This one was a Pinterest recipe I found last year that is almost fail-proof. The filling is mixed together without any cooking necessary, and I also returned to my butter crust. As I fed it to two of my friends, they “ahhed” and “oooed” over this lemony creation.

Sometimes it is fun to experiment with new ideas and projects, but the known is good, too. An unwalked path invites new adventures. A road you journey every day brings peace and comfort.  

That is the lesson of the two pies. Sometimes life ends up in the garbage, and other times it delivers sighs of delight. It’s as simple as pie.

(And if you want to try the Lemon Chess Pie, here is the link:


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