In our family, I’m the pie baker — as such I know each of our family’s favorites. Baking an apple crumb pie, chocolate with whipped cream, cherry and pumpkin at Thanksgiving fills the bill for everyone, except our daughter, Jennifer. For years she’s groused about me not making lemon pie —so last week I made lemon tarts. No more sourpuss.
With my late Aunt Shelia’s no-fail pastry recipe, making pies isn’t difficult, and rolling out pastry is even easier with the Bethany Pastry Cloth and board I bought in Iowa. The board is covered with a cloth marked with different pie sizes that serve as a guide. Come to find out you don’t have to drive to Iowa to get one —they’re all over the internet. Who knew?
The Best of the Best
This Thanksgiving, our daughter Rebecca asked if she could make the apple crumb pie. She loves to cook, and no one makes a finer from-scratch cake. They dazzle in deliciousness, but pretty they aren’t.
Rebecca’s daughter Phoebe has a birthday the week before Thanksgiving and Rebecca always has us over for dinner and birthday cake. There’s only one place I’ve ever had better cake than at our daughter’s house in Kirkwood — and that’s in England where Victoria sponge cake rules.
In England one year, we stopped en route to Scotland to eat at a restaurant with good reviews. I went through a cafeteria line, excitedly adding a slice of Victoria sponge cake to my tray. Next to the cake was a barrel-size bowl of whipped cream. Not realizing it would be runny, the cream I ladled on my plate overflowed, oozed over my hand and wrist, landing with a plop on the Brit floor I prayed would open.
Rivals the Brits
Rebecca’s cakes are a close second to Victoria’s —for my November birthday she made a vanilla cake with butter cream frosting that wasn’t much to look at but tasted yummy. When she told me the cake and icing called for six sticks of butter, I understood why. Two weeks later on Phoebe’s birthday, Rebecca used a different cake recipe, and turned the icing pink, but just like mine it listed as if in a brisk wind.
“I think I’m going to start a business called ‘Becky’s Ugly Cakes,’ ” she said recently, after some good natured ribbing. The discussion digressed into past years, and her cake-capers.
Rebecca shone when she made a castle cake with several layers and turrets with flags — pure magic. She also scored with a volcano cake that puffed smoke from its center, and she got lots of thumbs-up for a sunny-yellow cake with multi-colored flowers, but the buck stopped with the blue Frozen cake. It needed to be frozen to keep it from slip-sliding away.
Made for a Good Story
Most comical of all was her Barbie dress-cake exploit in 2015; a circular extravaganza of tiered ruffles frosted white and pink were supposed to surround the stand-up doll. When we arrived Barbie was still in the tub — literally. The dress didn’t pan out, so Rebecca baked another two layers and laid Barbie on top.
Posterior sunk into the middle of the icing, the blonde reclined amid a frothy array of aqua and white candy balls that made her look like she was in a bubble bath, a cake flop her family called “Barbie in a Hot Tub.”
Swimsuit Ken loved it, but Rebecca was disappointed.
We weren’t. The cake was wonderful, as always. Bring on the next birthday, please.