“Sugar, Butter, Flour”
For Christmas, I was given a pie cookbook; a beautiful, thin, hardback volume full to the brim with ideas and tips and recipes for America's deep dished past time. This hard crust collection isn’t your regular recipe book, it’s inspired by the Broadway hit musical Waitress.
The show is based on the 2007 cult film of the same name with music by Grammy Award nominee and all-around good person Sara Bareilles. It’s the story of Jenna, a kind-hearted waitress who stuck in an abusive relationship with her husband. When she discovers she is pregnant with his baby she ends up having an affair with her sweet but doe-eyed gynaecologist. Her talent is baking pies, she creates fresh new pies every day for the diner she works at and a regional pie baking completion looks like a way out for her and her unborn child.
We found a recipe we both liked the sound of called, Big Guy Strawberry Pie; “Strawberries doubled up with preserves and topped with basil whipped cream”. Chosen because of its classic look and entry-level skills required to make it. Once the ingredients were sourced we began with the crust and the cream, took a break for the pastry to rise and cream to chill, went for dinner and returned to the kitchen.
In hindsight, baking (or doing anything in the kitchen) with a large glass of wine in hand isn’t advisable. However, if I hadn’t filled my glass (to others a medium container) full of wine we couldn’t have used the bottle as a rolling pin… something we didn’t check before going to the supermarket.
We finished rolling the pastry with our improvised vino pin, shaped it in the pie dish, mixed the filling and whipped the cream, the waiting game was the actual baking portion. We mustered whatever self-control we had not to keep opening the oven door to check/ smell it (a cardinal sin of baking) but it still happened.
Jenna copes with life by conceptualizing her problems into pie ingredients and envisioning her future through recipes she blends together in her mind. Thought the show whenever she’s faced with a conflict or problem we go into her mind and see her pull together a pastry based coping mechanism that’s used to both dramatic and comedic effect.
The literal process of baking a pie from scratch is therapeutic and freeing. The boyfriend and I discovered that the physicality off mixing and kneading the dough is good to get out frustration and aggression as demonstrated by Jenna in the song ‘What Baking Can Do’ where she slams the dough on the table and belts “I’ll show them all how God damn happy I am”. For Jenna it's a way of getting rid of her concerns and worries; "I’ll slice and serve my worries away” a technique akin to writing your worries on paper, scrunching it up and throwing it in the bin and investing in baking a pie is more of an emotional commitment.
The time required to leave the filling and dough to set forces you to be patient and considered, if you’re like me, the worst part about baking is the waiting and cooling, but it's conceivably the most critical part of the baking process. That said we didn’t wait the allotted cooling time until eating but it smelled so good and tasted like heaven.
If you want the full recipe for this you can find it here at Jenna's Pie Place, a site dedicated to the recipes in both the film and the musical.