I consider myself a great baker.
I can make most everything from scratch, and a good percentage by memory. My brownies are to die for, my cakes are divine, and I dare anyone to make a better chocolate-caramel cookie than me. My baklava is legendary. (Thank you, Greek genes.)
I have only had one “biff” in my baking lifetime. It happened a couple years back, with something I had made time and time again. I have no idea what happened, but in the end it was dubbed, “The Abomination” and “The Asshole Black Forest Cake.” It is pictured below, much to my chagrin. But, I’m an honest gal and will show off the pile of shit that it turned out to be. To this day, I can’t tell you what the fuck happened, but at least it still tasted good. Sorry your birthday cake looked like ass, Yia Yia.
After that debacle, my record was spotless again…until tonight.
Now, I’ll admit this was something I had never made before: my Yia Yia’s “Old-time Lemon Pie.” I hand-copied her recipe while sitting at her kitchen table. The same table that I had pretty much learned to bake on. (And may or may not have drawn all over as a kid… What can I say? It was a good thing Papou liked to stain and varnish things.)
My kid was in the basement playing Wii, my husband driving tanks on our big screen. With both boys occupied, I cranked up the A-ha and got to work. Everything was measured out beforehand and the most beautiful Norwegian voice was floating through my headphones.
Somewhere between Holyground and Riding the Crest…something happened.
Lemon curd ceased to be lemon curd. In fact, it never even got to “curd” status. I think in order to be considered “curd”, a substance needs to be thick. This was–not.
I decided to use a few tricks Yia Yia had taught me over the years. I added a little more cornstarch. Upped the heat. Lowered the heat. Added a tad more cornstarch. Swore profusely at it. Called Yia Yia, still swearing. Threatened it.
And all the time, the fucking “curd that was not curd” was laughing at me.
In the end, after reciting her own recipe back to her, we decided that neither of us knew what had happened. Maybe it was goblins, maybe it was the humidity, maybe my cornstarch was possessed. Whatever it was, there was no way it was going to thicken. (and I even left it in the fridge for three hours hoping it would tighten up. No dice.)
So I made a cherry pie instead.
Because screw you, Old-time Lemon Pie.