Week 14: it’s not pretty, but ugly oaty maple pie is darn tasty

This week’s pie was a sure test of my goal to try not to see the world entirely through my perfectionist glasses. That is because this week’s pie was not pretty. Honestly, as I took it out of the oven I said, “Why hello Ugly Pie.” This was for sure Perfectionist Me talking, because my fella looked at it over my shoulder and declared, “No, it’s not ugly, it’s rustic.” It was too late however, because since that moment we are both calling it Ugly Pie. (As in, “Hey, can I have some Ugly Pie?” “Is there any Ugly Pie left?” “I sure feel like a little Ugly Pie…”) We have a little green book that we use to record the best things that we make so that we remember where we got the recipes months down the road, and this pie made it into the Green Book. It was entered into the book as “Ugly Pie.”

The discovery of Ugly Pie reminded me of another entry in our green book. At least five years ago I made a cake that was so sad-looking, it became legendary. I think I remember taking it out of the oven too soon, and then realizing my error about ten minutes later, I stuck it back in trying to save it. But to no avail, because it sagged in the middle as it cooled and it ended up a little too brown on the edges. Back then I was even more of a perfectionist that I am today, so needless to say, I did not take the ugly cake very well. We lived in a condo at the time and my perfectionism had driven me to dump a few desserts I deemed to be “failures” down the garbage chute, even though my boy tried to stop me. (One of those times he managed to, and thank goodness, because if not, we might never have tasted my now famous peppermint patty brownies. I cannot believe I almost pitched those). This time it was all I could do not to march that cake down the hall and send it hurtling down the chute to a dramatic and satisfying end. I didn’t do that though. I remembered the brownies. Instead, I wrote a note beside the cake and left it to finish cooling in all of its ugliness on the kitchen counter and I went for a walk so I wouldn’t be home when my guy found it there. I did not want to talk about my cake. I did not want to look at my cake. I wanted my cake to disappear, but I resisted and instead of being wasteful and silly, I disappeared instead. I just needed a little time apart from the Ugly Cake.

This is the note (stuck into our green book):

(Pretty good penmanship for a cake, huh?)

Mr. Cake ended up being much-loved. Mr. Cake was delicious even though he was ugly. So I remembered Mr. Cake this week when I took my pie out of the oven, and I thought about how tasty he had been and I set the pie onto the cooling rack and told myself, “Not all pies will be beautiful, but I am not going to judge this one until I have eaten some.” What you can’t see from my picture of the pie is that one whole side of the crust slid down during the blind bake so that it looked crazily lopsided (kind of like a drunken pie that was having trouble standing upright). Clever me to take a picture that disguised this imperfection, yes?

Let me say that as soon as I had one bite of oaty maple pie, I forgot how “rustic” it looked. I was thinking only thank you to the genius who decided to put oats into a creamy maple-laced custard held together with a crisp, sugary crust edge. I will make this pie, Ugly Pie, again and again. It might look humble (rustic, a little plain, ugly… whatever word you choose), but it deserves a place beside any pumpkin or apple or any traditionally Fall pie I’ve ever met. Make it. You won’t need to worry about its appearance because you won’t be sharing it. Trust me.

The recipe came from seven spoons. Thank you seven spoons, thank you over and over. I made it exactly as written, except I used my own crust recipe (the one here). I’ll just add that it is all the more mouth-watering with a dollop of Greek yogurt or creme fraiche cuddling up close to it.

Blue Ribbon for buttery maple cream filling.


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