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Baking Up a (Shit) Storm

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Every year, I bake a billion pies for my family’s Christmas celebration. In fact, up until I started going to Mike’s family’s Thanksgiving, I baked two billion pies a year. TWO BILLION PIES, all completely from scratch. This started after the time that I was 12 and decided I should see if I could make a pie. It was delicious and I’ve been stuck with the job ever since.

However, as you might imagine, baking a billion pies in one day is difficult and highly stressful. This year, I thought it would ease the pain a bit to change it up–maybe not the same old apple, pumpkin, pecan thing I always do. I found some fantastic looking substitutes (though I’m not allowed to not make apple pie), bought seven hundred dollars worth of ingredients (fuck you, maple syrup pie), and decided that it looked kind of stressful after all so maybe I should have some booze so I’m not freaking out.

How to bake two Guinness Chocolate Cakes with Bailey’s Frosting, one Maple Cream Pie, and one Apple Pie in One Night

Step One: Wonder if the cake will actually taste like Guinness and, if it will, if you’ll even like it. Drink a bottle of Guinness to find out. Realize that the cake requires a springform pan, which you only have one of, so you can’t make them both at the same time. Use one cup of Guinness in cake batter, finish second bottle.

Step Two: Preheat the goddamn oven. Pour yourself a glass of wine! You deserve it.

Step Three: Stick the cake in the oven and set the timer. Drink more wine while you prepare the first pie crust. Bring a timer with you to your computer to watch an episode of Torchwood while the cake’s in the oven.

Step Four: Upon removing the cake from the oven, realize that you turned the fucking oven OFF when you set the timer. Pat yourself on the back (read: have a mild nervous breakdown, but you’ve only lost about an hour, which isn’t so bad, right?), wonder what you can mix with eggnog, and try heating the oven again. (Decide on butterscotch schnapps.)

Step Five: When you go to put the cake back in the oven, notice that the springform pan doesn’t seal properly and has dripped all over the stove. Don’t clean it up, but put the cake on a pizza pan so it doesn’t drip more in the oven, since you can already smell burning. Rinse out your glass and pour another glass of wine.

Step Six: Double-check that the oven’s heated. Watch another episode of Torchwood while the cake’s in the oven.

Step Seven: Prepare maple cream pie filling while you par-bake the crust. Wonder if par-baking actually does anything. Filling seems to go perfectly–have a glass of wine to celebrate! Lose track of alcohol consumption.

Step Eight: Remove par-baked crust from the oven and realize you forgot to line it before filling it with beans. Pull each and every individual bean out with your fingernails. Be very glad you didn’t cut your fingernails because fuck this is hot. Stick it back in the oven. Drink.

Step Nine: Pour filling into par-baked crust until it overflows. Stick it on a cookie sheet so it won’t drip and wipe up the huge mess that is now on your counter. Stick it in the oven, set a timer, make sure you didn’t turn the oven off again. Go wrap some presents. Drink.

Step Ten: You ran out of ribbon. Cry. Drink.

Step Eleven: Remove pie #1 from oven. Place on counter. Prepare cake batter #2. Make Harry Potter jokes as you melt two sticks of butter into a cup of Guinness. Things are running smoothly! Drink.

Step Twelve: Get extremely frustrated when the rolling pin seems to slide the entire crust-and-wax-paper assembly around on the counter rather than rolling out the crust. Eventually succeed. Drink.

Step Thirteen: Take cake out of oven. Prepare apple pie filling: Peel apples, cut into slices, cut anything you don’t want off the slices. Eat some apple peel. It is delicious with the Riesling. Start mixing all the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg into the filling but the bowl’s too small and, really, that takes effort. Decide that it looks good enough and it’ll all melt together in the oven anyway. Eat some more peels. Drink.

Step Fourteen: While putting cinnamon and nutmeg back in the spice cabinet, knock everything onto the counter. Realize that “the counter” right there is actually the cream pie you already finished making, which used to be gorgeous but now is just gorged. Have another nervous breakdown. Cry. Drink.

Step Fifteen: Assemble apple pie. Successfully put bottom crust in pie plate. Dump apples in. Don’t even pretend to spread them out evenly. Get top crust from refrigerator. Forget to let it warm up a little before you put it on the pie. Break it into a million pieces. Realize you now have to decide between really ugly pie crust and overworked pie crust. Reassure yourself that rustic patchwork style things are in and it’ll be fine. Make sure each piece of crust is connected to another piece at at least one point. Place pie in oven. Wait. Drink.

Step Sixteen: Remove pie from oven. Let cool. It is now almost 4am. Cover everything with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge. You can do the frosting tomorrow.

Step Seventeen: Wake up at 1pm on Christmas eve, amazed at how not hung over you are. Brush your teeth. Trigger gag reflex with toothbrush and realize that you are, in fact, hung over. Whine incessantly about still having to make frosting. Drink some Pepto Bismol straight out of the bottle.

Step Eighteen: Begin to feel better. Prepare frosting for two cakes. Frost one cake, transport second batch separately. Wonder if you made the apple pie last night. Check the fridge. See apple pie. Wonder if you baked it long enough. It looks done. Hope.

Step Nineteen: Transport everything. You did it! Maybe. The jury’s still out on the apple pie. Agonize over the integrity of your apple pie, suppressing a third (mini) nervous breakdown.

Step Twenty: It is now Christmas. All you have left to do is frost that last cake, putting aside some of the frosting for the people in your family who can’t have gluten, and you’re good. (Except for that apple pie. Maybe. Still not sure.) Go to frost the cake and realize that the frosting has hardened in the fridge. Freak out. Attempt to stir frosting back into a reasonable texture. It won’t work. Attach to kitchenaid and whisk. Not changing anything. Finally, your aunt looks up how to fix a meringue buttercream and miraculously saves Christmas with a pan of hot water. Frost your cake. Realize that the apple pie is delicious, though it does seem like you may have put a quarter cup of cinnamon into it. Bask in the glow of a job well done.

My Holiday Miracle was that these desserts were finished and actually pretty damn tasty. What was yours?


About Rachael

Hi. I'm Rachael. I realized one day that, even though I read a lot of books, I often have a hard time remembering them later on. I guess that happens when there's so much to try to remember! So I started The 50 Book Project, with the intention to read and blog about 50 new (to me) books in 2014. I read a lot of fantasy, but I'm trying to branch out and experience new stuff. Any questions? Suggestions? Let me know! Comment, or email me at

8 responses »

  1. Oh, Rachael,
    Your apple pie was delicious. And the patchwork is just how Grammy always made it, so even more perfect! I finished what I had left of the apple pie for breakfast. It was mostly crust left., the best part. I have had Guinness Chocolate Cake with Baileys frosting the past 2 nights for dessert, one more piece left. The frosting is killer and cake very moist, yum! I haven’t tried the Maple Cream pie yet but have one large piece. Maybe for breakfast tomorrow?!
    Love, Mommy

  2. I want the recipe for the Guinness cake with Baileys frosting…..pretty please! I am going out today to buy Guinness and Baileys so please don’t leave me hanging and make me just have to drink it!

    • Oh god! Sorry this took so long. I’ve updated the post to include links to the recipes. The Guinness Cake recipe is in British, though, so you might need to translate measurements. (There’s a page for it on that site.)

  3. For some reason I feel the need to do the same thing every year, for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. I end up having to make a minimum of 4 pies per holiday, 2 of which are required to be pumpkin and pecan. I always forget that my tiny oven can only bake 1 pie at a time (you could potentially put a pie on a second oven rack for simultaneous baking, except that my oven has only 1 rack). This means I’ve got to bake each one separately, which generally leads to Midnight Baking Madness, in which I come to the realization that I will not be sleeping for many hours to come because I have (yet again) underestimated exactly how long it takes to make 4 pies at once.

    I went a little insane last year while baking for my boyfriend’s family. He told me at 9pm the night before Thanksgiving that we were expected to bring desserts and I have a psychotic rule about never, ever bringing baked goods that aren’t homemade so there I was in the kitchen, sloshing pumpkin pie filling into my oven floor at 11pm, knowing there was no end in sight.

    • I could never bring a store-bought baked good to a holiday gathering, so I completely understand. And my brother and I always used to both bake stuff, so we’d each only get one day in the kitchen, and there were holidays that I’d make seven pies so everyone could take one home, too, and holy shit. And I feel your pain on the spilling pumpkin pie filling thing. Stuff is a bitch.

  4. Oh, so that’s what that “butterbeer” text was all about! Two thumbs up; fine holiday fun.

  5. I am like this, but with cookies. And without the intoxication. But I am always up super late baking massive batches of cookies to take to some event (office holiday party, kids class parties/teacher gifts, holidays) the next day! You sound like a pro at this baking/drinking thing, though. Maybe it even improved your skills? Hmmm, might try this next time.


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