How to Rescue a Failed Apple Pie

“As simple as Apple Pie” is a cruel misnomer as any novice cook can attest. An Apple pie is not simple or easy and even after all that peeling, slicing, rolling and fitting can go terribly wrong. But, to misquote Einstein, imagination is more important than culinary skills when it comes to creating a tasty dessert.

Some imaginative solutions can save the desert in its original form as a pie such as replacing a burned top crust by removing it and replacing it with a crumb topping brown sugar, flour or oatmeal and a little a little vanilla cut into butter with a pastry cutter (or your hands if they are very, very clean). In fact, shortbread cookies, oatmeal cookies, stale muffins or anything sweet can serve as a crumb topping, mixed with some butter to give it holding power (“cut” into the butter as they say) and a few nuts can add a little something as well. This can work with just the apples, too. Flour, sugar, butter and baking powder will make a substitute top crust that will be puffy and more cake like.

If the bottom crust is still raw but the top is done, you can stick it back in the oven on a low rack for another 20 minutes covered in tin foil. Sometimes this works; the alternative is to turn it upside down on a rimmed pan, like a large cake pan, and brown the bottom crust under the broiler. It is now upside down pie and will not slice beautifully; just serve it already covered by ice cream and no one will be the wiser. If they are, they are paying too much attention to a free meal.

Apples and top crust can be scooped out and layered as a parfait with ice cream, pudding or even yogurt if you have let the pie cool enough (hot pie will cuddle yogurt). Use a tall glass and top with whipped cream if you have it and a raw apple slice. For that matter, if the filling is cool, just apples, a bit of crust and whipped cream should be enough to make anyone happy.

You can accessorize these failed and reborn creations with a variety of things. Sprinkle the ice cream or whipped cream with cinnamon and finely chopped apples and nuts for instance, or crush some toffee or pralines (I personally Always have pralines in my pantry) on top of anything sweet and you can improve it. Or lace with caramel sauce ice cream topping maybe – or melt some butter in a saucepan and stir in brown sugar until bubbly, then add apple juice, water or bourbon (the alcohol will evaporate) and cook over a low flame until it thicken. Yum.

A failure in the kitchen is just an excuse to be inventive. Remember that and you can untie your apron strings from a cook book forever.