Making Pies

Once there was a young wombat named Benson, who lived in a nice, comfortable wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

Aunt Lillibet decided to make a pie.

“What kind of pie are you going to make?” Benson asked.

“I was thinking of making an apple pie,” she said.

Benson’s tummy started to feel warm and happy.

“Would you like some help?” Benson’s mother said.

Aunt Lillibet said, “No, thank you. You know that you and I don’t make pies the same way.”

Benson said, “How can there be more than one way to make a pie? It’s just pastry with apple in between.”

Aunt Lillibet said, “That’s what you think. When I make a pie, I do it the same way my mother did, and her mother and her mother. It’s a traditional recipe, tried and tested. Your mother just makes a pie.”

Benson started to get an idea. An apple pie would be great. Two apple pies would be even better.

“Which one tastes better?” he asked craftily.

Aunt Lillibet said, “The traditional way, of course.”

Benson’s mother said, “Of course, your pies are always delicious, Lillibet, but there’s nothing wrong with the way I make pies. In the end, a pie is just a pie.”

Benson said, “We can’t really tell, can we, unless we compare them.”

Aunt Lillibet said, “All right, we’ll both make a pie and then we’ll have a taste-testing and we’ll see whose pie is better.”

Benson smiled very widely and his mother looked hard at him. She opened her mouth to say something, but then she shut it again and just nodded.

Benson started to imagine himself sitting in front of two pies, with a big spoon in his hand.

Aunt Lillibet got out the big bowl and she measured flour into it. She rubbed butter into the flour and added some sugar and an egg, and just a little water. She mixed them together until she had a ball of yellow pastry. She rolled out the pastry until it was smooth and even, and then she lifted it carefully into the pie dish and patted it down. She cut off the spare pastry and made a pretty edge all around the edge of the dish.

Benson’s mother got a sheet of frozen pastry out of the freezer. When it was soft, she cut out a circle and dropped it into the pie dish. “Done,” she said.

Aunt Lillibet chose the best apples, two green, three red and one yellow. She peeled them and sliced them and put them in a saucepan with some water. “Don’t look!” she said. “The mixture of spices is a secret handed down from mother to daughter for generations.” She sprinkled some spices in, and stirred it around. When the apple was cooked, she arranged it evenly in the pastry in the pie dish.

Benson’s mother got some apples from the fruit bowl and took the seeds and cores out. Then she chopped them up with her big chopper and piled them into the pie dish. She sprinkled in a bit of cinnamon. “Done,” she said.

Aunt Lillibet rolled out the rest of her pastry and carefully lifted it on top of the apple in the pie dish. She trimmed around the edges and then she made little leaves out of the trimmings, and arranged them beautifully on top of the pie. Then she popped it into the oven.

Benson’s mother got another sheet of pastry from the freezer and cut it into a circle and put it on top of her pie. She painted the top of the pie with some milk, and sprinkled some sugar on top. “Done,” she said. She popped it into the oven.

“Benson,” she said, “would you help Aunt Lillibet wash the dishes, please? I’m just going out for a minute.”

Benson didn’t mind washing up, because the kitchen was warm and filled with the smell of baking pies.

His mother came back just when it was time to take the pies out of the oven. They both looked absolutely perfect. One was brown and golden, and the other was golden brown.

Benson couldn’t wait to start pie-tasting. He got a big spoon and sat down at the table.

“Just a minute, Benson,” his mother said. “I was worried that if you liked my pie better, you might not want to say so in case it was rude to Aunt Lillibet, and if you liked Aunt Lillibet’s pie better, you might not want to say so in case it hurt my feelings. So I asked some friends along to help you.”

She opened the door and Mr Fenn and Uncle Elton and Benson’s cousin Elmer walked in. Aunt Moss was there too, with her friend Shelley.

Benson’s face fell. Two pies and one wombat would have been a lot better than two pies and eight wombats. But then he cheered up. It was a lot better than one wombat and no pies.

Aunt Lillibet and Benson’s mother gave everyone a piece of both pies and they set to work tasting.

“This one’s delicious,” Uncle Elmer said, “but I like the pastry on the other one better.”

“The apple in this one is too mushy,” Mr Fenn said. “I like my apple a bit crunchier than this.”

Shelley said, “I love the apple in this one. Did you put in cloves or cinnamon?”

In no time at all, both pies were gone and everyone was sitting with empty plates, looking content.

Aunt Lillibet looked hard at Benson and said, “Well, Benson, which pie would you say was the best?”

Benson stood up and cleared his throat. “They were both very nice,” he said, and everyone nodded and agreed. “In fact, they were both extremely delicious. But I think…” He looked at Aunt Lillibet and he looked at his mother. “The best one was…” he thought hard and said, “…the first one I tried.”

Aunt Lillibet said, “Which one was that?”

Benson looked at the empty plates and the happy faces around the table. “Umm, I’m not sure,” he said. “Do you think we could start again?”

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