When I first started practicing yoga seriously, I remember my teacher guiding our class through variations of Eka Pada Rajakapotasana-otherwise known as Pidgeon Pose-with the intention of meeting the areas speaking to us with interest. This is a loud posture, one that requires us to settle into the intensity; at my teacher’s mention of observation, I stopped floundering and surrendered into (mildly) comfortable discomfort.
Fast forward a couple years, in which I find myself rolling out cardamom-infused tahini pie crust for a perfect, end-of-summer cherry pie. It isn’t the wafts of sugar and spice that bring my mind to an uncomfortable place. While tending to the dough, I begin connecting, briefly, the last time I used my rolling pin for a similar purpose:
Perhaps I am too ambitious at times (says the girl whose teacher caught her red-handed using those five ujjayi breaths in Ashtanga to explore how her fingers bind in Marichyasana D). I say this because, friends, this pie, here, made with sesame paste and cardamom, is the result of my neurotically pouring over literature (pie literature, the best kind) in an effort to learn a new skill. Despite my extensive research, it is, at its core, the second pie recipe I have made, ever. And I couldn’t spare five seconds to not substitute weird ingredients. With its perfectly syrupy cherries and its salty-sweet, buttery tahini crust, it made me think of its predecessor.
I had spent the day at a new friend’s house, in the presence of a self-proclaimed pie connoisseur. As I monitored the crust for signs of burning, she calmly talked me through the process of what has previously been my most feared culinary venture. I know, I know. Pie is not that scary, right? YOU GIANT, LYING LIAR. Pies are terrifying. How does anyone even venture to compete with the idyllic, homemade rounds we recall resting on any given grandmother’s windowsill? You can’t. But that day, I faced unforeseen territory, and I learned a lot in the process.
The thing we don’t realize about pie-making is that it is humanlike. All that pastry wants is your time and heartfelt attention. You watch it and you tent aluminum foil at the slightest burn and you care for it because its outcome, however inconsequential to your own existence, matters. It was an informative few hours, and I left with my pie wrapped in my apron-still setting-and no clue that I was walking directly into the flame. Developing the recipe you see here, I remembered: the last time I made a pie was a really, really bad day.
It had started raining over the course of the afternoon, and I was stuck in traffic for hours. Given that this was not Minneapolis, the high volume of cars already populating the streets did not adjust to the bad weather forecasting: More Bad Weather. Relieved to escape the confounding grids of brake lights, I covered my pie with my jacket and ran through the rain.
This is the portrait of a normal day, I know. This is what it looked like before I encountered something difficult.
I spent a period of time afterward feeling misunderstood. I ended some friendships. I weirded out some people who used to know me by finally voicing how they consistently made me feel. I did some things that didn’t make sense to those who didn’t know what was going on, and I didn’t bother to explain why. I lost a few people and things along the way, but the thing is: I found a lot. A lot, a lot. And the support network I have now is comprised of those who do not expect me to explain myself, anyway.
It doesn’t matter what happened. What matters is that we understand that maybe we are not entitled. Maybe we don’t see the way things circle back into the round that is an existence. Maybe we don’t always have the privilege of learning how the lines got there. Maybe we never get to know that it was a fork that gently left its mark upon metaphorical pie crust, repeatedly. Maybe we won’t ever grasp the way things have woven together, like slices of pie dough folding over and under one another. Sometimes, we only encounter the result of all that came beforehand. Never forget that in each and every thing that stands before you, there is a labyrinth that aligned, and you just happened to cross it. Respect that. Hold it like a dandelion.
And if that labyrinth happens to be made out of tahini cardamom pie crust, and it houses two pounds of cherries bubbling beneath, then maybe (at your discretion) try to eat it, too. Just-please-use common sense.
One Year: Coconut Oil Shortbread with Dates and Walnuts
Two Years: Trottole with Olive Pistou
Three Years: Marzipan Lingonberry Swirl Scone Cake with Buttermilk Glaze
Cherry Lattice Pie with Tahini Cardamom Crust
Makes one 9-inch Pie
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt, plus more for egg wash
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 cup ice cold water
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks, or 12 tbsp) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1/4 cup tahini
2 lbs fresh cherries, pitted and sliced in half
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more for crust
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp lemon juice
splash of milk
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom. Add cubed butter and tahini and use fingers to rub into the dry ingredients until a coarse, moist dough forms. Pour in 1/4 cup of water and continue to rub the dough with your fingers until it becomes moist, but slightly shaggy. The dough is ideal when it holds together when squeezed with the fingers. If the dough is still dry, feel free to add an additional tablespoon or two of water. Mould the dough into two separate rounds, then wrap in plastic and chill for up to an hour. Once the dough has chilled, preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Flour a clean counter or a large cutting board, and gently sprinkle flour over one round of dough. Use a rolling pin to roll out into a flat circle, about 10-11 inches in diameter. Gently fold dough in half over the rolling pin to transfer to a 9-inch pie dish so that there is slight overhang. To prepare the filling, stir together the cherries, sugar, corn starch, and lemon juice, then pour into the prepared crust. Next, take the other chilled round of dough and roll out into a flat circle, about 10-11 inches in diameter. Cut into eight 1 1/2-inch thick strips, then weave into a lattice design, with four in one direction, and four perpendicular to that (here is a helpful tool if you are new to this). Trim any overhang and gently pinch the dough together around the edges of the pie. Use a fork to imprint the dough around the edges, as well. Whisk the egg with a pinch of salt and a splash of milk, then use a pastry brush to gently brush the lattice and edges of crust, then sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake for 60-70 minutes, until golden brown, using foil to create a tent over the pie about 30 minutes into the baking process (to prevent the fats in the dough from burning). Allow to cool completely in the pie dish on a cooling rack before serving.