Like many people, I’ve picked up some new hobbies during the pandemic — particularly cooking and baking.

I’ve always enjoyed cooking, but I wasn’t really the type to try make anything complicated or something that took more than 20 minutes to make. But, that was before the pandemic.

Now that I’ve started doing a lot of cooking, I’ve taken a liking to baking, though that mostly includes just two things — apple pie and chocolate crinkle cookies.

This isn’t going to be one of those annoying recipe columns where I discuss all of the life choices that brought me to this point, or that one special childhood memory that makes this recipe so near and dear to my heart. I will, however, make some potentially controversial claims like how apple pie (and key lime) is the greatest pie on earth, and that chocolate crinkle cookies are the best cookies to exist.

When I first looked up the recipe for chocolate crinkle cookies over the summer, I was taken aback because there were more than a handful of ingredients. Thankfully, it wasn’t hard to combine them and roll them into balls on a baking sheet — just messy. I had initially decided to make these for my dad, who also loves those cookies. In my first attempt, I enlisted my girlfriend to help and we were pretty successful despite the fact I had no baking soda on hand (stupid mistake on my part).

The cookies were great, albeit extremely dense without the baking soda. We made the cookies a second time, this time with baking soda, and let me tell you, it made a world of difference. The success of the cookies — along with Thanksgiving approaching and Tik Tok 2video — motivated me to try and make an apple pie.

The video was for skull-shaped mini apple pies for Halloween, which I wanted to try but couldn’t find a muffin tin with a skull shape. So, I decided I’d go for it all by making a regular-sized pie. I made the filling first with apples, brown and white sugar, cinnamon and maple syrup (major key), and it was great. I was excited, so I looked up a recipe on how to make the crust from scratch. I vastly overestimated my abilities and made a huge mess for a sad attempt at a pie crust.

In the original video, the person used refrigerated pie crusts so I went looking for them and found some frozen ones instead. My initial plan was to use those before I ruined them by trying to mess with it before it had completely thawed. Luckily, my parents found some refrigerated crusts, and those were impossible to mess up. The pie turned out great, and was a massive “W” for me, as everyone who tried it loved it.

And so for Christmas I decided to make another run at it. This time, however, my girlfriend wanted to try her hand at a lattice top crust — which was a huge improvement in the aesthetic quality of the pie and was artfully done. We made another pie for Valentine’s Day, this one much like the last and also delicious. It really has become one of my favorite things to make, and I think I’m ready to branch out to other pies, I just don’t know where to start.

The pandemic has taken so much from so many and upended all of our lives, so it’s been nice to find some joy in baking.

If you’ve got any suggestions for things I should try making, email them to me at jroberts@johnsoncitypress.com.


Recommended for you