When I was a teenager, my mother and I were obsessed with Gilmore Girls. She and I saw eye to eye on almost everything apart from television, where we veered wildly, with one important exception: Gilmore Girls. Serendipitously, we began watching it in earnest when I was contemporaneous with Rory: as she applied to college, I filled out my UCAS form; as she left home for her first real job, I packed up the car for London.
It’s funny how attached you can become to a television programme. Especially a programme like Gilmore Girls: a programme that for all its fast talking is actually slow-paced, a quiet programme, where the plotting is gentle and the drama is everyday, a programme that is really just about a mother and daughter living their lives.
I watched the final episode with my mum, and cried harder than I have ever cried at a television programme. Great big shuddering, heart-shaking, head-tightening sobs. My mother laughed at me, and then followed me into the bathroom and hugged me until I laughed at myself.
As I grieved for my mother after her death, I thought often of rewatching the Gilmore Girls, as some form of comfort or connection to her. But I never did. I left it as a perfect time capsule: of our love, of our friendship, of those hundred tiny, unimportant, laughing moments that make up a relationship.
It’s been nine years since the last episode of the Gilmore Girls. Nine years since I watched it, and four years since my mother died. And now it’s back, for a four part event that will show us where Lorelai and Rory are now. I’m going to watch Gilmore Girls again: I can’t not. Only this time it will be different. It will be bittersweet. As I see how Lorelai and Rory’s relationship has changed, mine will remain encased in amber, untouched, untouchable.
So many parts of grief are like this. The inability to update, to check in, to progress is often the most heartbreaking; it’s the the unfinished attempts at contact that fall away on realisation into ghostly half-movements that kill you. It is that vein of paraylsis that, amidst all change, still runs through the living person that hurts, the petrification of a relationship. I suppose that’s what we had with the Gilmore Girls, until now.
Now I’ve had to find myself a different Gilmore Girls partner: Kate. Kate and I met almost exactly a year ago, having loved each others’ writing we nervously met up for coffee. The coffee we sat down for turned into coffee and cocktails, and then coffee and cocktails and oysters. We became friends over recipes and books and, of course, Gilmore Girls. She became my friend at a very important time for me: a time when I knew I was going to ditch my serious and sensible job to do something wonderful and scary, and almost immediately she became my cheerleader, my confidante, my friend.
I’ve been cooking with Kate for a little while now, and last Sunday, we cooked our first supperclub as a duo. It was Gilmore Girls themed, an absurd celebration of food and female friendship and pie and coffee. We served the chintziest canapes we could think of in homage to Friday Night Dinner, deep-fried Korean thanksgiving, put together pots upon pots of chinese take out, and finished with three different pies.
This is one of the pies we cooked for the supperclub: salty honey pie. It’s a little like an extremely American version of a custard tart, butterscotchy and smooth, with a pastry that holds just long enough to be sliced cold, and then flake on eating. The salt, as ever, tempers the possibility of cloying sweetness. It is compulsive and ridiculous and life-changing, a bit like Gilmore Girls.
It goes like this:
Salty Honey Pie
(Adapted from the Four and Twenty cookbook)
Makes: 1 9 inch pie (approx 6-8 servings)
Takes: 2 hours, including chilling
Bakes: 50 minutes
For the pastry
160g plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
110g butter, cold and cubed
15ml cider vinegar
1 Ice cube
For the Filling
115g salted butter, melted
115g caster sugar
1 tablespoon fine cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
A generous teaspoon of vanilla paste
3 large eggs
115ml double cream
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons flaked sea salt
1. 1. First make the pastry. Rub the fat into the flour in a large bowl until it resembles breadcrumbs. Combine the water, vinegar and ice, and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the liquid over the mixture. Add the water a tablespoon at a time until you can bring the dough together into a ball: you may only need 3 or 4 tablespoons in total. Flatten the dough into a disc, clingfilm and refrigerate for at least an hour.
2. When the dough is chilled, you can line your tin: roll the dough out to a circle about 14 inches in diameter. Use this to line your tin; I do this by rolling the pastry onto the rolling pin and then gently rolling it out over the tin. Gently press and manipulate the pastry so that it’s flush against the tin. Fold the excess over on itself to create a proud, thick crust; you can crimp this if you wish. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place baking paper or clingfilm generously over the pastry, and pack with baking beans or dry rice, filling right up to the top. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the baking beans and covering, and bake for another 10 minutes. The pastry should be golden and have dried out a little. Place the shell in the freezer for at least 20 minutes.
3. Mix together the melted butter, sugar, salt, vanilla paste and cornmeal in a large bowl. Thoroughly whisk the honey into the mix.
4. Add the eggs one by one, making sure to thoroughly combine each one. Whisk in the double cream and white wine vinegar. Transfer to a jug for ease of pouring.
5. Remove the pie shell from the freezer and place it on a baking tray. The oven should still be at 180°C; if you’ve left the pie for longer than 20 minutes and turned the oven off, make sure it’s preheated to the right temperature. Pour the filling into the shell. If you’re struggling to stop it spilling, you can half fill the shell out of the oven, and then slide the tray most of the way into the oven before filling the shell up to a couple of milimetres from the top of the crust.
6. Bake for 45-55 minutes. The pie is ready when the edges are set and puffed, and the middle has a gentle wibble; it should be a deep golden brown. Sprinkle with the coarse sea salt straight away. Allow to cool completely before slicing.
7. Ta dah!
Icing on the Cake
We ate this in crumbs standing up in the kitchen whilst clearing up from the supperclub, and the following day, slabs of it, from tupperware.