Labor Day is a movie about a forbidden love between two people who are struggling through life. Based on Joyce Maynard's best-selling novel, it follows Adele, a social recluse who's permanently damaged after a bad divorce, and Frank, a fugitive with a big heart. As Maynard told us, it's slightly based on her own life experiences — she herself was a single mother raising children in a small town.
"It's based on the part of me that is lonely and hopeful about an unquenched romantic dream," she said. "I wanted to tell a love story for a person like that. I never saw a love story for a person who's got some miles on her and some big losses."
But, it's also a story about pie.
Without giving too much away, Frank teaches Adele to bake a pie; sensual things ensue, and soon enough, they're head over heels in love. The movie version of Labor Day is said to contain quite possibly the greatest pie-making scenes in cinematic history. It all started with a family love for baking, and it evolved into one of the most pivotal points in the story. "My mother was a great pie maker," Maynard told us. "She was diagnosed with inoperable cancer when she was way too young — I went to take care of he, and one of the things that I did that last summer of her life was bake all summer long for her."
A passion project as important as this called for some delicate treatment for the big screen. So, Maynard took it upon herself to teach the stars — none other than Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet — how to bake a pie just like her mother. "I have to say, Josh Brolin was one of my greatest pie students ever," she said. "We had a great time and made three pies together. He has all the qualities of a good pie maker — he's instinctive, physical, and relaxed."
Of course, that doesn't mean that recreating the experience on camera was easy. Since Maynard wanted the movie's pie to be realistically messy — Brolin did play a convict on the run, after all — filmmaker Jason Reitman hired pro food stylist Susan Spungen to make sure the resulting scene was equal parts sexy and realistic. As Spungen told us, it was all easier said than done. "On the first day we had to make pies, we had to try and bake in the middle of a parking lot on a rickety table behind the prop truck," she said. "When we realized the oven didn't work at all, we relocated to a nearby church's kitchen, which had an old stove that nearly incinerated our pies. We finally settled into an unoccupied house across the street."
Hard work paid off, and the final product is one of the most smoldering kitchen scenes to date. We won't get too graphic for you, but imagine a hot kitchen, Josh Brolin, Kate Winslet, entangled arms, and a bowl full of peaches. You get the picture. Off camera it wasn't quite as steamy, because, as Susan recounted, it ended in a pie-hurling food fight. Keep an eye on the blooper reel for that one.
Of course, don't think that we'd tease you with all this talk of A-lister baking mishaps and not send you off with a little something. We're hooking you up with Joyce Maynard's personal pie recipe so that you can get your bake on just like Josh and Kate. Click to the next page for all the details, and check out this video straight from Joyce if you want some extra help.
Single Pie Crust (double for 2 crusts):
1 1/2 cups sifted flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup Crisco
1/4 cup butter
3 tbsp cold water
NOTE: Never overhandle the dough; use as little (ice) water as you can get away with; keep all ingredients cold.
Sift flour before measuring. Spoon lightly into remaining cup and level without shaking or packing down. Combine flour and salt into mixing bowl.
With pastry blender or two knives, cut in Crisco and butter; mixture should be coarse. Sprinkle with water one tablespoon at a time; toss with fork. Work dough into firm ball with your hands. Press dough into flat circle with smooth edges. On lightly floured surface, roll dough to a circle about 12 inches across.
3 lbs peaches
1/3 cup sugar (or less, if peaches are sweet)
1 tbsp quick-cooking tapioca
Add sugar to peeled and sliced peaches.
Sprinkle tapioca on bottom crust. Add filling. Cover with top crust, cutting slits for steam and crimping edges.
Put pie plate on cookie sheet to catch drips. Bake in 350-degree oven for about one hour. Cool before serving.
Still hungry? Us, too. Luckily, Labor Day's food stylist hooked us up with yet another delicious recipe — click to the next page to get your grub on even more.
2-1/4 tsps active dry yeast
2 tbsps granulated sugar
1 cup milk, warmed
4 tbsps unsalted butter, melted, plus more for buttering
3 large egg yolks
2 tbsps honey, preferably orange blossom or clover
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3-1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup honey, preferably orange blossom or clover
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
4 tbsps unsalted butter, plus more for brushing
1-1/2 cups pecans (6 ounces), coarsely chopped
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
6 tbsps unsalted butter, softened
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle, combine the yeast with a pinch of granulated sugar and the milk and let stand until foamy, 5 minutes. Add the remaining sugar, the 4 tablespoons of melted butter and the egg yolks, honey and vanilla; mix until blended. Mix in the flour and salt. Switch to the dough hook and knead at medium speed until the dough forms a smooth ball, 4 minutes.
2. Brush a large bowl with butter. Add the dough and brush the top with butter. Cover and let stand in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
3. Butter a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. In a medium saucepan, melt the honey with the brown sugar and 4 tablespoons of butter over moderate heat until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. Pour the hot honey mixture into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the pecans.
4. In a bowl, mix the sugar with the cinnamon. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 12-by-18-inch rectangle. Spread the butter over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Sprinkle the dough with the cinnamon sugar. Starting at a long side, roll the dough into a log and turn it seam side down. Cut the dough into 12 slices. Arrange the slices, cut side up, in the baking dish. Cover and let stand in a warm place until the buns double in volume, about 1 hour.
5. Preheat the oven to 350°. Bake the honey buns for about 35 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Invert the buns onto a baking sheet and let cool slightly. Serve warm.