Pies are fantastic—nobody is saying otherwise. However, despite their inherent goodness, pies take forever to bake from scratch. From the painstaking process of getting the crust to a perfectly flakey texture to the messiness of the hand mixer in achieving a smooth filling consistency, nobody has the 3-4 hours required during finals week.  

There is an easy fix to this for those of us who have no problem with white lies: buy a pre-baked pie and rough it up just enough to make people believe that you made it. Here's how I did it:

Step 1: Find the Perfect Pie

sweet, cake, chocolate, apple pie, candy
Rachel Harbut

There a few things that you'll want to look for at the store. It's easier to convince people that you made a pie if there are multiple parts to the pie in the box — for instance, the apple pie I picked came with the actual pie and a crumble topping.

You can arrange the topping in such a way that it covers up how machine-perfect the actual pie is. Additionally, pies that you have to put in the oven (most whole-fruit pies) are going to be more malleable (and therefore easier to rough up) than freezer pies (most chocolate and cream pies). I went for this Marie Callender's Dutch Apple Pie.

Rachel Harbut

This pie fit my requirements — it required oven time and came with a separate topping. This kind of pie is also good because people expect it to come with some sort of accompanying sweet, like ice cream or whipped cream.

Step 2: Get to Know Your Pie

Rachel Harbut

Check out the back of the packaging. The more you know about the ingredients, the more you will be able to BS people into believing your lies.

For instance, this pie was made with fresh fuji apples and has cinnamon in it. It's the little details that will make or break your story.

Step 3: Make Your Pie a Little Ugly

Rachel Harbut

This is a vital step to having people believe that you made the pie. You are not a machine, so you can't produce things that look perfect. After my pie was done cooking (and before I put the crumble on top), I jiggled the interior around a little bit. This was to create the effect of an uneven surface.

Step 4: Finesse Your Presentation

coffee, cereal
Rachel Harbut

Presentation is so, so important. My pie came with a crumble topping, of which I took advantage.  

Additionally, I bought some vanilla ice cream and Cool Whip with the pie. The Cool Whip can be used to make little decorative flourishes that will hold up better than whipped cream, and the ice cream will mask the potentially processed flavor of the prebaked pie.  

To use the Cool Whip without any professional tools, I spooned some into a Ziplock baggie and cut the tip off to create a makeshift piping tool.

pie, crumble
Rachel Harbut

With an end product like that, everyone will be fooled into thinking that you did, in fact, make your pre-baked pie from scratch!