Can there be any better job for a foodie than one that involves reading cookbooks as research? I am currently writing the first book in The Baking Queen culinary mystery series, which will be published in 2014 by Gemma Halliday Publishing. That book centers around a pie baking contest, so of course, I’ll need to include pie recipes. While I love eating pie, I very rarely make them myself. One of my friends sells delicious pies at area farmer’s markets, so I happily buy the treats from her. When I do tackle the baking task myself, I confess, I’ve always used refrigerated pie crusts *gasp*. So, when I saw the ebook version of Pie It Forward by Gesine Bullock-Prado on sale I snapped it up. For research purposes, not because I have a cookbook obsession (that’s what I keep telling myself . . . shelves and shelves and shelves full of cookbooks is completely normal . . . yup, it is, right?). Since the purchase was made not long before Thanksgiving, what better way to test a recipe from the book than by making the pumpkin pie my family insists on for the holiday?
I have a tried and true recipe that I use for the filling, so I tackled my crust-making phobia. The biggest dilemma was which crust to choose. There is an entire chapter on crusts: All Butter Easy Pie Dough, Simple Tart Dough, Hand Pie Dough, Quick Puff Pastry, Traditional Puff Pastry, Sweet Tart Dough, Chocolate Cookie Tart Crust, Strudel Dough, Pizza Dough. There is a generous amount of tips and explanations, as well as many photographs, that accompany the recipes. I chose the All Butter Easy Pie Dough, made with part-shortening to make it more workable. It was made in the food processor and I was delighted at how easily it came together. It turned out buttery and flaky. The bottom of the pumpkin pie was still crisp the next day, even after a stay in the refrigerator. This is now my go to recipe for pie crust. If I ever feel the need to tackle strudel dough, I will refer to this cookbook.
The book goes on with master recipes for bakery staples like pastry cream and ganache. Then it’s on to the pie recipes. Sweet pies divided into categories like berry and stone fruit. Many of the recipes lean toward the gourmet bakery side of pie making, with sophisticated recipes for things like Cherry Lavender Clafoutis Tart, Pear and Rhubarb Cardamom Custard Pie, and Pear Frangipane Pithivier. There are also more traditional recipes for things like apple and cherry pies. By the way, I love her tip to saute apples a bit before filling a pie, to lessen shrinkage and the dreaded crust gap in a two-crust apple pie.
Then the book moves onto savory pies which includes several pizza recipes. The Fried (Slightly) Green Tomato Tart and Pork Pies sound delicious. There is even a recipe for Cornish Pasties, which is a regional delicacy where I live. I grew up eating them during summer vacations “up north” to the Mackinaw Bridge/Upper Peninsula area of Michigan. I’m more than a bit of a pasty connoisseur. Considering the recipe calls for the pie crust that I gushed about a few paragraphs ago, along with beef tenderloin, this is sure to be a very tasty, very gourmet version of the meal that became famous as lunch for copper miners.
The last chapter calls on readers to turn pie into an art form. “Taking the skills you’ve learned, think outside the pie plate and stack your crusts and fillings into layers! Ring them with gorgeous edible sides! Make the ready-to-wear pies into (edible) haute couture.” The pictures and recipes in this chapter are awe-inspiring, appearing often more cake-like. Indeed, many have cake components like the Strawberry Love Pie wrapped in joconde sponge cake.
This really is a lovely book about the singular topic of pie with a wide range of recipes, from simple to challenging, sweet to savory, traditional to cutting edge. Really, the only complaint I have is that the ebook version does not have a Table of Contents to make it easy to go directly to a recipe. However, there is an index at the end with direct links to the recipes. Luckily I paged through the entire book and found it.
Note: I purchased this book and was not paid or reimbursed for this review.