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Read The Book on Pie

Read The Book on Pie

Erin Jeanne McDowell, New York Times contributing baker extraordinaire and top food stylist, wrote the book on pie, a comprehensive handbook that distills all you’ll ever need to know for making perfect pies. The Book on Pie starts with the basics, including ways to mix pie dough for extra flaky crusts, storage and freezing, recipe size conversions, and expert tips for decorating and styling, before diving into the recipes for all the different kinds of pies: fruit, custard, cream, chiffon, cold set, savory, and mini. Find everything from classics like Apple Pie and Pumpkin Pie, to more inspired recipes like Birthday-Cake Pie and Caramel Pork Pie with Chile and Scallions.

Erin also suggests recommended pie doughs and toppings with each recipe for infinitely customizable pies: Mix and match Pumpkin Spice Pie Dough and Dark Chocolate Drippy Glaze with the Pumpkin Pie, or sub in the Chive Compound-Butter Crust for the Croque Madame Pielets . . . the possibilities are endless. With helpful tips, photographic guides, and inspirations—pie-deas—it’s almost like having Erin in the kitchen baking pies with you.

Borrowed this from the library to read the front matter and skim the recipes. She has clearly put a lot of thought into pie baking. And she baked a looooot of pies to photograph for this book in a wide variety of flavors and decor! I appreciate her openness to different kinds of pie fillings.

I was hoping to find some magical explanation for being able to lift pie out of the plate like she shows on her Instagram. Tweaks to try in my pie-making process from this book: using more pie weights, pricking the bottom a lot more, and leaving the butter larger when I cut it in. (I thought I left it on the large side but not compared to her!) Her bake times were shorter than mine but crusts were darker — I think I might cover mine earlier than she does. I liked a couple of her variations on crust decoration (scalloped edge, rope twist, and spoon marking).

I also learned that the reason the filling needs to bubble is that it must boil to make the cornstarch or flour get thick.

I’d like to make her roasted strawberry pie:

https://www.instagram.com/p/CP0rmo-FUkl/

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at tracy.durnell@gmail.com. She/her.

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