At 640 pages and nearly two inches thick, Pie, the big book with the shortest possible title, is difficult to read in bed. It's hard to hold up. It weighs on the stomach. But bed is where you will want to take it, night after night, following author Richard Haedrich's lead through fruit pies, berry pies, nut pies, custard pies, turnovers, ice cream pies, and more. Headrich has the most reassuring voice in food literature, and his lifelong passion--the making and baking of all manner of pies--soon begins to fit the reader like new skin.
The first 60 pages are given over to general directions (for example, Haedrich is a firm believer in reading a recipe through to completion before lifting a finger; he rolls his dough on wax paper) and the making and shaping of crust. You will find everything you need to know about creating terrific pie crusts including a friendly pat on the back and the sage advice that great crust comes with experience. This is all but permission to bake several pies a week for the rest of your life. The 300 some recipes in Pie will help you on your way. There are 21 crust recipes alone, everything from that perfect flaky crust to Choco-Nut Press-In Pie Crust.
Ever hear of the Balaton, what sounds like the perfect pie cherry? Haedrich doesn't just give you a cherry pie recipe (there are actually nine), he tells you all about cherries (there's a box titled "Crash Course in Cherries"). And talking about cherries leads to talking about regions of the country, the people in the landscape, the fruit on the trees. You will travel endless miles of back roads with Pie. Haedrich feeds you information in easy bursts, like conversational asides, as recipe leads, as sidebars, as boxes, as how-to notes the author calls "Recipe for Success." In just the pages on cherry pie you'll find out about product sources, sanding sugar, pitting cherries inside plastic bags, lattice pie crusts, baking with kids, knotting cherry stems with your tongue, IQF (individually quick frozen fruit), and much more. And cherry pie isn't a chapter all its own, but a small part of the chapter called Summer Fruit Pies. All told there are 13 chapters in Pie.
Books like Pie don't happen overnight, or even over a year of nights. Haedrich didn't apply his considerable food writing skill to a subject he simply pulled off the shelf. While the tone may be easy going, there's nothing casual here about either the task or the accomplishment. Pie represents a considerable chunk of one man's life wedged between the covers of a book. The tens of thousands of bits and pieces of valuable information, quotes, lines of poetry, not to mention the recipes and careful instruction comes from years and years of both accumulation and winnowing down to the very best.
And all along, page after page, there's that implacably friendly, reassuring voice, leading, encouraging, enlightening. How often do you crack open a cookbook and wind up with a new best friend? Such is the nature of a great book. Such is the magic of Pie and Ken Haedrich. --Schuyler Ingle
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Finally, there's a book with all the recipes and tips home cooks need to make every kind of pie. Old fashioned classics include Homestead Chess Pie, Slipped Custard Pie, and Deep Dish Sour Cherry Pie, while new creations include Chocolate Lava Pie and Watermelon Chiffon Pie. There are traditional favourites like Maple Pumpkin Pie, Pennsylvania Dutch Sour Cream Apple Pie, Coconut Cream Pie alongside easy and delicious refrigerator and freezer pies like Black Bottom Peanut Butter Cloud Pie and Ultimate Banana Split Pie. Novices and experienced pie bakers alike will find reassuring advice and time-tested tips on equipment, ingredients, judging baking times, rolling and shaping dough, and everything else needed to get through to the last scrumptious bite of home-made pie.