Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It's autumn! Let's bake pies!

I love to bake, and now that autumn finally is in the air I can't get enough of baking pies. I'm highlighting my two favorite pie cookbooks from the library's collection. You can also browse call number 641.8652 for more.

Pie: 300 Tried-and-true Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie by Ken Haedrich (2004)
641.8652 HAE
Find it in the catalog!
Three years ago I checked this book out from the library with the goal of baking my own pies for Thanksgiving. I had never baked a pie before and was a little intimidated by the process. I selected the recipes for Caramel Apple-Pecan Pie and Butterscotch Pecan Pie and immediately fell in love. Each Thanksgiving since then I have returned to Pie and those delicious recipes. Haedrich's book is a valuable resource for all things relating to pies. He writes about choosing a pie pan, instructs the reader on how to prebake a pie shell, and provides a helpful list of the shelf life of different pies, all in the first twenty-five pages. Throughout the cookbook Haedrich also has "Recipe for Success" tips in addition to fun pie-related facts.

Haedrich includes a variety of takes on classic pies. Check out the "Make Mine Apple" chapter to find recipes for Brown Sugar Apple Pie, Cinnamon Applesauce Pie, and more, in addition to the classic recipe. As I mentioned earlier I love the Butterscotch Pecan Pie. But I keep telling myself to try another pecan pie recipe, like the Jack Daniel's Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie or the Maple Pecan Pie. Perhaps the most difficult part of baking a pie from this book is deciding which recipe you want to test out first!

The only negative about this cookbook is the lack of photographs. The book has a small section of color photographs in the center and that's it. I still highly recommend this cookbook to anyone who enjoys baking pies, or to anyone interested in learning.

My pies from last Thanksgiving:
Butterscotch Pecan Pie

Caramel Apple-Pecan Pie

Last month as a way to relieve stress I baked a Sugar Pie:
Will the White Squirrel waits for the Sugar Pie to cool.
My pie crusts don't tend to look too attractive, but I think I'm getting better with each pie I bake!

Martha Stewart's New Pies and Tarts: 150 Recipes for Old-fashioned and Modern Favorites (2011)
641.8652 STE
Find it in the catalog!
This is an updated edition of the 1985 cookbook. I highly recommend any cookbook by Martha Stewart. Along with her previous books Cookies (2008) and Cupcakes (2009), New Pies and Tarts is another must-have for bakers. Color photographs accompany all the recipes. A "basics" section at the back of the book informs the reader about baking staples, specialty ingredients, tools, equipment, and techniques for working with different types of pastry. Step-by-step instructions as well as several photographs accompany the "how-to" techniques. I've never constructed a lattice pie crust, but thanks to the step-by-step photos, I think I should be able to follow along and be successful.

This cookbook includes both sweet and savory pie and tart recipes, and I do enjoy the way the recipes are divided: classic, free-form, sleek, dreamy, rustic, layered, dainty, artful, holiday, and savory. In the past three weeks I have baked the Alsatian Potato Pie recipe twice, to rave reviews all around. The Alsatian Potato Pie recipe is a heavenly combination of tender potato rounds, Gruyere cheese, cooked leeks, and garlic-nutmeg infused cream layered inside a flaky puff pastry crust. Unfortunately I cannot provide a photo because the pies did not last long enough for me to snap one. One taste-tester did tell me, "That smells glorious," as the pie baked in the oven.

Apple Butter Hand Pies, Chocolate-Almond Tart with Fleur de Sel, and the Apple Crostada are the recipes high on my list to try next.

What pies are your favorites to bake? Have you discovered any interesting pie recipes lately?