When Allison Kave turned her love of pies from a hobby into a career, she unleashed a decadent array of flaky fancies unlike any the world had ever seen. From traditional dough crusts to crumb crusts, fruit fillings to cloudlike creams, Kave’s creations are the stuff pastry dreams are made of.
Now, she shares her tips, tricks, and techniques in an all-new cookbook featuring pie recipes for every week of the year. Organized by month, this book has everything from irresistibly salty snacks like her Salty Dog Cheese Pie to inventive sweets such as Root Beer Float Pie and traditional favorites like Candy Apple Pie. Kave also demonstrates how to make your pies a picturesque success with step-by-step instructions on latticing, crimping, blind baking, and more.
Whether you’re a baking beginner or an at-home pro, First Prize Pies will give you a year’s worth of delicious inspiration.
Related collections and offers
|Publisher:||ABRAMS, Inc. (Ignition)|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||32 MB|
|Note:||This product may take a few minutes to download.|
|Age Range:||3 Months to 18 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
THE BASICS: INGREDIENTS, EQUIPMENT, TECHNIQUES
Before diving into the pie recipes in this book, I encourage you to take some time to read through this introductory section, which will guide you through the most daunting part of pie making: the crust. It also contains lots of helpful tips regarding ingredients and equipment, including substitutions. This is the core foundation of pie baking, and knowing these techniques will make the whole process more fun and relaxing.
For the most part, pies are made up of pretty simple ingredients. Flour, sugar, butter, salt, cream, and eggs form the backbone of most recipes. With such simple components, quality is of utmost importance. Here are a few of my key ingredients:
Without exception, I use high-quality, European-style butter in my pie crusts. Plugrá is a personal favorite, but anything with a high butterfat and low moisture content is what you're looking for. Your resulting crusts will be significantly more delicious, flaky, and tender. They will also be less likely to shrink, due to the butter's lower water content. Be sure to go for unsalted butter, which will allow you to precisely control the amount of salt in your recipes. Speaking of which ...
Unless otherwise indicated, when I use the term "salt" in these recipes, I'm referring to fine, uniodized sea salt. I prefer its flavor, and it is easy to find at pretty much all grocery stores. If you don't have sea salt, you can substitute kosher salt, but will need to use about double the amount, as you get fewer grains of kosher salt per spoonful than sea salt. Avoid iodized table salt; it has a bitter aftertaste.
I always use unbleached, all-purpose flour for my pie crusts and fillings. It is less processed than bleached, enriched white flour, and yields consistent results. My two favorite brands are King Arthur and Hecker's.
When calling for sugar in this book, I am referring to white, granulated cane sugar. Recipes will otherwise specify a need for light brown or dark brown sugar, which are simply white sugar with different amounts of molasses incorporated. Recipes will also call for topping pie crusts with "raw sugar," by which I mean large-crystal turbinado or raw cane sugar.
I use organically raised eggs in my pies, and find that it makes a big difference in both the flavor and texture of my custards. It's also the ethical option, both for the hens laying the eggs and for the ground they live on.
CREAM & MILK
I use organic milk and cream in my pies as well. At the very least, try to ensure that the dairy products you're using are free of the growth hormones that many industrial dairy farms are giving to their cows.
I'm the daughter of a chocolatier — it stands to reason that I'll have some pretty strong opinions on the matter. The quality of your chocolate has a huge impact on the overall flavor of your finished recipe. Avoid the mass-produced, candy-bar style chocolates, which are full of oils, emulsifiers, and artificial flavor, and go for the best stuff you can get your hands on. My mom is a partner in Moho Chocolate, a direct-trade, bean-to-bar chocolate factory in Belize, so I'm lucky enough to use that for all my dark chocolate needs. I also love the flavor of Callebaut's milk chocolate.
I use real maple syrup in most custards where corn syrup is traditionally called for. I love its flavor, and it's a healthier, less-processed ingredient. I always try to use Grade B, which is a richer, darker, more strongly flavored grade of syrup.
There is much debate about the best way to absorb the juices in fresh fruit pies, which can become runny messes if not properly handled. Some like flour, others tapioca, while I'm a cornstarch girl myself. I find it thickens reliably, stays clear (unlike flour, which clouds the juices), and doesn't become over-gelled the way tapioca sometimes can.
I've been tending bar on and off over the past decade, and have a real appreciation for quality spirits. I've long been a proponent of incorporating liquor into desserts, as even a small amount can greatly elevate a recipe and give it a more nuanced, sophisticated flavor. Be sure to use the good stuff!
I like to approach pastry recipes the way I approach savory ones: Widen the field of potential ingredients and flavors, and fantastic results will follow. For example, I like to use fresh herbs in some of my pie recipes to give them another layer of flavor. Feel free to experiment with different herbs that appeal to you; just be aware of their potency and don't overdo it.
A number of recipes in this book call for toasted nuts. I generally toast nuts on the stovetop: In a clean, dry, heavy skillet, heat an even layer of nuts over medium-low heat, shaking the pan every once in a while, until they are fragrant but not burnt. Keep a close eye on them, as it's easy to go too far.
Meringue is an essential component of chiffon pies, and is also used as a topping, as in my Cranberry Dream Pie (this page). They can be finicky to make, but a few tips will ensure good results. Cold eggs separate more easily and cleanly, but room-temperature whites make the most voluminous meringues, so separate eggs while they're cold (make sure not to let any yolk get in the whites!), then let the whites come fully to room temperature. Use only spotlessly clean bowls, ideally metal (copper is the best) or glass, never plastic. Wipe the inside of the bowl with a little lemon juice or vinegar to remove any trace of oil. Adding a bit of cream of tartar will help to stabilize the foam, and using superfine sugar will help it to more fully dissolve into the meringue. Beat the whites until they're glossy and form stiff peaks, then stop — they can become grainy if overbeaten. Be sure to spread the meringue all the way to the edges of the pie crust to prevent it from shrinking. Finally, adding meringue to hot, freshly baked pie fillings helps to prevent "weeping," the watery layer between the filling and the meringue.
tools of the trade
I am hardly a snob when it comes to gadgets. In a pinch, I've rolled out pie dough with wine bottles. Pie is a rustic dessert that can be made from very humble ingredients, in very humble settings. Take these as guidelines, for when you're ready to trick out your arsenal of baking tools.
If you get nothing else on this list, get a scale. Pastry differs from savory cooking in that precision really matters, especially with an ingredient like flour, whose weight can vary drastically depending on how you put it in your measuring cup. I find that using a simple kitchen scale (it doesn't have to be digital, though those have their benefits) leads to reliable results, time and time again. Plus, there are some really cool-looking ones out there!
I'm putting this second on my list because I'm obsessed. I think I might have a touch of the pyro in me, because I will never get tired of using my blowtorch. If you plan on baking meringue pies, or that s'mores pie, or crème brûlée, or you want to add a little color to a pan of glazed veggies, you can justify owning a torch — mostly because they're just so fun. Mine is from a company called Iwatani, which uses replaceable butane canisters. Unlike propane, the butane doesn't impart any flavor to the surface of your food. If you do decide to buy one, avoid the tiny models you see at specialty food stores. These are very weak and tend to die out pretty quickly. They're also overpriced.
You may not have these lying around the house, but bench scrapers are among the most versatile, useful kitchen tools you can own. I use mine to gently pry dough off of countertops, to clean off my work surfaces, to cut butter, and to make pie dough. I always have two on hand. I prefer the ones pictured, which have sturdy metal panels and easy-to-grip plastic handles. My preferred runner-up to these when making pie dough is a ...
There are two types of pastry blenders out there: those with thin, round strands of metal, and those with thick, blade-like pieces of metal. You want the latter. These will more quickly and easily cut through the fats you're blending into your flour.
There are two main types of rolling pins. The traditional American-style pins are usually made of wood or marble, and have a round cylinder that spins, with one handle on each end. French-style pins are long dowels that are thicker in the middle and taper at the ends. I greatly prefer the French pin, which I feel gives more control and rolls more evenly. Try them both, and see what's more comfortable for you.
Which to use? Glass, ceramic, aluminum — they all have their place. I use the light, disposable aluminum tins every day when baking whole pies for customers. Pies tend to bake more quickly in these inexpensive tins, and you don't have to worry as much about the bottom crust being under baked.
Glass pie plates are prettier to look at, and the transparent sides and bottom allow you to clearly see when your crust has turned golden. They are thicker than the aluminum tins, and therefore generally need a bit more baking time.
Ceramic plates are beautiful, but I'd argue that they're best for experienced pie bakers, who can gauge when the pie is ready without needing to see the bottom crust. The thicker walls of these plates mean that even for fresh fruit pies, you might need to blind-bake the bottom crust first so it finishes at the same time as your filling. You can also help ensure a well-baked bottom crust by putting this dish on the floor of your oven in the last fifteen minutes of baking.
Baking sheets prevent a lot of disasters on the way from the counter to the oven. If you've got a jiggly custard crust, those spills are going to wind up on the baking sheet instead of all over your floor. If you've got a fruit pie that just can't help but bubble over, those juices will wind up on a much easier-to-clean surface than the bottom of your oven! Most of all, baking sheets help your pies to bake evenly and make them easier to move around, rotate, and safely handle. I recommend getting sturdy, heavy-duty half sheet pans, which fit most home ovens.
I always line my baking sheets, as I'm a klutz and invariably wind up spilling or dripping something as I fill my pie shells. I also find that fresh fruit pies often bubble over (which is beautiful, but messy), and their sticky juices can be a real pain to clean off of baking sheets. I like to line my pans with nonstick silicone or Teflon sheets; Silpats are wonderful and last forever. You can also use parchment.
We'll cover the technique of blind-baking in the next chapter, but there are a few tools that make the process much easier. After much trial and error, I've found that aluminum foil is the best material for lining your pie crust when blind-baking. It is easier to shape to the contours of your crust, and it helps to hold up the sides of the dough while they bake.
When it comes to pie weights, you can spring for the ceramic beads that you find at cooking supply stores, but they're expensive, and you really need three or four packages of them for a single pie. It's important to fill the cavity of the pie shell all the way up when blind-baking, and they never give you enough. Instead, I use dried beans or chickpeas, which you can use over and over again, storing them in a sealed jar. Just keep in mind that these get a bit stinky after a few uses, but they won't affect the flavor of your pie.
Pie shields are designed to cover the outer edge of your pie crust, to prevent it from getting too dark while the filling sets. You don't generally need them too often, but they can come in handy. This is another case in which I feel the manufactured product just doesn't do the job. I have yet to find a designated pie shield that securely hugs and covers the rim of the crust. Instead, I cut a large piece of aluminum foil, place the whole pie directly in the center, and roll the edges of the foil up to hug and cover the crust, while keeping the middle exposed. This method is sturdier and more adaptable, and the shield holds its place even in convection ovens.
These are a few fun items you can invest in to achieve decorative top crusts. Something as simple as a fork can give you beautiful pie crusts, so don't think of these as necessities, but they can yield some very pretty results. Cookie cutters, which are inexpensive and easy to find (I especially love to dig up cool vintage ones), can be used to give a festive or seasonal accent to pie crusts. I also love my wheel cutter, which has a crimped edge that gives lattice crusts a quaint, rickrack-like appearance.
My candy thermometer of choice is a digital model by Polder that has a built-in alarm to let you know when your caramel or syrup has reached the desired temperature. After many burnt pots of caramel, my boyfriend gifted me with one of these, and I'm now their biggest fan. You can also use them to test the temperature of roasting meats, and they have a built-in timer as well.
You set your oven to 350 degrees, so it's at 350 degrees, right? Probably not. Ovens tend to vary wildly in temperature, and heat is usually distributed unevenly. An oven thermometer will ensure that you're baking at the right temperature.
Marlene, my boyfriend's mom, has a secret for making Thanksgiving a bit less stressful: She bakes her pies in September, and half her work is done when it's time for the big dinner. The freezer can be a good pie baking ally. Certain pies can be baked ahead and frozen (generally, double-crust pies — such as apple and summer fruit — as well as pumpkin and pecan pies), and you can keep big batches of dough on hand for when the mood strikes. Be warned that custard pies should not be frozen — the filling will break and you'll be left with a sad puddle where your delicious custard should be.
the almighty crust
Crust is a pie baker's point of pride. It's the standard by which we're judged, and a good baker is always experimenting with new proportions, techniques, and dough recipes.
It's good to start with a basic crust recipe. This is the one that you'll turn to, time and again, for berry pies in the summer and apple pies in the fall. Once you've got this crust under your belt, there's not much you can't do, pie-wise.
Regardless of which recipe you choose, there are a few cardinal rules you'll need to follow to achieve that perfectly flaky, tender, gorgeous crust:
Rule 1: Keep it cold.
I'm not going to get too scientific on you, but the main goal with pie dough is to avoid developing too much gluten. You need gluten for the dough to hold together, but too much and you wind up with tough, brittle crust. One way to inhibit gluten development is to keep your ingredients as cold as possible. I make a habit of keeping my flour and butter in the freezer, so they're ready whenever I need to whip up a ball of dough.
Rule 2: Don't overwork it.
Pie is not pasta. Again, it all comes down to gluten. The more you handle and work the dough — the more you roll it around, knead it, and put your hands on it — the tougher your crust will be. Treat your dough gently, touch it as little as possible, and please don't knead it.
Rule 3: Keep it chunky.
I use the term chunky both literally and figuratively. You want to have actual chunks of butter in there: tiny little nuggets of goodness that will melt and puff up as the crust bakes. When you roll out your dough, it should be speckled with little dots of butter, like a beautiful piece of marble. You also want your dough to have a good amount of fat. Fat equals flavor, as we've all been told, but fat is also one of the keys to flaky, tender crust.
Rule 4: Don't beat yourself up.
I intend for the recipes in this book to be as fail-proof as possible. That said, the more you practice the craft of baking, the better you'll become, and your first efforts may not be as flawless as you'd hope. I am my own harshest critic, and I know what it's like to want to toss your less-than-perfect pie in the trash. Hold back, take a breath, and give someone a slice. They're sure to sing your praises, and you can use this setback as a learning experience for the next pie.
Now that you've got the ground rules, let's bake!
Excerpted from "First Prize Pies"
Copyright © 2014 Allison Kave.
Excerpted by permission of Abrams Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
The Basics: Ingredients, Equipment, Techniques,
Baking with the Seasons,
Index of Searchable Terms,