Mrs. Rowe's Little Book of Southern Pies
Writer and poet Bryan follows up 2006's Mrs. Rowe's Restaurant Cookbook by zeroing in on the Virginia establishment's highly lauded desserts. Bryan's compilation of 65 recipes hits all the sweet spots, offering reliable standards like peach, blueberry, coconut cream and sweet potato pies, as well as caramel coconut, german chocolate and watermelon variations. Though most of the recipes are basic, achieving the perfect crust isn't; Bryan offers patient tutelage and step-by-step photos, but acknowledges that Mrs. Rowe's technique took years to master. Even experienced pie makers should pick up a trick or two; Virginia's Almost Impossible Coconut Pie, for instance, has no crust-the custard filling creates a firm outer layer when baked. Those looking to tweak their crust might want to consider cream cheese, which makes a tangier product than butter and flour alone. Bakers stymied by weeping meringues, meanwhile, will be comforted by the restaurant's ""weepless"" version, bolstered with salt and cornstarch. Seasoned pie pros and newbies will both find this ode to southern desserts a helpful and lasting resource.