cover image Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life

Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life

Kate McDermott. Countryman, $29.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-58157-327-5

McDermott, a self-taught baker whose workshops have taught hundreds to make a proper pie, shares that knowledge more widely in one of the best books written on the topic. Those expecting a quick preamble followed by hundreds of pie recipes will be sorely disappointed—basic instructions take up a third of the book—but readers interested in the hows and whys of pie-making will find McDermott’s tutelage invaluable, as she offers in-depth coverage of pan selection (you can’t go wrong with glass), the proper fats (lard and butter are good choices), and selecting the right apples. Once readers have made their crust of choice (gluten free options are also included), they’re good to go, and McDermott’s recipes are straightforward. Beginners will appreciate simple recipes such as the Rustic Tart, which only calls for fresh fruit, sugar, and a little nutmeg, and will be glad that the majority of her fruit pies (blackberry, blueberry, peach, etc.) are essentially the same in terms of process and ingredients. Veteran bakers interested in expanding their repertoires will enjoy combinations such as apricot raspberry and apple cranberry walnut as well as inventive riffs (poached pear sour cream caramel pie, banana rum caramel coconut pie). But it’s really all about the standards, and with one glaring omission—sweet potato pie—McDermott excels, giving readers an informative guide they’ll be referring to for years to come. (Oct.)