What is the most daunting part of pie making?
That’s why Allison Kave’s First Prize Pies (Abrams 2014) is such a find. She spends her time going over crusts – over three chapters that cover Dough-Based Crusts, Crumb Crusts, and Crumbles. Without crust- pies are just filling – pudding, sauce, or meringues. Get the crust right, and you’ve got pie!
Her Classic Pie Crust (pp. 38-43) includes two pages of step-by-step photos by Tina Rupp. She uses European style butter, lard, vinegar, milk, and a bit of corn starch and makes the dough either by hand or in a food processor. If you are gluten free, then try the Gluten-Free Flour Blend for cookie crust (p. 51), but if you aren’t, then you might be tempted to make Gingersnap Cookies (p. 56) and then use them for Gingersnap Crust (p. 57) by adding plenty of butter.
After you’ve mastered crusts, then it is time to look at the pie recipes, organized by month. The book starts with March – but take a look at February at the end of the book: Shaker Citrus Pie (p. 204) that uses the Classic Pie Crust and stuffs it with lemons, but you can also make it with other citrus – perhaps Meyer Lemon? The Elvis Pie (p. 209) is as big as Elvis way: “This pie marries the sweet, smoky, salty, nutty flavors of Elvis’ favorite sandwich in a rich, gooey, messy cream pie. Fresh banana pudding, topped with peanut butter whipped cream in a peanut butter-bacon cookie crust. Need I say more?” Take it to a party so that everyone gets a sliver. You could also get Hamantasch Galette (p. 212) a free-form pie that’s a rift on the tri-corner Hamantaschen cookies filled with poppy seeds or other fillings. Finally, the Malted Chess Pie (p. 217) with intense malt flavor from barley malt syrup, malted milk powder and crushed malt balls. If you like your sweets to have a bit of salt in them, then this is your pie.
First Prize Pie is full of inventive pies that will get you thinking of turning everything into pie. And why not?