This is the most recent installment in the dessert trilogy by Isa Chandra Moskowitz of Post Punk Kitchen and Terry Hope Romero. I have all three books, but I have to say that this one has been used the most by me. I guess that I like pie. Also, there are more recipes in this book that call for things I usually have on hand or easy access to. Plus, my husband is far more likely to eat things from this book; he’s not into cookies or cake much at all.
There is LOTS of information in the book about how to succeed at making pies, with lots of tips, answering questions about thickeners like agar and cornstarch, how to use frozen fruit successfully in a pie, what kind of equipment you need, and more.
You might be saying to yourself, “But isn’t pie always vegan?” Generally, yes (unless you’re using lard in your crusts). But this book encompasses other desserts too – fruit buckles, pandowdies, hand pies, crisps, cobblers, and tarts – things that didn’t fit into either the cupcake or cookie realm.
So, without further ado, I’ll share my thoughts about all the recipes I’ve tried so far.
Double Butter Crust: This was an EXCELLENT crust and I was pleased with both flavour and texture. It was a little challenging to make without a pastry cutter (mine is in storage, boo!) and I did a double batch, but I somehow managed with a fork to get it all worked together. I used this crust for the following two pies:
Because we have blackberries growing profusely on our property and they are Free, this was a natural first choice for me to make out of this book. We had loads in the freezer! I blithely ignored Isa’s cautions about adding extra cornstarch to frozen fruit, however, and later regretted not heeding her voice of experience, because it was runny. But that was my own fault. It still tasted fantastic. (I also left out the liqueur, because I didn’t have any, just for the record.)
I did this with our own apples and blackberries, and again it was amazingly good. Both this pie and the Blackberry Bramble Pie got rave reviews from our Friday night small group.
I did the double buttery crust with 1.5 cups white flour/1 cup spelt flour for these two blueberry variations. I could really NOT tell much difference between these two pies, most likely because I didn’t have maple extract and the maple syrup wasn’t enough on its own to give the maple flavour. I also couldn’t put in the lemon zest because my coffee grinder has given up the ghost and I was unable to grind up my frozen lemon peelings, which made me sad. Also, despite upping the cornstarch as recommended this time for frozen fruit, it was still a tad runny. HOWEVER, they were still a big hit. My friend made the cocoanut milk ice cream you see pictured below to eat with the pie:
Summer Fruit Buckle: I did this for my birthday cake this year, and it was so, so delicious! I didn’t get a picture of it, unfortunately. It was best eaten the day of baking: fluffy, light, and doughnut-like (I think the cardamom is what makes it so delectably perfect!); afterwards it got kind of gooey from the fruit. It still tasted okay but the texture was just not the same. So I recommend making only a single recipe at a time unless you’re planning to feed quite a crowd.
(What is a buckle, you might ask? It’s cake batter with fruit dumped, er, carefully arranged on top. The cake part rises up around the fruit and it all… buckles.)
Berry Cobbler: I used about 1.5 cups of blueberries, 2 slices of strawberry from my freezer (don’t ask why there were 2 slices in a bag in my freezer) and the remainder of the berries were fresh blackberries we picked. The only thing I didn’t do was use the chocolate chips because, tragically, I had none.
It was a bit runny when we ate it right out of the oven at lunchtime, but it set up by suppertime. The biscuit topping is really tasty – my new favourite, I think.
Next time, I think I might either decrease the amount of fruit or do one-and-a-half times the topping. I like my cobblers more bready, but that’s a personal thing, I think (I always increase the amount of crisp topping when I make fruit crisp, too). I should also add that through the second day the bread was still very nice (some cobblers get pretty soggy quickly).
I cheated and used a premade graham cracker crust when I did the Key Lime Pie (and just plain limes). It was amazingly good. I could have eaten it all the first day if my husband didn’t stop me! My daughter, who is two, also loved it. It stayed nice for about two days; after that the crust started to get a little soggy. And then I had to hurry and finish eating it before it got any worse.
Grasshopper Pie: I haven’t made this one myself but my friend did, and it was delicious!