My husband got me a shnazzy new cookbook for Christmas.
It should be noted that I have a cookbook problem. Way too many. But I love them all. This one was written by a lady who has a bakery business, now with multiple Michigan locations. How do you all feel about a little book review?
I asked my husband to pick out which pie he’d like me to try first. Like a man, he chose the most complex recipe in the book. Just to be fair to the book, I also tried one of the simpler recipes. And, me being me, I also had to use the “new” vintage Federal milk glass pie plate I just got.
(I made the dishcloths. I do that when I’m in the car for long periods)
First, I got out all the ingredients for the Sticky Toffee Caramel Apple Pie. Lucky for me, I still have some apples stored in a cold spot.
This is some of my pile of ingredients for this pie. I did say it was complicated. First, I had to make the caramel sauce. Then the prailines. Then the pie crusts. Then the sticky toffee layer. Then the apple filling. Then the crumb topping.
It helps if you can multitask. The apple filling is on the back right burner, and the blackberry/raspberry on the bottom right. I ended up putting the apple pie into a larger, 9-1/2″ pie dish because it seemed like a lot of filling. This ended up being a good decision. I will say, this is the first apple pie I’ve ever made that required a degree of pre-cooking of the filling. Also new for me was the direction to freeze the pie crusts in the pans, THEN fill and bake. I did approach this with some apprehension, as I prefer to bake pies in glass dishes. And even Pyrex will sometimes fail. But their are some tricks. I took the crusts out of the freezer a few minutes in advance, and had the oven thoroughly preheated. (I know this seems counter-intuitive, but if your oven is already hot, the heating element on the bottom isn’t on constantly – it cycles. Constant direct heat is more likely to crack glass than constant indirect heat). Plus, I keep a large baking stone in the bottom of the oven all the time, as I find it evens out my oven’s heating ability.
I also put a foil-lined cookie tray under my pies to catch bubbled-over juices. Because I don’t like cleaning my oven than much. Both pies turned out well. So well that I never got a picture of the apple pie after it was sliced. I did get one of the blackberry/raspberry.
Overall I like the book. Specifically?
Pros: This is a beautiful book, full of serious eye-candy photos for the vintage lover and peppered with delightful vingettes by the author. It’s as much fun to just sit and read as it is to use.
It’s a very usable book. Most of the recipes are very appealing and you’ll find it easy to envision taking one to any gathering you’re invited to. There are a couple of oddball things, but I haven’t tried them so I won’t count that as a fault, as yet. There are no ingredients you can’t find easily at a grocery store. And her crust really IS excellent.
Cons: (Mind that these don’t make the book unusable at all, or detract from my delight with it much.) The instructions tend to be a bit on the vague side, especially for a dedicated pie book. There are no tips at all on rolling and shaping. And, while she praises one of her employees for her excellent pie dough rolling technique – she doesn’t share any secrets as to what makes her so good at it. There is SO little info on the topic, I’d hesitate to gift this book to someone who wasn’t already at least reasonably familiar with making a pie from scratch.
There are no yields. And, for the most part this isn’t a big issue, as you can assume them to be “one pie.” But it would have been nice to know, for instance, that I would have a large bowl of leftover caramel sauce sitting on my counter STILL.
None of the pies here is double-crust. They are all exclusively tailored to either use her crumb topping (which I found a bit bland and prone to not brown in the oven) or are custard/cream type pies that begin with a blind-baked crust. Of the later, all are heavier, custard style. There is not a mousse or chiffon style filling to be found. Given the vintage feel of the book, this feels like a bit of an omission. Sometimes the rampant combinations of fruits also gets to be a bit much. The various berry/cherry blends get a bit repetitious. And nowhere is there a simple, uncomplicated apple pie.
Still, overall, I adore the book and expect to get lots of use out of it. In fact, I think I’m going to go have some pie. In the meantime, I give you a glance at the mini quilt I made for a swap with my local quilt group:
The pattern is Candy Scraps by Carrie Yoder from the Moda Bake Shop. The fabrics are Moxi and Modern Background – Paper, by Moda. With Kona solids in Graphite and Snow. It was my first time quilting circles with my walking foot, and I thought it came out OK.