Welcome to this month’s instalment of The Everyday Baker review (I’m spreading it out over the course of a year because with over 170 recipes and 600+ pages, it’s a little hard to cover unless you divide it up into chapters!). This month, we’re looking at “Pies and Tarts” (and I apologise that this is a little late – I had this half-written before I left on the Camino but somehow never managed to get it finished and posted…). To be honest, this chapter was a bit challenging for me because it was just so very hot the week I was working with it – pastry doesn’t much like the heat and it was doubly challenging because I was working with French butter (higher fat content and less water) and flour which don’t necessarily work the same way as the flours and butter I am used to working with. But no matter, this chapter is a mine of information whether you bake from it or not!
There are 18 recipes in this chapter – tarts, (single and double crusted) pies, free-form galettes, slab pies and pie-bites. It really covers a large range of items as well as flavours – there’s lots of fruit in there as well as caramel, praline and chocolate. It’s worth noting that all these recipes are sweet although the techniques for making the pastries and forming the crusts can easily be adapted for savoury items.
“Pies and Tarts” Techniques and Tips
Honestly, this chapter was such a huge source of great information – pastry and I get along pretty well but my tarts, pies and galettes all tend to be a little “rustic” and I’d never quite mastered lattice. This chapter should be required reading for “Pies 101” (which should be a required class for, well, everyone, at school!). Useful essential techniques are included in this chapter like how to peel peaches, arrange fruit in a tart and glaze it, pressing in a cookie crust, preventing “skin” on pudding fillings, neatly pleating galette dough (so it still looks rustic but just a tad neater!), making meringue (and swirling and spiking it on top of a pie), pitting cherries, filling and folding turnovers, making a double crust pie with cutouts (this is on my list for the cooler weather) and, for me the BEST tutorial – making a lattice top and placing it on a pie. Most of these technique explanations are accompanied by photos making it a truly essential resource for any baker. The lattice tutorial takes you through each step in images which I found immensely useful.
“Pies and Tarts” Baker’s Wisdom
In this chapter there is a lot of great wisdom that any baker would benefit from, not just someone interested in pies! You’ll learn how to work with pans with removable bottoms, a few different ways of melting chocolate, how to re-size larger pies/ tarts, how to clean sticky pans and utensils (from caramel) amongst other things. Don’t ignore the sidebars – they are a wealth of information!
What pie did I make?
I was headed to a dinner party the week I was reading this chapter and I knew that I wanted to make some form of summer fruit pie. I also figured that it was now or never for the lattice. I set about making the pastry on possibly the hottest day since I had arrived in Nérac, figuring if I worked quickly it would be ok. What I hadn’t taken into account was that my fridge in France is much smaller than my North American-sized one here and the whole “chilling” process was a bit hard to manage in a fridge that isn’t big enough to hold a baking tray! Also, the pastry was much much softer than I am used to working with (due to the butter, I am sure, since every pastry I made this summer was much softer, not just this one). In any case, though my lattice was not perfect (see below), I was fascinated by the whole technique and found Abby’s explanations (and images) so very helpful – in fact the only thing I had on my mind as I finished up this project was making another one (when it’s cooler and I would have access to a larger fridge). For Abby to get me excited about making lattice pastry, I’d say this is a big win!
Purchase The Everyday Baker for yourselves on Amazon (this link should bring you to the Amazon store closest to you) Or for free worldwide shipping, buy from The Book Depository.
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Disclosure: Abby is a friend but she didn’t ask me to write about the book. In fact, she didn’t even know I had a copy until I told her!
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