The Book on Pie: Everything You Need to Know to Bake Perfect Pies

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Look no further than The Book on Pie for the only book on pie you'll ever want or need.

Erin Jeanne McDowell, New York Times contributing baker extraordinaire and top food stylist, wrote the book on pie, a comprehensive handbook that distills all you'll ever need to know for making perfect pies. The Book on Pie starts with the basics, including ways to mix pie dough for extra flaky crusts, storage and freezing, recipe size conversions, and expert tips for decorating and styling, before diving into the recipes for all the different kinds of pies: fruit, custard, cream, chiffon, cold set, savory, and mini. Find everything from classics like Apple Pie and Pumpkin Pie, to more inspired recipes like Birthday-Cake Pie and Caramel Pork Pie with Chile and Scallions.

Erin also suggests recommended pie doughs and toppings with each recipe for infinitely customizable pies: Mix and match Pumpkin Spice Pie Dough and Dark Chocolate Drippy Glaze with the Pumpkin Pie, or sub in the Chive Compound-Butter Crust for the Croque Madame Pielets . . . the possibilities are endless. With helpful tips, photographic guides, and inspirations—pie-deas—it's almost like having Erin in the kitchen baking pies with you.

From the Publisher

book on pie

book on pie

book on pie

book on pie

book on pie

book on pie

erin jeanne mcdowellerin jeanne mcdowell

A Conversation with Erin Jeanne McDowell, author of The Book on Pie

What do you hope people learn from this book?

There are so many myths in the pie-making process, and when I wrote this book, I set out to troubleshoot common problems and help people find pie “lightbulb moments.” I wrote in it that I have a lot of favorite things about pie, but one of the most wonderful parts is making it. It’s a beautiful process: where you can be creative, work with your hands, and make something beautiful. Best of all, you get to enjoy it beyond the process of making it, by eating and sharing it with others. Unfortunately, the fun of it is often ruined for beginner bakers because they aren’t familiar with the process. I hope this book contains all the tools readers need to learn to bake their best pies yet. But, mostly, I want people to fall in love with pie. Since homemade pies are the best ones out there, to truly fall in love with pie, you’ve got to make it yourself (or live near someone who does).

Who is THE BOOK ON PIE for?

Anyone who loves pie (or wants to)! Every recipe is ranked easy, medium, or hard—so, if you’re a beginner, you can start with the simplest ones and work your way through. Seasoned bakers will have their pick from the lot, but will also find the flexibility to choose the level of workload they want to take on.

The book contains not only tons of full pie recipes, it also has loads of crusts and toppings you can mix and match. Readers can not only bake the pies they see in the pages, but also any pie they can dream up! I also added a variety of more inclusive components, including gluten- and dairy-free crust options!

How did you decide what kinds of pies should be in this book?

I wanted to find a balance of classic, beloved flavors, and some surprising ones—with plenty of ideas to spark creativity and encourage people to think outside the box. To me, pie is a filling in a crust—so, as long as it has those two components, pie can be ANYTHING. Throughout the book, I play with shapes, décor, and techniques, and experiment with new methods to show just how versatile pie can be.

What inspired you to become a baker?

I come from a large, food-loving family. I grew up loving spending time in the kitchen with my mom and grandma. I was also very inspired by two of my older brothers who are both artists. I wanted desperately to follow a similar path, but I didn’t have their natural skill with pencils or paint. I came home from a ceramics class one day to find my mom using a tool to decorate a cake that was similar to one I’d used on the pottery wheel. Suddenly, I realized maybe food was a medium I hadn’t considered. I started baking immediately, and landed my first job in a hometown bakery when I was 16.

What are some of your favorite pies in the book?

Some of my favorite pies were written with people I love in mind—so, some of those hold particularly close places in my heart. The Pure Rhubarb Pie is for Grandma Jeanne, who always felt that strawberry-rhubarb got too much play in the pie world (don’t worry—there’s a strawberry rhubarb recipe in the book, too). The Black Raspberry Chiffon was inspired by my best friend, Terri, and her favorite flavor of ice cream. I tried to capture the beauty of the beautiful homegrown melons my parents harvest in their garden each year with my Watermelon Pie. And about five of the savory pies have my brother Willie’s name written all over them.