The Perfect Pie: More Than 125 All-Time Favorite Pies and Tarts

The Perfect Pie: More Than 125 All-Time Favorite Pies and Tarts

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The Perfect Pie: More Than 125 All-Time Favorite Pies and Tarts by Susan G. Purdy, Susan G. Purdy

A warm slice of apple pie with a scoop of cold vanilla ice cream. A not-too-tart sour cherry pie with a soft, flaky, almond-scented crust.  A towering lemon meringue pie with a tart lemony filling and a cloudlike meringue topping. Whether it's a buttery pastry or graham cracker crust, a fruit or chocolate cream filling, or a lattice crust or cinnamon streusel topping, who doesn't love a wedge of freshly baked pie?
But when it comes to making pies, most people hide in the kitchen corner. Not any-more. Not with expert piemaker and cooking teacher Susan G. Purdy by your side. From traditional classics like Old-Fashioned Apple Pie, Mississippi Mud Pie, and Key Lime Pie to inspired favorites like Rum-Pumpkin Chiffon Pie, Italian Ricotta Cheese Pie, and Grass-hopper Pie, The Perfect Pie features simple recipes for dazzling pies, tortes, tarts, and crisps. Flawless crusts and an enormous selection of fillings are as easy as pie. With step-by-step illustrations, clever shortcuts, and troubleshooting tips, Susan is with you every step of the way. The Perfect Pie guarantees that your pies will be perfect every time.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780767902625
Publisher: Broadway Books
Publication date: 06/28/2000
Edition description: 1 ED
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 6.94(w) x 9.09(h) x 0.94(d)

About the Author

Susan G. Purdy is the author of The Family Baker, Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too, winner of an IACP/Julia Child Cookbook Award, and As Easy As Pie, on which this book is based. Susan has written for numerous magazines, including Cooks Illustrated, Eating Well, Fine Cooking, and Shape. She lives in Connecticut with her family.

Read an Excerpt


Just exactly what is a pie? And when is a pie a tart or a tartlet? When is a pie a flan? The answers can be as confusing as the questions, but as so many types are mentioned in this book, some attempt at definition must be made.

An American-style pie generally is any pastry crust with a sweet or savory filling baked in a shallow round dish with slanted sides. Pies are served from their baking dishes. Open-faced pies have no top crust. Deep-dish pies have the same kind of fillings as other pies but more of it because they are baked in deeper plates and have no bottom crust. They always have an upper crust.

A tart is the European cousin of the pie. It generally contains sweetened fruit or preserves or a custard filling, though there are savory tart recipes as well. A tart looks like an open-faced pie: a filled pastry shell. Sometimes tarts, as well as open-faced pies, have pastry-strip lattice crusts. European-style tarts are baked in straight-sided rather than slope-sided pans, often with fluted edges. Before serving, tarts are removed from their baking pans, which are usually made with removable bottoms to facilitate this procedure. In England and France, the words tart and flan are used interchangeably, while in America, tarts and flans are either called tarts or open-faced pies. A flan is actually named for the round metal ring in which it is baked. It is basically a pastry case containing any one of a variety of fillings, like a tart. However, in Spain and parts of France, the term flan can also signify a pudding or molded egg-cream mixture.

A galette is, literally, a round flat French cake. However, any flat, free-form (as opposed to pan-baked) fruit tart can also be called a galette, or, in Italian, a crostata. The most widely known galettes in France are made for Twelfth Night celebrations and each one contains a good luck charm or tiny porcelain statue of Jesus. In the north of France, Twelfth Night galettes are made of puff pastry, while in the south, they are made with yeast dough.

The term timbale, according to Larousse Gastronomique, comes from the Arab thabal, meaning drum, and refers to a receptacle. Originally, timbales were metal or earthenware vessels for food. Today, the word may refer to any preparation served in a pie shell with a decorated, glazed pastry top crust molded in a metal form and shaped like a dome.

Paté is the French word for "paste," meaning dough. The word paté refers to a totally enclosed pastry case containing a forcemeat, or filling, of meat, vegetables, or (less commonly) fruit. To be strictly correct, paté should refer only to a pastry-enclosed meat or fish mixture baked in the oven and served hot or cold. By contrast, a terrine can be a sweet dessert layered in a rectangular mold or a savory forcemeat baked without a pastry case (usually in an earthenware vessel, also called a terrine), with strips of fat or bacon on top; terrines are served cold only. And while we are in the family, a galantine is also forcemeat, a terrine in fact, but baked inside boned poultry.


*        Before baking, you may wish to read the sections on equipment and ingredients, to familiarize yourself with information and techniques that will help you succeed.

*        Before starting a recipe, be sure to read it through from start to finish, so you will know what ingredients and equipment to have on hand, and how to plan your time.

*        To achieve success in baking, use the pan sizes specified. A pie plate or tart pan that is too large will not have enough filling; while a pan that is too small may cause the filling to overflow in the oven.

*        All dry measurements are level.

*        All eggs are U.S. Grade A large (2 ounces).

*        I prefer to bake with butter. If you choose to substitute margarine, the flavor will differ somewhat. Use only hard stick margarine, never soft spreads or tub margarines, which will almost always cause baking failures because they contain unknown amounts of water and additives.

*        Lemon or orange zest refers to the most brightly colored part of the peel, which contains all the flavor. Do not grate the pith or white portion of the peel, which can be bitter.

*        Lemon juice is best freshly squeezed. If necessary, as a substitute, use Minute Maid "100% fresh lemon juice from concentrate," available in supermarket freezer sections-never an artificial juice.

*        Nutmeg has a more pungent flavor when freshly grated, but bottled ground nutmeg can be substituted.

*        Room temperature means 68 degrees to 72 degrees F. All baking ingredients except fats and water for pastry making should be at room temperature before beginning so they will blend properly.

*        Oven temperatures vary considerably and are the greatest cause of baking failures. To prevent problems, purchase an oven thermometer in a cookware or hardware store and keep it on the middle shelf inside your oven. Adjust the external oven control indicator as needed to keep the correct internal temperature.

*        To double-wrap a baked good for freezing, completely cool it, then wrap it airtight in plastic wrap or foil and place it inside a heavy-duty plastic bag or a crush-proof plastic freezer container marked with a label and date.

*        When a range is given for doneness, always check the oven at the first time, then watch closely until the second: Your oven and mine may differ, and the only thing that really matters is how the baked product looks. Observe the signs for doneness given in the recipe as well as the time indicators.

*        When a recipe calls for 1/2 cup chopped nuts, the nuts are chopped before measuring. If it calls for 1/2 cup nuts, chopped, they are chopped after measuring.

*        A double boiler is simply a smaller pot that fits inside a larger one containing water. To improvise your own double boiler, you can use a metal bowl or small pot set into a larger pot or frying pan of water. The best arrangement, however, is to suspend the top pot so that its bottom is not actually touching the hot water below.

*        In the ingredients lists for the recipes, the pastry recipe suggested first is the one I think most suitable. However, other ideas are also suggested-or you may prefer to select your own from the collection of Pastry Recipes.

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