Pie season is upon us! It’s all up on us, actually. Only 2.5 weeks until Thanksgiving! Crazy talk, I know, because wasn’t it just August? I swear I was wearing shorts, like, yesterday. (Note: I probably was though, because I live in California and apparently you can wear shorts in November here? It’s the best/weirdest.)
I feel like the older I get, the faster time seems to fly. Elders/Wisers — is this a thing? And if so, can we punch this thing in the face? No?
Well. At least there’s pie.
Have you ever made pie from scratch? I highly suggest it. It’s a bit of work, but just a bit. Entirely worth it, in the end. I kind of feel like the ability to make a pie is a worthy and important life skill. Never done it? Just take it slow. Read all the steps. Chill your dough. Flour your hands. Don’t cut corners. Most importantly, enjoy the process! Throw on some Christmas carols (it’s November, you’re officially allowed), pour some drinks, and get rolling. And don’t stress about it, because if you do then you’ll forget to add the sugar, which I can say with some authority is a fantastic way to truly ruin a pie.
See that? That’s a buttermilk chess pie. I’ve been reading about chess pie for ages, on other blogs and in magazines, but I’d never seen or tried one in real life. So when I got a copy of the gorgeous new Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book, I knew exactly what I wanted to try first.
In the book, the recipe for chess pie is actually a variation of a recipe for buttermilk pecan pie with raisins — simply omit the pecans and raisins and HELLO, CHESS PIE! It’s got a toasty, crackly top shell which gives way to a soft, creamy, sweet custard filling — the buttermilk is there to balance out all of the sugar, although it’s definitely a sweet pie by nature, so next time I’m going to try it with the toasted pecans, too, which I’m sure would help further ground the sweetness.
The Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book, put out by the incredible food geeks (and I mean that in the best way possible) at America’s Test Kitchen, is nothing short of amazing. It’s a behemoth of baking intelligence and know-how — over 450 recipes! Each with extensive headnotes outlining the science behind the pie — or cake, cookie, custard, bread, brownie, pastry… pretty much anything you can bake is covered in this bad boy. Personally, I’ve got my eye on the recipe for buttermilk doughnuts. Or maybe the lemon layer cake? No, wait, first I want to try the chocolate-raspberry rugelach. …ECLAIRS! Let’s make eclairs.
Want a copy of this baker’s bible? Lucky for us, the generous folks at America’s Test Kitchen have offered to gift one copy to a Dunk & Crumble reader — that’s you! And all you have to do to win one bona-fide copy of the Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book is leave a comment, below, telling me about your very favorite thing to bake for the holidays (also you have to live in the US, for shipping reasons). I’ll choose a winner at random on Sunday, November 17th.
Also, in the name of full disclosure, I was given a free copy of the book in exchange for my review, here. I don’t agree to do these kinds of things unless I fully support the company/product I’m endorsing, and I’ve been an avid reader of all things America’s Test Kitchen for years now (the baking buck stops with them, as far as I’m concerned). Needless to say, I was thrilled to accept my copy and the chance to gift one to one of you lovelies, too.
Don’t forget, you’ve got until Sunday, November 17th (at noon Pacific time)! So tell me — what is your favorite thing to bake for the holidays?
THANKS GUYS! THE CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED — CONGRATULATIONS TO SUSAN T!