Saturday, March 26, 2011

Martha Stewart's New Pie & Tarts

Martha Stewart's New Pies & Tarts is jam packed with recipes for just about every kind of pie there is. It offers "150 recipes for old-fashioned and modern favourites" from classics like pecan, pumpkin and apple to Vanilla Bean-Pineapple Tart(page 228) and Persimmon Tartlets with Caramel Cream (page 208). The back of the book focuses on basics, which includes tips and techniques as well as advice on ingredients and equipment. There are also some recipes for crusts and other common pie items.

From what I've seen, this is a pretty typical Martha book. Beautiful from the first page to the last and filled with mouth-watering photographs and delicious sounding recipes. When I first opened it up, I didn't want it near my kitchen lest something gets spilled on it. It took awhile, but I got over that. Then I got so wrapped up in reading it, I didn't ever think I was going to have time actually to make something from it. The photographs are so wonderful. Just when I thought I'd seen the most beautiful pie the next page was even more stunning.

I love that the two-page spreads features a recipe on one side and a large photograph of the finished product on the other. It's great that each recipe only takes up one page, but there's a downside to that. Some recipes contain references to other recipes or ingredients on other pages. For example, Poppy-Seed Tartlets with Lemon Curd (page 194) requires the baker to turn to three other pages to make the crust (page 333), lemon curd (page 339) and candied lemon slices (page 339). It's a bit of a pain, but I can live with it.

The book is filled with great tips and more recipes than I'll ever need. I didn't realize there were so many different kinds of crusts. If you play around a little with the crusts and fillings, you could probably make a different pie or tart every day and not run out of recipes any time soon.

My husband will be thrilled to see a recipe for grasshopper pie (page 250) which is one of his favourites. However, he's really attached to the old recipe; I'm not sure he's ready for this updated version that features coconut in the crust and fresh mint in the filling. It sounds yummy to me, though.

There are several pies/tarts in the book that piqued my interest:
Cheddar-Crust Apple Pie (page 138)
Chewy Chess Tart (page 150)
Rhubarb Crumble Pie (page 154) I'll have to wait until my rhubarb is up, which will be never if this weather continues the way it has been. or two of the savoury ones.

For a test recipe, I used the Maple Nut Tart (page 272) with the Pâte Brisée crust (page 322). Think Pecan Pie with walnuts, pecans and maple syrup. [I tried to replicate the photo in the book. At least the layout is similar.]

It was delicious, but I wasn't entirely happy with it. The crust tasted more store-bought (which I don't like) and less homemade (which I love). I did have a little trouble with the crust because our house is very dry (a typical symptom of winter). I had to add a little more water than the recipe called for and ended up working the pastry a little too much. It wasn't as flaky as I would have liked and I'm not sure how much my overworking affected the outcome.

I've made lots of pastry before. I used to use lard or vegetable shortening, until my husband's weird cholesterol and a trip to a dietician changed all of that. Now, I normally use Becel margarine, which works wonderfully well and makes a beautiful, light and flaky crust. The Pâte Brisée crust in the book calls for butter, which I purchased especially for this recipe. Since I don't usually use butter, I'm not sure exactly how the crust should turn out or how different it should be from my normal crust. Besides all of that, we enjoyed the pie.

I still have half of the Pâte Brisée crust in the fridge. I'm thinking a nice quiche for lunch on the weekend.

The table of contents is beautifully presented and the index is extensive. Both should aid the baker in finding items in the book.

Highly recommend, especially for pie and tart lovers. If you've enjoyed Martha's other books, I'm sure you'll enjoy this one too.

For more information about this book or to take a peek inside, please visit the Random House website.

For more information about the author and her other books and all things Martha, please visit Marth Stewart's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at Random House for this review copy.

Martha Stewart's New Pies & Tarts by Martha Stewart, Clarkson Potter (Crown Publishing Group, Random House), ©2011. ISBN 9780307405098(Trade Paperback), 352p. (includes index).

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  1. Oh, that pie looks delicious indeed! A pity it wasn't quite to your liking but maybe you can try out a few different ways of making it.

    I didn't know Becel was world-wide! I thought it could only be bought in the Netherlands. :-)

  2. I have that experience with Martha Stewart recipes before -- something just not quite right. But the photo is lovely and I love pie (and so does my husband). I especially love maple, so I may give the recipe a try with my own pie crust.

  3. Martha's recipes usually work for me, I have that book coming from Amazin any day, there's a tomato-mozzarella in there I want to try! Your Maple Nut looks awesome!

  4. I adore pie and I just wish I didn't have that cholesterol problem as your husband does or I would eat it more often. Of course, these days I have to make a gluten-free crust because of my husband's celiac disease. Does Martha even mention gluten free pies? I saw one recipe from this book online which was touted as being gluten free but that was because the crust was butter and coconut and the filling was (I think) more butter and chocolate. Not really what I consider to be pastry.

    I think pate brisee crust is supposed to be more like shortbread than traditional pastry so it should be patted rather than rolled. Maybe that's why you were disappointed.

    Enjoy your pie!

  5. Thanks everyone! I'm going to try the same pie with my crust and see if it makes a difference. I'm definitely going to try other pies in the book, including the savoury one that Carol mentioned.

    Leeswammes/Judith, Yep, Becel is available here.

    For anyone who's interested: To use Becel for pie crust, it has to be really, really cold. I measure out the amount I need, flatten it in a shallow container and pop it in the freezer for 20 minutes. I then work really fast and try not to touch the pastry too much.

    Wendy/gypsysmom, I sent you a message privately about the gluten-free pies, but I forgot to mention that Martha rolls out the pate brisee like regular crust. She has another one called "Pate Sablee" ("essentially a sugar-cookie dough") which she presses into the pan, rather than rolls.

  6. you know, as beautiful as Martha's recipes are...and they are...I am not sure that I have actually ever made one.

    that tomato-mozzarella Carol mentioned sounds nice too..

  7. That pie looks yummy--but a lot of work! We actually love pie around here much more than cake, and even have birthday pies instead. :) I am sure there are loads of delish pies in that book!

  8. I have many of her cookbooks, and will need to check this one out. The Grasshopper pie does sound good.

  9. I have only recently discovered Martha Stewart's website and have seen the ad for the book there. The pies sound lovely.

  10. Your pie looks delicious. Too bad that it didn't turn out as you had wanted, but there's always next time? :) Thanks for posting about Martha Stewart's new baking book, I hadn't heard of it before.

  11. That looks lovely! I haven't made a pie in forever. We used to make the pumpkin pies for family gatherings, but with family heart scares we weren't willing to use the butter and cream that recipe required anymore and I never got around to working out how to do it with alternative fats.

  12. Sounds wonderful! I'm a big Martha fan! I have her comfort food cookbook.

  13. My mother would love this cookbook for Mother's Day. I would love to try some of the recipes, if she would make them! Thanks for sharing.

  14. If its best for mothers, I think I should try this cookbook as a gift for my mother in law too. She's so fond of Martha recipes. Nice idea from you Peaceful Reader. Thanks everyone and more power to this blog.

  15. Thanks everyone! The book would be great for Mother's Day. All of the pies in the book look great. That's what having a good photographer will get you.

    I have made a few other recipes by Martha. Her soda biscuits are a staple in our house. Very easy to make.

    Thanks for stopping by.


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