By Ken Haedrich, The Harvard Common Press, 2004. Paperback. $28; 639 pages
This doorstop of a book delivers recipes with a lot of precision and very little pretense. There are recipes for berry pies, ice-cream pies, nut pies, and custard pies—that's before you get to oddballs like Arborio Rice Pie and Wheaten Breakfast Pie.
The chapter devoted to the mother of American pies, apple, spans Brown Sugar Apple Pie, Apple Pie with Cheddar Cracker Topping, Pennsylvania Dutch Sour Cream-Apple Pie, and The Easiest Apple Pie, which makes "unabashed use of convenience products."
Although Haedrich praises lard for producing the flakiest crust, he is all about variety—there are 21 different pastry and crumb crust recipes. Yet the bottom line is not sheer quantity, but recipe quality.
GIVE THIS BOOK TO: Pie bakers who want to expand their horizons, or anyone who thinks they can't bake a good pie.—Mary Goodbody