Cookbook Club: The Book on Pie
Bake up the best sweet, savory, fruity, and creamy pies with Erin McDowell.
Award-winning food stylist, baking consultant, author, and an all-around amazing human being, Erin Jeanne McDowell does it all. With a roster of clients from NY Times Cooking and Food Network Kitchen to Food 52 and baking guru Rose Levy Beranbaum, her most impressive attributes are her infectious enthusiasm and her ability to teach anyone how to improve their baking skills. Watch just 2 minutes of her series, Bake it Up a Notch, and you’ll quickly understand what I mean.
In her first book, The Fearless Baker, Erin taught us the how’s and why’s behind baking in order to give us the utmost confidence in the kitchen. Back again with The Book on Pie, she continues her teaching through pies and tarts.
The book was released just before the holidays, but I am thrilled to re-introduce her work during the peak of summer fruit pie season. Hello Roasted Strawberry, Deep Dish Berry Cobbler, Fresh Watermelon, and Cherry Clafoutis Pies! Her chapter on cream, chiffon, and cold-set pies might be the most drool-worthy. From Sweet Corn Pie with the most beautiful purple Blueberry Whipped Cream to classic Key Lime, these pies will make you swoon.
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Tessa Huff: Why did you decide to write this book?
Erin Jeanne McDowell: To show the flexibility and possibilities when it comes to creative pies!
TH: Which recipe should readers try first? Or which has become a stand-out recipe with readers so far?
EJM: Any of the recipes marked “easy” are a great place to start! Some fan favorites include the Chocolate Covered Raspberry, Cobbler Pie, Roasted Strawberry, Black Forest, Swamp Pie, and Striped Citrus!
TH: Is there a special quality about your recipes or writing that readers can identify as being uniquely yours?
EJM: I try to write my recipes like I’m standing next to the reader in their kitchen, helping them to get it just right.
TH: What keeps you inspired and creative in the kitchen?
EJM: People I love, the change of the seasons, good music!
TH: What were you listening to or reading at the time of writing this book?
EJM: I listened to Sigur Ros a lot as I wrote this one!
TH: What is the main takeaway you want readers to get from your book?
EJM: That pie crust is easy, and baking is full of possibilities!
TH: What is one important key to success for home bakers wanting to try new recipes?
EJM: Read the recipe all the way through before starting. Measure carefully and trust the recipe writer!
Chocolate-Covered Raspberry Pie
This no-bake pie might look intimidating with its raspberries suspended in chocolate mousse and shiny raspberry glaze, but Erin makes the whole process so simple and straight-forward. I specifically chose this recipe to tackle just after moving into the new house - where I didn’t know if the oven would be reliable and when baking tools were still lost in various boxes. Being able to make the components in advance was super helpful!
But that chocolate mousse? So creamy and so decadent! It is lightened with whipped cream, and the added cream cheese gives it a pleasant tangy and cloud-like texture to offset the rich chocolate. I was nervous about adding the raspberry coulis on top of an already picture-perfect pie, but it was the perfect touch. The thick glaze spread effortlessly over the mound of mousse, and it added the perfect amount of tartness to brighten up the whole pie. I think I’m in love!
- Tessa Huff
Chocolate-Covered Raspberry Pie
from The Book on Pie
8 oz (226 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup (85 g) powdered sugar
2 teaspoons (10 g) vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon (3 g) fine sea salt
10 ounces (283 g) bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled (but still fluid)
3 cups (705 g) cold heavy cream
12 ounces (340 g) fresh raspberries
One 9-inch pre-baked pie crust
1/2 cup (120 g) Raspberry Coulis (recipe to follow)
Whipped Cream for decorating
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or large mixing bowl with a hand mixer), whip the cream cheese and powdered sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and salt and mix to combine. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
With the mixer on low, add the melted chocolate and mix until just combined.
Turn the mixer to medium-low speed and stream in about 1 cup of the cream. Whip the mixture until it begins to thicken. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl. Continuing to mix at medium speed, add the remaining cream in a slow, steady stream, then whip on medium-high speed until medium-stiff peaks form (do not over-mix).
Scoop about 1/4 of the chocolate mixture into the prepared crust and spread it out with an offset spatula. Place the raspberries (open-side down) in a single layer on top. Press the berries down into the filling without fully submerging them.
Spoon the remaining filling over the raspberries and gently spread until smooth, taking care to allow the chocolate mixture to settle in between the raspberries. Continue spooning on the filling and spread into a mound. The filling will sit higher than the edge of the crust. Cover the filling directly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
When ready to serve, pipe whipped cream around the edges of the pie (I used a #104 petal tip). Spoon the raspberry coulis on top and gently spread over the chocolate mixture with an offset spatula.
Keep the pie refrigerated until ready to slice and serve.
1 1/2 cups (255 g) raspberries (thawed, if frozen)
1 tablespoon (14 g) fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar, divided
1 tablespoon (7 g) cornstarch
Place the raspberries, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a small pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring intermittently, until the fruit breaks down, 5 to 10 minutes.
Strain the fruit though a mesh sieve into a mixing bowl, smashing the fruit with a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon to extract as many juices as possible. Discard the seeds. Add the strained raspberry juice back to the pot.
Stir together the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and the cornstarch. Stir the mixture into the raspberry sauce and cook over low heat.
Stirring constantly, cook the mixture until it starts to thicken and the coulis is no longer cloudy-looking from the cornstarch.
Remove from the heat and transfer to a heat-proof container. Cool completely before using.
Coulis may be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Erin recommends using a stand mixer for the filling. I used a large mixing bowl with a hand-held mixer and found it to be successful too.
Don’t let the chocolate mousse filling sit before filling the pie crust. In the time is took me to quickly tuck the kids into bed, mine had already started to set. I was able to remedy the problem by mixing in a little bit of heavy cream until it was thick yet spreadable. This would also help if you accidentally over-mixed your filling.
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