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Cookbook review: ‘Pie’ serves distinctly British fare

By Elizabeth Reid

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 24 2013 7:04 p.m. MDT

"PIE," by Angela Boggiano, Mitchell Beazley, $24.99, 191 pages

The mysteries of pastry cooking are revealed in Angela Boggiano’s full-color cookbook. From the very British Steak and Kidney Pie for dinner to Mrs. White’s Treacle Pie for dessert, “Pie” details British staples that many Americans have only ever wondered about.

Boggiano begins with detailed instructions and tips regarding various kinds of pie crust. She explains the techniques behind the time-consuming flaky crusts and the secrets of wheat-free pastry. She delves into the hearty hot-water crust and explains the versatile shortcrust. With 11 crust recipes, Boggiano ensures an almost-endless combination of crusts for fillings.

A troubleshooting portion is also helpfully included in the cookbook. Pie crust tips include methods to fix soggy bottoms, shrinking pastries and crusts that won’t mold. Whatever the pastry problem, it is likely that Boggiano has a solution.

“Pie” has a multitude of recipes for entire meals eaten between crust — more than 40 pages are devoted to hearty fare such as Beef Wellington and Fidget Pie. Hand-held pies are next. Explanations are given for the best way to make mini pie crusts and fillings. The history and techniques of tricky Scotch Pies are detailed as well as Cornish Pasties.

In addition, special occasion noble pies are tackled in this book. These pies use unique molds and detailed explanations are given regarding how to obtain the best outcome for meals such as Melton Mowbray Pork Pie. Finally, at the close of this exhaustive cookbook, sweet pie recipes are revealed. While the common apple pie is not in this book, various twists on it such as the luxurious Baby Apple Calvados Pies are. Other dessert secrets such as Pear Frangipane Croustade can be found as well.

Not only does it have an extensive recipe repertoire, it also includes historical pastry tidbits and showcases various United Kingdom pie shops. While traveling to Great Britain is impossible for many, “Pie” can help bring the island country into cooks’ homes across the world.

Great Britain’s Angela Boggiano channels her English and Italian roots in this cookbook. Her book has clean language, color photos and detailed ingredient lists using both American and European measurements.

*****

Chocolate and Pistachio Cream Pie

This pie has a deliciously creamy chocolate custard filling which is so simple to make, and it’s perfect served warm with scoops of vanilla ice cream. Bake it in a rectangular baking pan so that it’s really easy to slice into bars.

Serves: 6

For the pastry

10 ounces sweet shortcrust pastry (see below), adding grated zest of 1 orange to the mixture

2 tablespoons milk, to glaze

For the filling

2 eggs

2/3 cup superfine sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

2/3 cup heavy cream 5 ouncesbittersweet dark chocolate, finely chopped

2 tablespoons pistachio nuts, toasted and roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Lightly grease a fluted 14-by-4½-inch baking pan. Divide the dough into 2 portions, one slightly larger than the other. Roll the larger portion out to a rectangle big enough to line the base and sides of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator while you make the filling. Roll out the remaining pastry to a size large enough to cover the top of the pan. Place on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and also chill while you prepare the filling.

Place the eggs and sugar in a bowl and beat together. Stir in the cream, chocolate, and pistachio nuts, then pour into the pastry shell. Brush the rim of the pastry with milk and position the lid in place, pressing the edges to seal. Trim the edges and make a steam hole in the middle of the lid. Brush with milk to glaze and sprinkle with superfine sugar.

Bake for 30–35 minutes, then leave to cool for at least 15 minutes before removing from the pan. Place on a cooling rack and leave to cool for a further 10 minutes before cutting into slices. Letting the pie stand for a few minutes allows it to set, making it easier to slice. Don’t worry — it will still be warm and gooey!

*****

Shortcrust Pastry

This is a great all-purpose plain pastry which is robust and easy to handle.The proportions to remember are half fat to flour, with enough liquid to combine. I’ve tried other quantities but I always end up coming back to this pastry mantra and it works perfectly every time.This is the simplest and most widely used pastry and is suitable for either sweet or savory pies. The mixture of butter and lard or shortening really is the best combination for flavor and texture, producing a light, crisp texture and delicious, buttery taste. If you don’t want to use real lard, simply substitute a white vegetable fat shortening — you will find a whole selection to choose from. When making a sweet pie, add 2 tablespoons of superfine sugar to the dough mix.

Makes: 10ounce of pastry

1 ¾ cups plain flour

pinch salt

½ stick butter

¼ cup lard or shortening

2–3 tablespoons water, to mix

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Cut the fat into cubes and add this to the flour. Use your fingertips to rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Add the water very gradually, stirring it in with a knife. When the dough just sticks together, knead it lightly until it forms a ball.

Wrap in plastic wrap and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes in the refrigerator. It can be left in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Alternatively, it can be frozen until ready to use.

Note: Once you have the basic mixture, you can flavor it with toasted ground spices, chopped fresh herbs or toasted and finely chopped nuts.

— "Pie," by Angela Boggiano

Elizabeth Reid has bachelor's degrees in economics and history. She has worked in retail, medical billing, catering, education and business fields. Her favorite occupation is that of wife and mother. Her email is bizziereid@gmail.com.

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