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Great Pies & Tarts Hardcover – April 7, 1998
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For anyone interested in baking terrific pies and tarts, this is the book to own. Such a fuss is made over pie and tart disasters, over the uncanny inability of some to make a perfect pie crust dough and whatnot, and really, to no end. So what? Go work on your perfect golf swing. The thrill is in the trying, again and again, and Walter makes you want to try.
Two minor caveats: The layout for the front end of the book, which includes the vital section called "The Primer," is unfortunate. It's all but impossible to look at for any length of time, let alone to read and study. Page after page of four columns of black type per page is tiresome on the eyes. If Carole Walter baked pies that looked like this layout, she'd be thrown out of the state fair.
The other minor note is the extensive use of the food processor. Either have one first, or buy one with this book.
Beyond that, the challenge is clear. If Fruity Viennese Linzer Tart sounds good to you, this is the place to learn absolutely everything you need to know to make it. Or how about the classic Key Lime Pie? Or a White Chocolate Caffe Tart?
If you get into this book and embrace the idea that practice makes perfect, or thereabouts, you are in for some exciting baking. The pastry doughs and crunchy shells are worth the price of admission, because once mastered, your only limitations for mixing up shells and ingredients are your own imagination.
Carole Walter may have written the greatest liberation text of the year. You shall overcome any residual fear you might have of trying your hand at pie and tart baking if you follow this book from page one to the sweet, sweet end. -- Schuyler Ingle
From Library Journal
Walter (Great Cakes, LJ 10/15/91) has been a cooking teacher for more than 25 years, and her experience shows in this authoritative guide to pastry making. The first section, "Before You Begin," covers ingredients, equipment, and techniques in detail; a lengthy Fruit and Berry Glossary is a particularly helpful resource. Then, because so many home cooks suffer from "fear of pie crust," Walter includes a Primer, a mini-cooking course that describes step by step how to make two basic pie and tart pastries and four classic recipes?an apple and a lemon meringue pie, and two European-style fruit tarts (one with pastry cream and one without). Then come more than 150 recipes, from Big Easy Apple Tart to Devilish Chocolate Candy Tart to Strawberry Ice Cream Pie; there are more than 40 pages of crust recipes alone, as well as cobblers, lower-fat treats, and some savory pies and tarts. Walter writes well, and her instructions are clear and thorough; novices will welcome her book, but seasoned bakers will also find it useful both as a reference and as a source of inspiration. An essential purchase.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Other books embellish the pie and the preparation method to where it becomes a culinary production. Ms. Walter's recipes focus on the basics. Her pies can be prepared in reasonable time with consistent results. Pies were meant to be simple affairs. Baking a simple pie that emphasizes the quality and natural tastes of the ingredients is what baking a pie is all about.
Of all the pie crust recipes I have tried/read, Carole Walter's flaky pie crust is my favorite. 1/2 cut shortening, 1/2 cut butter, 3 tsp sugar and 3/4 tsp salt with 2-1/4 cups of flour and just enough ice water produces a quick and reliable result for all my pies. I find combining the Walter proportions with a technique I learned from Rose Branbaum's book on pies, placing the dry ingredients in the freezer for an hour or more ahead of time, produces an even better result. In pie dough, temperature is critical. I make my crust by hand with a pastry blender: more control over consistency and water content; less mess to clean up.
Having multiple pie books is good for new ideas and techniques, borrowing and cross-poliction of techniques is good, but there is something about the simplicity of Carole Walter's recipes and techniques that makes this my standard pie book. Pies are all about quick and reliable. That is what you get with these recipes.
I bought a second copy of this book used, in case I somehow drop raspberry filling on my primary copy and all the pages get stuck together. I would not want to be without this book.