Autumn means changing leaves and apple pie. Yes, my favorite dessert is the simple yet amazingly good apple pie, in all of its fresh and crusty and aromatic goodness. When fall arrives, we begin planning road trips to our favorite orchards and bake shops to pick up apple cider, apple cider doughnuts, apple pie, and more apples to bring home to make our own delicious treats. Is it hard to guess that I love apples?
As fall progresses and winter begins, it is a great time to start up our ovens and get baking. My grandmother was a baker. She always had a pie in the oven and cookies on the table, even though she was as thin as a rail! I loved her apple pie and her cake-like molasses cookies. Whenever she would visit, I always hoped to see that big mound of molasses cookies coming through the front door on a plate. Delight!
She was also a genuine Yankee and a woman who lived through the Great Depression, and as a result, she never wasted anything… and I mean anything, so sometimes we would find that we were being served one of her “mystery pies”. She would bring it to the table while telling us that since she had a couple pears, an apple, and a handful of cherries left in the refrigerator, she decided to made up a pie for us. And let me tell you, they were always good!
Baking brings back memories for all of us. It warms the hearth and our hearts. There is a magic to baking, and a satisfaction of seeing your delicious delight emerging from the oven and quickly disappearing from the serving plate. Embrace autumn, and let’s get baking!
The Perfect Pie by Susan G. Purdy provides more than 125 all-time favorite pie and tart recipes. Whether it’s the humble apple pie or a raspberry yogurt tart, Purdy has you covered. I’m already dreaming about the Tart Lemon Tart and the Mocha Crème Pie.
Purdy continues to entice with From Basic Apple to Four and Twenty Blackbirds It’s As Easy As Pie, an earlier book, that contains additional tips, pie recipes, and any recipe that uses a pie crust like quiches, timbales, and pot pies.
Sweet Gratitude by Judith Sutton provides recipes and tips for using baking as a way to give thanks to family and friends. Head to the kitchen instead of the mall next time you need to give a gift. Bring a plate of Chocolate Express Sandwich Cookies, Little Lemon Loaves, or Amazing Toffee Thins the next time you need to say “thank you”.
Baking Illustrated by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine will always bring you success. They are “America’s Test Kitchen”, and every recipe is tested repeatedly to develop the exact formula for the best outcome. Like all of their books, each recipe includes a lengthy discussion that explains what they tried and why they selected the prescribed approach. The photographs of the Corn and Apricot Muffins with Orange Essence, Banana Bread, and the Ricotta Calzones with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe are making me hungry right now!
The New Baking Book by Better Homes and Gardens is another trusted favorite. I know I always turn to my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook at home whenever I need to make a pie or quick bread. The spiral binder makes the cookbook especially useful in the kitchen. In this edition, they note the nutritional information per serving for each recipe and highlight ones that are low-fat and/or easy. They also have a section about baking with kids.
The Art and Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet is a sophisticated guide for the advanced baker. If baking is your passion, then you’ve met your match! Each recipe includes tips from the experts, what you can do prepare “ahead”, and how to store your finished delight. You’ll find classics like pumpkin pie mixed in with new ideas like Peach-Gingerbread Dumplings or Mexican Chocolate Crackle Cookies.
The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion by The King Arthur’s Flour Company won’t disappoint. I admit I have a bias because my grandmother always used King Arthur’s Flour and so do I. Can anyone resist the White Knight coming to our rescue in the kitchen? If you follow these recipes, you won’t need to be rescued and the Knight will be stopping over for a treat! I can almost smell the Vermont Oatmeal Maple-Honey Bread and the Easy Cinnamon Bread baking in the oven now.
Ann Marie is the Library Director for the Oliver Wolcott Library and loves anything with apples.