Kate McDermott, who learned to bake pie from her own Iowa grandmother, has taught the time-honored craft to thousands through her Pie Camps and workshops. In her first book, she offers a lifetime of secrets, pie wisdom, and good advice. (Step one: keep everything chilled, including yourself.)
ART OF THE PIE: A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO HOMEMADE CRUSTS, FILLINGS, AND LIFE by Kate McDermott is now a nominee for the 2017 James Beard Awards in Baking & Desserts.
ART OF THE PIE has been receiving accolades since its publication—it was named one of 2016’s best cookbooks, “a new baking bible” (Wall Street Journal) and “one of the best books ever written on the subject.” (Publisher’s Weekly). It was nominated for two IACP awards, including one for the extraordinary photos from the New York Times’ Andrew Scrivani.
We had a chance to interview her recently via e-mail!
Tell us about yourself and background.
I’ve always been fortunate to do things I love to make a living and support my family. For decades I worked in the field of professional music, first as an accompanist and then as a teacher and coach. All the while I baked and cooked. When I’m not in my kitchen baking a pie to give away or teaching piemaking, I love to garden, sew, knit, read, and take walks with my sweet dog Gretapie.
· What inspired you to start baking and cooking?
As a little girl I was very fortunate to have baking mentors, including my grandmother and neighbors, all of whom inspired and encouraged me. There was never any right way or wrong way to do things and we celebrated my successes as well as my more creative experiments…a/k/a “failures.” Of course I really enjoyed the edible results! As years went by I found great joy in baking for others. I was usually the one who would bring cakes and cookies to school for birthdays or just because.
· What are your first childhood food memories?
I’m a little embarrassed to say that my first food memories were not all that great. I was not fond of over cooked vegetables when I was a little girl and remember sitting at the table pushing green mush around on my plate until I had taken the required number of bites so I could run outside to play.
· What were some of your favorite dishes to cook growing up and now?
I still love baking chocolate chip cookies, scones, muffins, and of course homemade bread. Growing up in Southern California I was introduced to excellent Mexican food and I make some pretty darn good enchiladas!
· What are some pro-tips for aspiring bakers that you’d like to give?
- Recipes are starting places but be sure to try it once as written before changing it.
- Use the freshest and most flavorful ingredients you can find especially for seasonal fruit pies.
- In pie making it is important to keep everything chilled, including the fats, your hands, and your environment.
- Make enough to give away to friends and neighbors and enjoy your time in the kitchen.
· What are some of your favorite recipes that can be found in the book?
Chicken pot pie, shepherds pie, apple pie, sour cherry pie, chai pie, and my very favorite peach pie.
· Favorite dish to bake ever?
Besides pie? Home-baked bread!
Purchase “ART OF THE PIE: A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO HOMEMADE CRUSTS, FILLINGS, AND LIFE
” on Amazon here.