Has an avalanche of tomatoes, squash, berries, or beets landed in your kitchen?
Never fear, Ken Haedrich is here to help. He has a new book, The Harvest Baker: 150 Sweet and Savory Recipes Celebrating the Fresh-Picked Flavors of Fruits, Herbs and Vegetables. Even better, he’ll be visiting Charlotte on August 22 and will help you solve your persistent pie problems.
Talking by phone from his home in Wilmington, NC, the New Jersey native and self-made baker explained he didn’t devote years of study to the science of pastry arts. “The ‘pie seed’ was planted a long time ago. My mom and dad had a weekend ritual. They’d put all seven of us kids in the ‘woodie,’ go out into the mountains and purchase a nice, big, bushel basket of apples, and make an apple pie together.” With pie-baking in his DNA, he perfected his skills learning to feed himself and his buddies during a stint in the Navy, and later while working as a cook at a children’s home.
That’s a sweet story, but what does that mean today? Plenty. “Pie is such a democratic, universal vessel for so many things. There’s no meal that can’t be improved by putting a crust over, under, or around it,” he proclaims audaciously. And Haedrich can prove it. He’s authored 15 books, won a Julia Child Cookbook Award, and is the self-styled “Dean” of The Pie Academy, an online resource with lots of free content and links to weekend “Pie Getaways.”
Haedrich is quick to dispel the “Easy as Pie” myth. “Pie is not easy,” he explains. “People think it should be, because they’ve always heard that. There are a hundred things that are not overly difficult, but you have to be willing to learn the little tricks.”
Adding to the problem are those perfect images we see on magazine covers. “They look like a piece of sculpture. I tell people, ‘You don’t know that a team of food stylists and bakers have spent a week on that cover. Yours is never going to look that good. Mine is never going to look that good. Forget about it. Learn to love your ugly pies.’”
Haedrich will visit Park Road Books on Tuesday, Aug 22, from 7:00 to 8:30 pm. He’ll discuss what it means to bake with the harvest, sample baked goods from his book, and answer questions about pie-making and baking. The event is free and books will be available for purchase.