Who doesn’t love a good pie? I do believe a slice of pie can be the cure-all for any ailment. Chicken soup—step aside if you please.
I believe that author Nancie McDermott would agree with me. Nancie follows up her best selling Southern Cakes: Sweet and Irresistible Recipes for Everyday Celebrations (2007) with Southern Pies: A Gracious Plenty of Pie Recipes from Lemon Chess to Chocolate Pecan so that she could again excite readers and food lovers to explore in traditional Southern food.
Right away, Southern Pies stuns you in its well-designed form–sturdy cover, crisp pages, sharp typography, and colorful photographs. Nancie introduces the cookbook with a brief history of the Southern pie that got its earliest start from colonial British influences to longstanding family traditions that passed through generations. And next, she includes a list of essential tools that any baker (regardless of experience or skill) would need to begin.
Nancie sorts over 60 recipes into nine categories. From the seemingly old “Antiques & Heirlooms” to the intriguing “A Chess Pie Compendium” to the straightforward “Chocolate Pies,” I can’t imagine someone not being able to find a pie that would encapsulate their life in one bite. There is even a chapter on piecrusts, which I thought was extremely helpful. Nancie also briefly introduces each chapter with some history, general tidbits, and her own thoughts.
There’s a wide range of recipes from more traditional pies like Coconut Cream Pie and Butterscotch Pie to more regional pies like Cajun Tarte á la Bouillie and Paula Lamont’s Williamsburg Peanut Butter Cream Pie. There are even seasonal pies if you insist on being timely for the spring (a beautiful Strawberry Icebox Pie) or fall (Winchester Sun Pumpkin Pie).
I believe my two favorites recipes would have to be Betty Thomason’s Chocolate Chess Pie and the cocoa powder-dusted Chocolate Angel Pie.
Various pies are featured by Leigh Beisch‘s beautiful photography. There’s a homely timelessness to the photos as if the pies were just baked and waiting to be enjoyed. Nancie McDermott fell in love with Southern pies as they were designed to be easy-to-cook, tasty, and elegant, and she herself does them justice in her easy-to-follow Southern Pies cookbook.
Note: Article first published as “Book Review: Southern Pies: A Gracious Plenty of Pie Recipes from Lemon Chess to Chocolate Pecan by Nancie McDermott” on Blogcritics.