Technically, I have not yet read this book - at least not the narrative part. But after Book Cupidity wrote about her fabulous experience with one of the pie recipes (complete with amazing drool-worthy pictures of her pie), and Whiskey in the Jar followed up with a Tasty Tuesday challenge and her favourite Pop Tart recipe, reading the narrative was not my primary concern.
I bought this book on Thursday last week with the intent of making the dough and using it for the pop tart recipe on Sunday. Now, you have to understand that I am not a cook - I lack any instinct for food beyond the basic need to not starve - so when I am forced to cook, I need exact details; don't give me that 'use your instincts' crap - I need exact measurements, preferably out to at least 2 decimal places.
Needless to say, I didn't go into this with the zen attitude that the author insists is necessary for successful pie, but I did go into it thinking 'screw it - if I screw up, I'll still eat it'. And then I made two batches of the basic all-butter dough, questioning myself all the way through. The first batch grew up to be brown sugar cinnamon pop tarts, without frosting because I don't like frosting and I used the scraps to make the pinwheels that McDermott includes in this book. Those may or may not have been my dinner on Sunday night.
They were good - so much flakier than I expected them to be. I took one to work yesterday and made a right proper mess of my desk; like eating a croissant, there were flakes everywhere. My only complaint about the pop tart recipe was that there was a ton of the filling left over, but I stuck it in a jar and figured I'd have it ready made for future pop tarts.
Today (totally a coincidence, btw, that it is Tuesday) I came home from work and took one of the extra discs of dough out to make McDermott's Rustic Tart for dessert tonight. I had intended to make an apple pie until I saw this recipe, which looked easier and made two smaller tarts, which meant I could halve the recipe; a perfect size for just MT and myself. Because while I know from experience that MT and I can polish off a whole pie by ourselves, it always ends in guilt and recriminations.
I was also making a cottage pie for dinner, so I didn't have a lot of time. This is another reason I was drawn to the Rustic Tart recipe - McDermott included an option to use fresh fruit instead of a more complicated fruit pie filling. I cut up a Granny Smith, a Golden Delicious, and a Royal Gala, rolled out one disc of dough and piled all the fruit in the middle. McDermott calls for a 1/4 cup of sugar sprinkled over the top with a small dusting of nutmeg, but I had a brain storm: left over pop tart filling!! It's brown sugar and it's cinnamon (a bit of flour too but I figured that would keep everything from bubbling out of control) and why the hell not? So, see, I was meant to have extra pop tart filling left over. I added a small sprinkling of nutmeg, as suggested, and then folded the dough over. I knew if I failed at everything else, I totally nailed rustic.
After refrigerating it for a couple of hours, I did the egg wash and sprinkled it with a last dusting of sugar, but I felt fancy and dug out my sparkly sugar I use for Christmas cookies.
How much does that look like a pretzel? But it smelled amazing.
I have to admit, these last pictures were taken with less care - I was hungry and I wanted to eat my pie! A small drizzle of cream and... pretty good if I do say so myself. The crust could probably have been a bit more tender, and I could have used more fruit, given the amount of shrinkage, but look at those flakes - I've never baked anything that's flaked like that before!! MT said he was too stuffed to have any, while almost simultaneously cutting himself first one, then a second, slice. He's a hard one to impress, so I'm pretty happy all around with this first effort, and the pop tart filling with the apples worked - for no muss, no fuss, I'd say you can't go wrong with it.
So the TL;DR version is this: if you like pie, go buy the book. It's worth every penny (and I bought this in Australia, so believe you me, I paid through the nose for this book and it's still worth every penny). Then, go check out the pop tart recipe that Whiskey In the Jar links to and have fun!