Friday, November 15, 2013

Pie Perfection: Adventures in baking with the perfect cookbook for the holiday season

Of the many milestones in a book’s publication, my favorite is opening the delivery box and picking up a finished copy of my client’s book for the first time. I recently opened the delivery box to find Linda Hundt’s charming retro cookbook, Sweetie-licious Pies, published last month by Skirt! Books.

Sweetie-licious Pies is the first cookbook I’ve represented, and I couldn’t wait to see how the photographs, text and recipes had come together. The final product exceeded my expectations--I am so proud of this beautiful package!

Featuring fifty-two original recipes, accompanied by gorgeous photos of Linda’s farm in Michigan and mouth-watering images of the pies themselves, Sweetie-licious Pies is the most heavily designed book I’ve worked with yet. I spent a solid hour pouring over the images and re-reading the heart-warming stories behind the creation of each pie. I was so inspired that by the time I set the book down, I vowed to do something I’d never attempted before--bake.

I do not exaggerate when I tell you I don’t have a sweet tooth. In the epic battle of sweet vs. savory, savory always wins in my book. As a kid, I’d turn over my Halloween candy to my brother and sister with a nonchalant shrug and watch them fight over the spoils. To this day, I’ll take a bag of potato chips over chocolate every time. All of which might make you wonder--why does someone who doesn’t like dessert have a pie cookbook on her list? I’ll tell you--it’s all about the crust. I love pie crust. It’s the perfect savory balance to a sugary dessert, the salty yin to fruit’s sweet yang. On a restaurant menu, pie is the one dessert that tempts me, but I’d never tried to bake my own--until the other Sunday.

With sixteen-time national pie-baking champion Linda Hundt’s beautiful cookbook to guide me, I figured I had a good shot at success. I enlisted the help of my in-house photographer/husband to document my baking adventure.

Here’s a little photo show of how it all went down:

To take advantage of the autumn’s delicious apples, I decided to make “Mom Hundt’s Apple Almond Pie” (p88). I lined up all my ingredients and set to work.

This pie calls for a homemade cream cheese crust. Following Linda’s easy recipe (p2), I used my standing mixer for the first time ever and later shaped the dough into a disk to cool in the fridge.

After the dough cooled in the fridge, I rolled it out and carefully placed it over the pie pan. Then into the freezer it went! Linda always recommends working with a frozen crust.

Next step was preparing the apple almond filling. The smells of cinnamon-apple goodness coming from this pot were incredible! After I assembled the pie and popped it in the oven, my trusty sidekick Finn helped me by licking some of the measuring utensils clean.

Voila--Mom Hundt’s Apple Almond Pie!

Baking this pie was a blast, but the final result didn’t last long. Between a little slice here and a tiny bite there, we polished off the pie in just a few days. Luckily, we had extra apples from our trip to the farmer’s market and most of the ingredients needed to bake another.

Behold Round Two: Grandma Ferrell’s Caramel Apple pie (p146)!

Apparently I’m not the only one who’s had apple pies on the brain. Food and Wine Magazine just named Linda’s “Laura’s Sticky Toffee Pudding Caramel Apple Pie” as one of America’s Best Apple Pies. Check out the mouth-watering slide show in which Linda’s pie has top billing here.

Midwest Living also recently featured Linda and Sweetie-licious Pies. The cookbook is featured as a Midwest favorite in the magazine's Holiday Gift Guide.

So this holiday season, whether you're planning what to give for holiday gifts or what to make for holiday dessert, look no further than Sweetie-licious Pies!

Below are some of the great things people have been saying about Sweetie-licious Pies:

“Linda Hundt brings you the sweetness of pie and blends it with tradition, family, nostalgia, and fabulous recipes into one thoroughly all-American pie cookbook.” --Debbie Macomber, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Starting Now and The Inn At Rose Harbor

“Linda Hundt is like the world's greatest pie librarian and Sweetie-licious is a colorful, approachable, pie-lover's dream. It's as if Linda collected the best possible pie recipes from the world's coolest grandmothers, vintage church supper cookbooks, and route 66 diners, then sprinkled them with her own unique and talented voodoo. Get ready to put this book in your 'most frequently used' part of your kitchen library.” --Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, authors of Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients

“With the glide of a rolling pin, Sweeti-Licious Pies transports you to Small Town America, where pies cool on the windowsill, there's a watering can in the garden, and everyone gathers for family dinner. Linda Hundt is truly changing the world, one pie at a time. Make mine a slice of The Farmette's Blueberry Basil Cream Pie!” --Judith Fertig, author of Heartland: The Cookbook


  1. Great post & the pie looks delicious. I have to add this book to my Christmas list!

  2. Wow, Elizabeth, beautiful job for a first time pie baker! This cookbook looks amazing (great title and cover design.) I need to buy it- and I will!