Conventional wisdom advises not to make something completely new for company — stick to things you've successfully tried before. That's OK for some things, but dessert? Pie? I don't really want an entire pie sitting in my kitchen, so, good or bad, I usually save my dessert experimenting for company. So far I've been pretty lucky with choosing winning recipes, and the two I made from Jennifer Katzinger's Gluten-Free & Vegan Pie, were right up there at the top of the list.
The pie book includes more than 50 recipes for both sweet and savory pies with more than a dozen variations for both press-in nut crusts and pastry crusts. There's even a hand pie and turnover dough. It took me a long time to decide on a pie to try, but I finally chose a chocolate cream pie with a press-in crust.
The crust went together beautifully, though I did have to bake it about five minutes longer than in the directions, which I usually find with my oven. The filling was also simple to make, using easy to find ingredients.
The end result was a gorgeous pie with an unbelievable texture and taste. It was creamy, rich and celestially light, but not too sweet — a very adult bittersweet chocolate flavor. Sensational, really. I was so glad to be sharing it with a roomful of people, because it was the sort of ethereal confection that magically disappears into one's mouth.
My original plan had been to try one press-in and one pastry crust with one cream pie and one fruit pie, but I was so enamored with the cream pie section of the book (and the results of the chocolate cream pie recipe!) that I just had to make a banana cream pie. Banana cream pies have given me pause ever since a particularly weird one that I made long ago. It was my first vegan banana cream pie, and I wrote about it in a post in 2009:
Well, I needn't have feared, Jennifer Katzinger's banana cream pie was as wonderful as her chocolate pie — rich, creamy, and lighter than air.Several years ago I came across a recipe for vegan banana cream pie and was so excited I couldn't wait to try it. I didn't make a single change to the recipe - just followed the directions exactly. The pie was gorgeous, and it was with great anticipation that we waited until dessert to try it. Let me tell you, you could have bounced a ball off that pie. Couldn't crush it with a sledgehammer. Couldn't dent it with a crowbar. Couldn't eat it with a fork. That pie could have stopped a speeding bullet faster than Superman. And it didn't taste good, either. We stared at the pie in horror and disappointment for a brief moment, then collapsed in hysterical laughter. We laughed about it for days, and even now someone might occasionally say, "remember the banana cream pie?"
In addition to the cream pies, there are loads of recipes for fruit pies and tarts — with single crusts, double crusts, and streusel toppings — as well as savory pies. I'm looking forward to trying more of the pies — especially a savory provincial tart, that I have my eye on.
As far as ingredients go, the press-in crusts mostly depend on almond flour, and the pastry crusts are mostly dependent on brown rice flour, tapioca starch, arrowroot starch and potato starch. The cream and fat sources are coconut milk and coconut oil, and the sugar is mainly evaporated cane juice. I didn't see any xanthan gum in the recipes. You can look inside the book on Amazon to see more precisely what the ingredients are.
Jennifer Katzinger is the former owner of the popular Seattle gluten-free and vegan, Flying Apron Bakery. She is the author of Flying Apron's Gluten-Free Baking Book, Gluten-Free and Vegan Holidays, and Gluten-Free and Vegan Bread. She lives in Seattle.
Disclosure: The cookbook was sent to me by the publisher, Sasquatch Books. They did not require, or influence my review. The review contains Amazon links.
A word about book reviews. Cookbooks are written by real people with real feelings who sweated blood to get their books written, tested and published. I hate to say negative things about someone's work, but I also dislike leading people astray as to whether they might like a book or not. It's a dilemma. Occasionally I decline to review a book that I really dislike, but usually there's something good that can be said about a book even if I personally wouldn't buy it. In my reviews I try to highlight the things I find most successful, while at the same time describing the book in a way that will give the reader insight into whether or not this would be a cookbook he or she might enjoy. Even if the book isn't my cup of tea, it may be perfect for someone else. No judgement here about whether your meal should be fat-free or fat-rich, filled with meat substitutes or focused on creative vegetable dishes, mild or spicy. That's for you to decide.