September 05, 2013

Gluten-Free & Vegan Pie by Jennifer Katzinger review


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:
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?"
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. 

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.

30 comments:

  1. Wow. Just wow. Those look so pretty. I'm surprised you can bear to share them! I'd be quietly nosebagging the chocolate one to myself!

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    1. I HAVE to share them. I would eat them all, and even though they were delicious, it would be too much! :)

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  2. Oh wow--gluten free AND vegan pies?! I love it! Who would have thought a publisher would have the guts to publish such a niche book? I am glad they did, though :) Your pies all look lovely!

    Courtney

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    1. 2013 seems to be the year of the vegan pie book. And I think many, if not all, contain gluten-free versions. But, GF and Vegan is pretty cool.

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  3. Wow that chocolate cream pie looks delicious!

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    1. It was crazy delicious. I couldn't stop thinking about it! And really easy to make.

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  4. The pictures of the pie you made look fantastic. I'm glad they both turned out for you! I'm sure that was a big relief after your last banana cream pie fiasco. lol :)

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    1. The chocolate was my favorite but, yes, I'd say they both turned out well!

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  5. LOL @ the sledgehammer pie...I'm glad I'm not the only one to have made sledgehammer pies. And brownies. I think we threw out the baking pan once with those. ;)
    Thanks for the review...I'd love to try the Blueberry Cream Pie and Curried Parsnip Pie and so many others!

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    1. Sledgehammer pie is now an image stuck in my head. Is there a sledgehammer pie support group? So many soft pies await!

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  6. Can I come to your house for dessert?! I've had many a snafu with baking and pies have always scared the crap outta me (to make). But yours look beautifully executed!

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    1. Yes, you can. But I must warn you that the pies are few and far between. If I could make these pies, you can, too. They were so easy! I was amazed at how simple they were to make compared to how great they turned out.

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  7. This sounds like a really great cookbook! I have Isa Chandra's pie book but since this is gluten-free and I don't own a single gluten-free cookbook, this would probably a great addition to my cookbook shelf. It sounds like I can learn a lot from it.

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    1. I haven't tried the pastry crusts or fruit fillings so I can't vouch for them, but the two cream pies sure were good.

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  8. What a great, and helpful cookbook review! I like the cover of the cookbook! The chocolate cream pie with a press-in crust you made was beautiful.

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  9. Well, at first I thought you couldn't have made a better choice than the chocolate cream pie...but then you picked the banana cream pie! I have not had a banana cream pie since I was a kid. That would be my go-to birthday dessert pick. I didn't want a cake; I wanted banana cream pie. The ingredients seem a little intimidating, but I have a feeling once you load up your pantry with them, it wouldn't be overwhelming each time. Just like becoming vegetarian, then vegan. Steps, steps, steps. I'm not going gluten-free, but I'd like to try out some cool recipes! Now how about chocolate banana cream pie, eh? :-)

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    1. You're in luck because I have a recipe for chocolate banana cream pie right here on the blog. It uses a prepared filling from Nasoya called Silken Style Creations. Here's the link: http://bit.ly/17Ee9aj I couldn't find Jennifer's recipes online, except for the crust, which you can find on Amazon following the link in this post. I gave up gluten because it gives me stomach pains, otherwise I'd still be eating it!

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  10. I for one happen to appreciate the fact that you are unconventional and do not rely on wisdom. Even more importantly I like that you keep a crowbar in your kitchen.
    Killer pie!!

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    1. How did you know about the crowbar?

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  11. Those pies look and sounds ridiculously enticing! I'm not GF, but I wouldn't hesitate to try these recipes; from the sound of your review they're not overly complicated.

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    1. When you think about it, most pie fillings are either gluten-free or can easily be made so. The crusts are a different story. The press-in crust I used from the book had four ingredients — almond flour, coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla. Oh, and salt. Easy as pie.

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  12. Wow, those pies all look amazing! So happy the banana cream pie worked out, I've been there before when baking, wondering what the heck went wrong. Sounds like a cookbook perfect for me. :-)

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    1. The banana cream pie was very good, but the chocolate — OMG. And I don't use that expression often.

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  13. The pie you made from the cookbook looks perfect! That's exactly the kind of pies I am drawn to because of the soft texture...and the chocolate of course!

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    1. The pies were magically pillow-soft — but firm enough to slice. I couldn't believe the lighter-than-air quality of the chocolate pie — so good.

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  14. There is nothing I'd rather have than a chocolate or cream pie (or cheesecake). I bought a gluten free crust to use in one the other day, and I was surprised how much I loved it, more than the wheat crusts.

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    1. I'm often surprised at how good GF baked goods can be — can't tell the difference, usually. I just made some amazing scones!

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  15. A whole section for cream pies?! Wow. Andrea, you chocolate cream pie looks heavenly and I loved your descriptive narrative.
    India
    A Vegan Obsession

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    1. Thank you! I had great recipes and inspiration!

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