DuncanKateRobinDuncan McDermott Graham (Kate’s son), Kate McDermott, and Robin Jacobs, the three musketeers of The Art of the Pie workshop.

It’s rare that I get to take classes from a professional baker because I’m the one who usually gives the classes. All that changed recently when my wife, Dorothy, and I, were invited to attend a baking weekend called Upper Crust at Paws Up, a world-class resort just an hour away from our home in Montana. Full disclosure: My wife and I were comped for this extraordinary weekend.

Two gifted teachers, Kate McDermott, who is renowned for her gorgeous pies, and Mindy Segal, a James Beard Award-winning pastry chef from Chicago, conducted hands-on workshops.

I attended Kate’s workshop first, where we each made our very own apple pies, including a terrific butter and lard pastry. [...Read More]

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Italian Prune PlumsWell, it’s been quite a while since I made my last post, and for that I apologize. But last week I was thrilled to find Italian prunes at our farmers’ market, and I thought I’d repost my recipe for baking them in a galette. I’d always called these succulent fall fruits Italian Prune Plums. But I now have learned, thanks to my friend, John Keegan, that I have been wrong. Here’s what he wrote when I made my original post on October 14, 2013. [...Read More]

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BakedStrawberryPieJustOutOfOvenThis is a special pie I first learned about when I was in the Tenth Pillsbury Bake-Off as a teenage contestant. Mary Police, who won a cash prize for the pie, was sitting with me and four other contestants at a table at the awards luncheon in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. It turned out that all six of us had won awards for our entries, which caused quite a stir. Ronald Reagan (yes, our future president) hosted our group and Art Linkletter presented us with the checks. But back to the pie. [...Read More]

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BakedCheeseSpinachSouffleOne of the best things about living in Missoula, Montana, is our public radio station, KUFM. Once a year there’s a fund-raiser that lasts 9 days and it is a rip-roaring event that involves the entire community. This year I decided to offer a premium, a soufflé class for four people, to celebrate the publication of my new cookbook, “Soufflés.” Each participant was to bring her own mixing bowl, whisk, and a dozen organic eggs. And during the course of a few hours in my kitchen we’d work together to learn soufflé techniques and produce two soufflés: A Spinach and Cheese Soufflé for lunch and individual Chocolate Soufflés for dessert. [...Read More]

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ServingBlueberryCaroleThirty-five years ago, this simple and delicious European-style blueberry pastry was published on the last page of the Cuisinart® magazine, The Pleasures of Cooking. A buttery pastry is filled with blueberries enrobed with beaten egg whites, topped with a streusel, and baked. I’ve found versions of it on various blogs, but some detail is lacking in all of them. So it’s time to set the record straight. [...Read More]

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Apricot Berry Crumble 8

Can you imagine how thrilled I was when Food and Wine magazine voted Apricot Berry Crumble “Best of the Best” shortly after Baking in America was published? Thrilled and surprised, actually, because the dessert is so simple and uncomplicated. So, what exactly is a “crumble?” According to Richard Sax’s Classic Home Desserts, it’s a fruit dessert baked with a topping containing oats, essentially an English version of American “crisps”. What both these types of desserts share is a crumbly topping of flour, sugar, and butter that bakes crisp on top as the underside sinks into the fruit to flavor and thicken it. They go way back in our history. [...Read More]

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