Doing what we do, we get to mix and eat with a lot of great chefs, but we have a sweet spot for Saura Madani, executive pastry chef at Kevin Taylor Restaurant Group, whom we had the chance to meet during her impressive performance and ultimate win at La Coupe d’Altamira, renowned pastry competition made possible by Altamira Food. Since being present for her memorable trophy kiss in 2018, RMFR has had the pleasure of sharing recipes from Madani’s personal baking blog, aptly named, Sweet Saura, and now we find ourselves salivating over the release of her cookbook Easy as Pie: The Essential Pie Cookbook for Every Season and Reason, which publishes just in time for the holidays.
When you eat (and see) Madani’s creations, whether it’s bonbons, a layered piece of cake or a sophisticated show piece, you can really feel the love and the intentionality in her approach. Staying true to her genuine, dessert-loving fashion, she dedicates her satisfying literary project to Miriam, her grandmother, crediting the matriarch as the responsible party that “introduced me to my love of pie.”
“My favorite early memory of cooking comes from a visit to my grandmother’s house,” says Madani. “She had wonderful fruit trees, and the peach was my very favorite. During that visit, she took those peaches and made a homemade peach pie. It was divine- the perfect balance of tart and sweet with a buttery flaky crust. Who knew a pie could be so wonderful? After that experience I opted for a peach pie instead of a birthday cake on my birthday for several years.”
Easy as Pie artfully reflects it’s title with a beautifully simplistic format that offers step-by-step techniques for mixing, shaping, rolling, and finishing your dough, all key factors in order to make the perfect, homemade pie from scratch. Madani refines your typical pastry base with instructions to bake a fail-safe, flaky, buttery crust that prefaces the 50 creative recipes which she breaks down into: spring and summer pies, fall and winter pies and anytime pies; because when is there not a good time for pie?
We feel that.
Her compilation is unique in that it covers the full spectrum of possibilities ranging from a savory fig, onion and Gorgonzola gallette and pineapple ham & cheese hand pies to the necessary ice box coconut and banana cream versions, an approachable PB&J take and of course, the quintessential classics that include pumpkin, cherry and all-American apple.
We don’t often ask chefs to pick favorites, because it’s the equivalent of asking a parent which kid they prefer, but Madani readily shares that right behind her affinity for peach she has a fondness for the colorful combination in her raspberry-peach streusel pie.
“In the backyard garden of my dreams, I have a peach tree, a raspberry bush, and about 20 other fruits and vegetables,” says Madani. “These two fruits are always in season at the same time and that’s great news for us, friends, because this flavor combination is special. Raspberries have a deep, slightly tart, but sweet flavor that is unique in the berry family and juicy, ripe peaches complement them perfectly. This pie is also gorgeous when sliced because both fruits hold up on their own and display their bright orange and bold rosy-pink colors. The streusel topping is spiced with cinnamon and the oatmeal gives this pie a chewy-crisp texture in every fruit bite.”
Easy as Pie is currently available for pre-order on Amazon and officially launches on Tuesday, November 19. So go ahead and preheat the oven and follow our special link to purchase your copy right here.
Do you like free? Need help baking at altitude? Enjoy reading and/or drooling over gorgeous pastry pics? Well, good news, head on over to our Instagram account @rockyfoodreport to enter our cookbook giveaway and win you/yours a copy of Easy as Pie.
*Easy as Pie IG giveaway closes on Tuesday, November 19, at noon. Limited to U.S. residents
All images courtesy of Easy as Pie photographer: Darren Muir