Bake the Book: First Prize Pies

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[Photograph: Tina Rupp]

Sometimes all you need is a little encouragement to get you where you need to be. For Allison Kave, celebrated Brooklyn pie maker and author of First Prize Pies, that sentiment couldn't be more true. It was with the encouragement of her boyfriend that she entered, and subsequently won, the Brooklyn Pie Bake-off in 2009. Since then, she's been cranking out deliciously inventive pies in every conceivable flavor.

First Prize Pies is a straight-up pie book, and it doesn't need to be anything more. It's organized by month, which means seasonal ingredients are highlighted, as well as seasonal cravings. And at this time of year, when it seems nothing is in season, simple chess pies are turned into things of wonder, like Chai Chess Pie and Malted Chess Pie. The former uses finely ground loose chai tea and spices for a deliciously complex filling, and the latter uses the power of malt powder and crushed malt balls for that inimitable malted-milk flavor.

Of course, the business of baking pies goes far beyond celebrating the seasons. A pie's structure lends itself to personalization. It can serve as a baker's signature, or be customized to pay homage to someone special. That's where Apple Cider Cream comes in: Allison's boyfriend, the same one who supported her pie-making efforts, invented this award-winning beauty. There's also Samantha Bee's Salty Caramel, a pie Allison created to honor Daily Show contributor Samantha Bee. Both are excellent pies, but more than that, they're deeply personal.

We'll be baking up each of the aforementioned pies, with tips and tweaks to help you along the way. With enough practice, who knows? You may end up earning some prizes of your own.

Win A Copy!

Thanks to the generous folks over at Abrams Books, we are giving away five (5) copies of First Prize Pies this week. All you have to do is share the name of your LEAST favorite pie.

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