Today’s FORKING SEATTLE excerpt: Meet the woman behind Pie Cottage. (For some reason, Amazon isn’t accepting reviews. Grrr.)
There are three kinds of people in the world, Kate McDermott will tell you: pie-makers, pie-eaters, and pie-seekers. There’s another argument: there are pie people and there are cake people, a distinction that eluded me completely, since I didn’t consider myself either one, or didn’t until I watched McDermott bake her peach pie.After all, people have been making pie since the dawn of civilization (or since the advent of milled grain, at any rate), and McDermott’s mission these days (she used to be a musician) is to teach the mechanics (as well as the art) of pie-making to whoever comes through the door.
Begin, she insists, with King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour. “I want wheat growers to take this class,” she says, “so they can see what a difference the right flour makes.” Irish butter, foil-wrapped Kerrygold, with high fat content. Leaf lard; she gets hers shipped from Pennsylvania. Regular supermarket sugar, a touch of seasoning (salt, nutmeg), some thickener so you don’t get fruit soup.
For the fruit, in late summer, McDermott uses Frog Hollow Cal-Red peaches, shipped in single-layer boxes that cuddle a dozen peaches from the farm in Brentwood, Calif. Her ex, Jon Rowley, started the Peach-O-Rama promotion for Metropolitan Markets with these peaches,using a refractometer to measure the sugar content: at least 13 brix (percent sugar). For a demonstration at Diane’s Market Kitchen, she used peaches that measure 20 brix, off the charts. “The omigodpeach,” McDermott called it.
The details of the pie-making process are not complicated as long as you keep everything ice-cold, and won’t be repeated here. They’re at McDermott’s website, www.artofthepie.com. She also teaches pie-making classes in Seattle and her home, “Pie Cottage,” in Port Angeles. Trust me that when you taste the pie,with its flaky crust and luscious filling, you will become a believer. The very act of pie-eating will turn you a pie-seeker. You are a disciple now, and recite the mantra: be happy, eat pie.
And should you want to venture beyond dessert, McDermott will gladly help you out. Her latest book, Home Cooking, which came out last month,
includes dozens of recipes for one-dish meals.