Evan Kleiman Bakes a Pie A Day, For the Entire Summer
Pie: Every. Single. Day.
If I were forced to choose between pie and cake for the rest of my life, I'd pick pie in an instant, no contest. With pie you can go sweet, you can go savory, you can have chocolate, or you can choose from a rainbow of fruit pies. Pie-making, with the rolling out of dough and tossing of the filing, is such a superior tactile experience to the scoop, sift, and stir hum-drum of making a cake.
When my cousin got married, he and his wife chose to have a table full of pies and tubs of Straus ice cream instead of a big ol' wedding cake. I consider this a genius move, and way cooler than the "cupcakes-instead-of-a-wedding cake" craze that seems to be sweeping the wedding scene these days.
Evan Kleiman—the voice behind KCRW's delightful radio program Good Food and the Chef at Angeli Caffe in Los Angeles—has, bless her soul, committed to baking one pie a day for the entire summer. That's ninety pies!
Kleiman doesn't discriminate when it comes to pies. Some she makes are gorgeous, some are on the more homely side, but you can bet they all taste delicious. Kleiman doesn't plan the pie for the day—she just wakes up in the morning and gets inspired by what looks good and what's in season. She's gone way beyond the classic "American as apple pie" definition, making shepherd's pie, ice cream pies, cream pies, fried pies, gallettes, crostadas, small French tarts, and bastillas. But as for her favorite pie, she says:
If there were just one pie in my universe it would be the double crust apple pie—no contest. It has everything. The yielding sweetness of fruit cooked in sugar with a hint of cinnamon. If I were an apple, it’s how I’d like to go.
However, the road to total summer pie domination hasn't always been easy. After the July 4th weekend, Kleiman felt that she had overdosed on pie. So she came up with the totally original "Black Cat Pie."
Kleiman dreamed up the pie-a-day idea to add a little dose of serendipity to her summer because, she says, "When you are an adult, every day in summer is the same as every other day but hotter."
The biggest surprise about this whole project? Kleiman doesn't own a traditional oven. At her restaurant, Kleiman has professional gear, but at home she cooks out of this small countertop oven. When her double ovens fell out of the wall in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, she never got around to replacing them. She makes do with the countertop oven and hopes that one day a TV makeover show will help out the chef with no kitchen.
You can see all the pies Kleiman has completed here.
From all of us here at Serious Eats Headquarters, we say: Good luck and happy baking!