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on May 13, 2003
One hates to throw stones at something that will become beloved by many people, but this is one of those cases. The author has spent a lot of time (years in fact) testing and developing recipes for this book. All of the results are contained in this baking cookbook, in glorious and extensive detail. There is so much information, in fact, that it is difficult even for the experienced baker to wade through so much information and detail. It contains everything you could possibly want to know, and a whole lot more.
If you like the Cake Bible, you will love this one about pies and pastries. It is just as complete and thorough. If you a serious home baker, you will find this cookbook indispensable. If you are a professional baker, it is an excellent resource; for example, she describes half a dozen very saleable Danish pastries from the same dough. For the rest of us, however, I must cast a disapproving eye. I doubt that the average home cook will be able to successfully pick his/her way through the material in this cookbook.
Like its predecessor (for which, see) on cakes, it is extremely finicky. It contains an astonishing 75 pages just on pie and tart crusts. The procedures for the former involve an unusual process that makes the dough in a zip lock plastic bag. The recipes are so long and complete, that it is easy to get lost while following the recipes, since this involves quite a bit of jumping around in the text. Also, the layout of the ingredient table is not always clear: some recipes have multiple components, and the division between them in the ingredients' table is not always clear just by looking at them (often, you have to read the recipes to see where the divisions are). The pictures have page numbers for the matching recipes, but the recipes do not have page numbers for the matching pictures.
It does have some nice touches. The ingredient lists both volume and weight, leaving not doubt as to the correct amounts. There is a brief but enlightening exposition on the similarities of puff pastry, croissant, Danish, brioche, strudel, and fillo. The chapter on Equipment has many useful tools and insights not found elsewhere.
On the down side, there are a few editing mistakes: on page 204 there is a reference to page 627 (the correct page is 672), the Creamy and Spicy Crab Tartlets does not list a substitute for tobanjan, the ancho chile powder for Baked Empanadas can be bought premade, the directions for roasting bell peppers for Roasted Red Pepper and Poblano Quiche could be better, Love for Three Oranges says not to use Seville orange zest but a subsidiary recipe she calls for this exact ingredient, the instructions for slicing salmon for Coulibiac needs a diagram, the duxelle mixture for Beef Wellington probably does not require the listed 60 minutes, a proof box for Whole Wheat Croissants can be made easier by simply inverting a large cardboard box over the dough, and the chapter on Ingredients needs to be re-edited and re-organized with more titles (for example, vanilla is in the Thickeners section, but does not appear in the index, gold leaf appears under the Gelatin section and is not listed in the index either). Also, a more detailed Table of Contents would make this book a much more valuable reference. For these reasons, I recommend waiting for a second edition of this book that (hopefully) will have these mistakes corrected.
Like the real Bible, it contains a mountain of information of which only a tiny portion will ever be used, but will be used extensively. If you are developing recipes for publication, or one of those people who supplies all of the pies to the county fair, then this book is for you: an extensive and reliable manual for the assembly line production of baked goods. For the average home cook, I suspect that this book is a little too much. It is, however, a welcome reference to the troublesome task of baking and pastries. They say that one can never have too much information, but in this case, I am not so sure. On the other hand, your chances of success following these recipes are very high.
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on May 20, 2004
This is a cookbook for the perfectionist. If you like to understand exactly why things work the way they do so that you can be in control of your baking projects, then this is the book for you. If you get excited at the thought of being empowered to create pastries more delectable than the very best you have ever tasted at the finest gourmet pastry shoppes, then you owe it to yourself to get this book.
If you'd rather not be bothered with too many niggling details and just want something quick that reliably comes out OK, even if you use the wrong type of flour, then stick with the Fannie Farmer Cookbook.
Be warned. These recipes generally don't have much margin for sloppiness built into them, the way ones from other cookbooks do. That's why they taste so good when they are done correctly. You should read all of the background information on a topic before you start baking. Rose's backgrounders are interesting, helpful, well-written and will make you a better baker. At the absolute minimum, you must follow the recipes to the letter. No substitutions or shortcuts whatsoever can be allowed unless you've read all the background information so that you know *exactly* what you are doing.
I can see only two legitimate grievances. The structure of the book is sometimes a bit scattered, which often makes it necessary to flip through to a half-dozen different places to get through a single project, and, (although this is not a concern for me) Rose makes no mention that I can see of what sort of adjustments one might make to achieve perfection at 9000 feet above sea level, and I could see how someone up in the Rockies might run into some difficulties.
I can only think of one other "downside": Your own baking will spoil you for anything else.
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on June 26, 2016
Great recipes but instructions not always clear - strudel dough requires guessing re size & technique. Apple pie is vinegary so not liked by my family but blueberry was a hit. Crust recipes make the book worthwhile. I have many of Rose's books - this one is the first to disappoint on any level.
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on October 12, 2003
First of all, this is NOT a book for those wanting to make something up quick. If you want a quick and easy dessert, go somewhere else. If you enjoy the process of baking and (even more so) the pleasure of eating homemade goods, this book is for you.
The piecrusts (as other reviewers have noted) are not the easiest. But, they do come out very well. It is possible to use the freezer bags as noted (only one is necessary per piecrust recipe). On the crusts, I recommend using the food processor method. Also, I noticed that it takes a lot less time to bake the crusts than the time recommended in the book. I have never had them become soggy either. Brushing on the egg white after you bake them helps to prevent that.
As for the time-consuming quality of the recipes, be prepared to spend a long time on any one of these. On the Strawberry Lover's Chiffon Pie (my first pie ever to bake and the first from this book), I spent around 9 hours over a two-day period. I just made the Apple Crumb Pie, and it took probably five hours though a lot of that was dead time (i.e., baking or chilling times when I could be doing something else). Before making any of these recipes, carefully read the instructions to get an idea of how long they take.
And, the photography is excellent. It makes you want to make every single one in the book. The Pumpkin Pie and Honeycomb Chiffon Pie are coming up next (that is, after some recipes in her Cake Bible).

The recipes are meticulously detailed. If you follow them EXACTLY, you should get good results. If you take shortcuts or decide that something isn't necessary, you'll get less than perfect results.
The recipes range from traditional favorites like cherry and apple pies to more exotic pies (like the Honeycomb Chiffon pie and Tiramisu). Recipes for savory pies (like Shepherd's Pie and Chicken Pot Pie) are also included.
This is my second favorite cookbook after Rose's The Cake Bible.
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on October 6, 2003
I discovered RLB when I decided to make my own wedding cake. After finding The Cake Bible, I never looked back. My guests still tell me it was the best wedding cake they ever tasted.
While chatting online one day, I admitted that I wasn't very good with pastry. Someone teased me about it; I got ticked off and decided to make myself a pastry expert. Whom else would I turn to but Rose?
Thanks to this book, my pies and pastries are flawless now. And do try making your own strudel using Rose's instructions; thanks to her detailed instructions, it's easier than you'd think. Once you've mastered it, your friends will love you and your enemies will fear you.
To echo other reviewers, this is not a book for those who want something quick and easy, but for the cook who wants to know how and why things work. If you're willing to put in the time and effort, you will be rewarded with superior results.
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on January 10, 2003
The recipes are delicious, and directions are thorough, as other readers have noted. I have owned this book for several years, and have one complaint. No recipe is all on one page or even consecutive pages. Once you find what you want to make, you have to flip back to the pastry part of the recipe. Then you have to find the cooking directions for the pastry. Then you flip back to the item you want to bake. Sometimes, in the course of that recipe, it says to use a particular technique and refers to another page. I made a pecan tart with wonderful results (and many compliments), but had to find information in no fewer than four different parts of the book to accomplish this. This book is only for people who are very good readers who follow directions well and are not easily discouraged.
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on August 6, 2003
I have used Beranbaum's "The Cake Bible" for several years and once I got used to the lay-out [intimidating to begin with] found it really good for special occasion cakes. So I decided to splurge on "The Pie And Pastry Bible." First off, the reviewer who had trouble with the zip-lock bag technique is not alone: nobody can afford that many bags, and nobody can make ANYTHING decent in the kitchen at that level of frustration. I found the famous cream cheese crust came out dense and a bit soggy with fruit fillings, though it does work really well with Kulibiac [Coulibiac]. Mostly, though, I don't think Beranbaum's methods function as well in this book as they did in "TCB" - a birthday cake is an occasion in itself - I'll allow two days to make one. Apple Pie or any fruit pie is what I make for dessert while the roast is roasting or the stew is stewing. I don't want to spend half the afternoon whipping from one section to another under those circumstances. So for piecrusts I'll stick to Jacques Pepin, or Cooks' Illustrated.
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on August 31, 2002
I can always rely on Rose! I have read the book and made many of the recipes. The cream cheese crust is the best--tender and flaky. My husband doesn't like blueberry pie, but he thinks the open-face blueberry pie is outstanding: it combines both cooked and fresh blueberries. The double strawberry pie with a layer of cream cheese mixture is also A. Passion fruit ice cream is incredible, but you must get the puree from the sources section. However, I wasn't thrilled with the crumble topping she suggests as an alternative to a top crust. And, as with all fruit pies, they're only as good as the fruit you put in them. She recommends the Lindt Excellence bittersweet chocolate for various recipes (peanut butter tart, brownie puddle) but I find that Americans seem to like a milder chocolate flavor. Lindt is great, but I wouldn't use the super bittersweet chocolates. If you want rave reviews, and you can spend 2 days on a pie, this is the book for you! Next I'm trying Concord Grape Pie with Peanut Butter ice cream!
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on May 13, 2002
I'm an average cook who likes to make fancy desserts. When I opened this book I was incredibly overwhelmed. For one thing, the layout isn't anything to cheer about... I think that it is very poorly organized. As far as the actual recipes go, the instructions are very precise, much more so than other cookbooks I've used. On the other hand, it has some qualities that make it one of the best cookbooks I've ever used. She explains a little about each recipe (the history of that particular dish, etc.) and I really like that. I also learned more about pastry in about 10 minutes with this book than I've learned from all of my other cookbooks put together. I made an excellent pie crust following the instructions, my best ever. It has a wealth of information and I can tell that I will use it as a reference book often. If you want to whip out some tasty pies in an hour or two, skip this one. If you have the time and patience and want high-quality pies and pastries, then you will want this book in your collection.
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on March 30, 2002
I bought this book because it was referred as being a breat book on pies - I needed to make a great chocholate torte. But, the book does not have a chocholate torte so having the book, I tried other recipes like the Apple Pie and the "Grand Canyon Pie". I made several mistakes and as a software engineer who is quite capable of following instructions, I found this a miserable book for instruction but a great book in terms of a glossary. There are not enough pictures in the book - I like to see what the author is trying to convey - take the "Grand Canyon" for example - wouldn't this be a great pie to have a picture of ? No, the author does not describe or show how it all comes together - even though its probably a great looking pie.
If you like chocolate, or lots of pics, skip this book. I agree with other reviewers on less than positive reviews. If I had as much talent as the author, I would have done much better on the book - for example, tell the reader what is needed before starting and show details (drawings if you don't have a digital camera) of what you are trying to convey - pie and pastry making is 95% visual and the author does not go into great detail here. She falls (no pun) where ALL authors of baking fall (because they are not great writers I guess) - in that they don't put themselves in the readers shoes, i.e. "I never made this before - so I hope to see an example" shoes of the reader and assume that we know what comes next. I expected a book I guess as a bible (as other bibles demonstrate) to show me everything about pies I buy in fancy restaurants but I did not find this to be the case. Not even a receipe on a chocolate rasbery torte, shame on the Author.
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