Allison Kave, a truly creative baker and expert on all things pie related, credits her mother with her passion for food. Her mom, Rhonda Kave, is owner of Roni-Sue’s Chocolate in New York’s Essex Street Market. Growing up, Rhonda had a rather unexciting childhood filled with canned and boiled vegetables and she wanted more nutrition and excitement for her own children. Research into various cuisines led to a love of chocolate, which inspired her very own confectionery shop. All of this unbridled love of food couldn’t help but inspire Allison and her brother, Corwin, a renowned executive chef in New York City.
Like some of us, Allison did not find her calling immediately. Her route to the culinary life modeled the circuitous path her mother took. Eventually, her boyfriend encouraged her to enter the First Annual Brooklyn Pie Bake-Off – and she walked away with the award for Best Overall Pie. So, she asked: Why not make pies? In fact, Allison recently partnered with fellow baker Keavy Blueher, and together they are opening Brooklyn’s first dessert and craft cocktail bar, Butter & Scotch.
Allison’s cookbook, First Prize Pies: Shoo-Fly, Candy Apple & Other Deliciously Inventive Pies For Every Week of the Year (and More), holds some of the most creative pie recipes I’ve ever read. She insists that quality ingredients matter and I couldn’t agree more.
She thoroughly discusses the most important element of any pie: the crust. There are three chapters that delve into dough-based crusts, crumb crusts, and crumble-style bases. There are even options available for gluten-intolerant and vegan bakers.
The cookbook is organized into chapters by month, with each month focusing of seasonally appropriate flavors. There are tons of recipes to choose from; some are traditional (like Strawberry Rhubarb or Shoo-Fly Pie) and others are so inventive that I cannot wait to try my hand at them: Avocado Cream Pie, Perfect Manhattan Pie (after the cocktail), Root Beer Float Pie, and the list goes on and on.
You may have noticed by now that we at Alabama Chanin take our pies quite seriously. My Gram Perkins’ Chocolate Pie is a family favorite that someone makes for almost every holiday gathering. And all of us at The Factory have taken turns flipping through A Year of Pies, which continues to inspire an ongoing cake vs. pie debate. For the entire month of April, we stuffed ourselves – perhaps too often – with Blackberry Farm’s Green Tomato Pie. The addition of First Prize Pies to our bookshelves will, no doubt, encourage the pie love to continue all year long.