Monday, February 22, 2021

Washington Pie


 From Atlas Obscura:

In 1895, Washington Pie was such a popular recipe that it was also a metaphor. Leading up to Independence Day festivities in Grand Rapids, Michigan, an article in The Michigan Tradesman used the dessert to explain a way to keep the town’s raucous paraders in line, suggesting that they make, “a sort of Washington Pie with that part of the procession—a layer, say, of traveling men and then a filling of Salvation Army jam, and so on, with the brass band by way of frosting.”

This article describes the most famous version of Washington Pie, which is actually a layer cake with a jam or jelly filling. According to culinary historian Patricia Reber, Washington Pie has been around since at least 1850, when a jelly-filled version made an appearance in Mrs. Putnam’s Receipt Book.

 Why call it a pie when it’s actually a cake? Blame the equipment: In the mid-19th century, home cooks often baked layer cakes in pie tins. As a result, many referred to cakes baked in pie tins as “pies.” At one point, Washington Pie was so popular that shallow, round baking pans were often referred to as “Washington Pie plates.” (Read more.)


Also from Atlas Obscura:

To believe the legends, Thomas Jefferson was as much a chef as a statesman, the architect of the modern American diet and the person behind such modern European-American classics as vanilla ice cream, steak and fries, and mac and cheese.

The truth is that Jefferson’s connection to the kitchen was decidedly hands-off. At Monticello, his vast Virginia plantation, the third president entered the room only to fix the clock. And while Jefferson did take an active interest in culinary matters, including importing vanilla with the specific intention of using it in ice cream, there’s little evidence that he was the first person to bring any of these recipes to the United States. Jefferson is certainly responsible for copious writings on food and cooking, including about 10 recipes that exist in his own handwriting, but it’s extremely unlikely that any of these were developed or even cooked by the man himself. (Read more.)


Pie Camp. From The Columbus Dispatch:

Kate McDermott learned to bake at her grandmother's elbow, watching "Geeg" as she mixed, whipped and rolled her famous lemon meringue pie. But it wasn't until 20 years ago that she was really bitten by the pie bug, falling down an experimental rabbit hole of "what makes a really good crust," sometimes making up to five iterations in a single day. All that experimentation led to 2016's "Art of the Pie," a guide that reminds bakers to, "Keep everything chilled. Especially yourself." In October, her second pie cookbook, titled "Pie Camp," will be released. McDermott says research for the book had her back in the kitchen, up to her elbows in dough and fillings, right back to that discovery phase, sometimes making five pies a day. (Read more.)


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