From the start Sister Pie: The Recipes & Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit by Lisa Ludwinski beckons you on with scrumptious photos and intriguing recipe combinations. Then reality sets in: Do you really want to make peanut butter cookies with smoked paprika – or are you going to end up throwing out the dough? Savory shortbread cookies with olives and juniper berries – what would that even taste like?
Tantalized by the cookbook, my friend Carole, the adventurous cook, decided to test a recipe out. Which led to another and then another. After trying eight recipes (and counting), the verdict? The Sister Pie cookbook recipes are absolutely delicious!
How Sister Pie Began
Michigan native Ludwinski became “distracted by food”, as she puts it, while living in New York City. There she worked at Christina Tosi’s Momofuku Milk Bar – a bakery famed for its playful tasty treats such cereal milk soft serve and compost cookies. Ludwinski eventually moved back to Michigan where she opened Sister Pie in Detroit, focusing on offering tasty “inventive” food and working with local farmers to offer foods reflecting the seasons.
The cookbook features 75 of the Detroit bakery’s most popular recipes including Salted Maple Pie, Robert Redford Cookies, Honey Lemon Meringue Pie, Sweet Potato Streusel Muffins, and Toasted Marshmallow Butterscotch Pie. Sister Pie also serves breakfast and lunch, and the cookbook presents recipes for some of the bakery’s savory offerings such as Tomato, Olive, and Mozzarella Hand Pies; Egg-on-Top Sweet Potato and Cheddar Gallettes; and Two-Way Cauliflower and Bulgar Salad.
I have to admit that my two of my favorite Sister Pie recipes were ones that I wrinkled my nose up at when I saw the ingredients. The Peanut Butter Paprika Cookies have a wonderful peanut butter cookie flavor and texture. You don’t taste the smoked paprika at all, but you keep wondering what is that hint of flavor that makes the cookies so tasty.
The Juniper Olive Shortbread was the biggest surprise of all. Sister Pie sells shortbread trios during the holidays and one year were “inspired by cocktails”. The Juniper Olive Shortbread is a homage to the gin martini – and my favorite Sister Pie recipe so far! The combination of olives and crushed juniper berries in a semi-sweet shortbread dough makes for a cookie that I’m still craving.
The gluten-free Buckwheat Chocolate Chip Cookies were a surprisingly yummy chocolate chip cookie while the Fresh Mint and Lime Shortbread cookies are sweet and buttery with a nice lime zest kick.
My least favorite offering is the Fennel Seed Snickerdoodles. In another cookbook this cookie might have been a star, but the Sister Pie cookbook sets the bar so high that the cookie falls to last place. The flavor was good – and not what you would necessarily call a traditional snickerdoodle. It seemed a cross between anise-flavored Italian cookies and Asian sesame seed cookies (due to the fennel seed and sesame seed in the dough). However, I found the cookie too sweet for my taste and would probably not put on as much sugar topping.
And Then There’s Pies!
Of course, the cookbook is called Sister Pie, and there’s numerous mouth-watering options along with well-written pictured instructions. Carole made the absolutely delicious Blue-Barb Blossom Pie. The pie combines rhubarb with blueberries in combination so winning I wondered why I never had thought of that blend. And the edible flowers make for a surprising splash of color.
Next up? Maybe another pie such as the Coffee Chess Pie or Cardamom Tahini Squash Pie. But what I’m really hoping to delve into making is some of the hand pies. In particular, I’ve been eyeballing the Caramelized Onion, Delicata Squash, and Sage Hand Pies.
No matter what recipe chosen, one thing’s for certain: With this cookbook’s spot-on recipe selections, the next one is sure to be another Sweet Pie tasting revelation.