Cathy Barrow is the author of the new book When Pies Fly. She also has written Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry and Pie Squared, and she writes a column for The Washington Post's food section. She lives in Frederick, Maryland.
Q: You write, “My view of pie became universal for anything wrapped up in pastry.” What exactly is a flying pie?
A: For Pie Squared, my slab pie book, I made about 200 pies while testing and creating recipes. There were always bits of dough and leftover fillings in my refrigerator and that led to making little hand-formed pastries to use up what was there.
The more I dug into pastries from around the world, the more I came to understand these pastries as a way for a little bit of food to serve and feed more people, simply by wrapping dough around something delicious.
I came up with the idea of a flying pie, one that requires no specific pan, and also, because there are so many international flavors, ones that fly around the world.
Q: The recipes in this book span a variety of cultures. What were some of the favorites you discovered while working on this book?
A: That has to be the Kalbi short rib hand pie. I had only had these wonderful tangy, spicy, sweet, sticky ribs once but I became obsessed with the idea of wrapping that flavor up in pastry. When I discovered how easy it was to make them, I was delighted!
I think many of the fillings come from delicious leftovers, so readers can consider trying the fillings on their own, before encasing them in delicious pastry.
Q: What would you advise a novice pie-maker to do when creating their first flying pie?
A: Make a galette - just the friendliest, most forgiving form of flying pies. And if that novice fears dough, use a grocery store pie dough. I'm not here to shame anyone. I just want everyone to make pie.
Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?
A: Working with all these different doughs and forms is fun and engaging. There's no reason to fear pastry. Pie making is a skill, not a talent, and with practice anyone can do it.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I have a proposal I'm working on, but I am not ready to talk about it. We've been renovating a sweet little house in Frederick, Maryland, since the spring and just moved in, so mostly I'm opening boxes and putting things away. I can't wait to get back into my kitchen.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Make a pie! And then share it with people you love.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Cathy Barrow.