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Books for Cooks

We recommend: “Pie School: Lessons in Fruit, Flour, and Butter” by Kate Lebo (Sasquatch Books, $24.95)

What’s special: Serious pie-making instruction delivered with charm from Pacific Northwesterner Kate Lebo, who once judged the Iowa State Fair Pie Contest.

Pie-making can be daunting, but Lebo makes it fun. She opened her “roving pastry academy” in 2012 after earning her MFA from the UW, a combination that makes this lovely book both entertaining and educational. She offers enough crust variations for everyone, including one that won Best in Show, as well as a gluten-free recipe. Fillings range from a super-simple Apple Pie to creative and inspiring creations such as a Blueberry Lemon Verbena Galette and a Three Pear and Gouda Pie. She also offers a handful of chiffon pies and winter pies for when fresh fruit is hard to come by, such as Coconut Chess and Whiskey Maple Pecan. There are certainly bigger books on pie, but Lebo’s attention to detail and lighthearted delivery make this one a pleasure.

Plum Thyme Pie

½ recipe any double-crust pie dough

5 cups Italian prune plums halved lengthwise and pitted

½ cup honey

Juice of ½ medium lemon (about 1½ tablespoons)

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Pinch of salt

2 tablespoons flour

1. Roll out the crust and place it in a 9- to 9½-inch plate. Tuck the crust into the plate, trim the edges, and fold them into a ridge. Refrigerate.

2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

3. In a large bowl combine the plums with the honey, lemon juice, thyme, butter, and salt. Taste and adjust the flavors as needed. Gently stir in the flour and set the filling aside.

4. Retrieve the bottom crust from the refrigerator. Arrange the plums inside the dough in concentric circles, starting at the edge and working your way in. Pour the remaining liquid, if there is any, over the top.

5. Bake the pie in the middle of the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the crust is blistered and blond. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and bake for 40 to 50 minutes more, until the crust is golden and the juices bubble slowly at the pie’s edge.

6. Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour.

Leora Y. Bloom, Special to The Seattle Times