Crisp over pie, Bittman? I don’t think so!

I enjoy reading Mark Bittman’s column in the NY Times, and I’ve learned a lot from Bittman, but he disses pie in favor of crisp in his most recent column, saying “It’s that pie crust adds little to a fruit dessert apart from heft and calories.”  WRONG!

First, don’t you know how to make a good crust yet?  A good pie crust sets the stage and allows the fruit to shine with a beautiful and delicious vehicle to carry it from plate to mouth.  Second, all that cinnamon, and oats and nuts in a crisp distracts from the fruit, the supposed star.  No star likes to be upstaged, especially by some nut.

And by the way, Bittman, cornstarch is a bad choice to thicken fruit desserts (or much of anything in my opinion).  First of all, it is too gloppy when it does thicken, (recalling the horrors of cafeteria desserts) and it doesn’t consistently thicken due to the varying acidity in fruit.  Tapioca is a much better choice, and flour is terrific in some pies, such as apple.  Harumphh.

Show me a streusel-topped crisp that is as mouth-wateringly appealing as any of these pies, and I’ll reconsider my stance.

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15 Responses to “Crisp over pie, Bittman? I don’t think so!”

  1. Emily Says:

    I prefer pie too. I think too many people are afraid of making the dough, which is probably why Bittman leans toward the other desserts. But pie crust is one of our family traditions, and pie remains my favorite desserts. It’s almost time for apple pie!

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I’m a Mark Bittman fan, but I’m with you all the way, Ali! And what beautiful pies you make!

    Speaking of crisps…I have a recipe from an old New York Times Cookbook, and the topping is butter, flour, sugar, and nothing else. It really is a good crisp. Far superior to the ones that use oats and cinnamon.

  3. Laurie Graves Says:

    Hi, Ali–

    I wrote the Anonymous post, not realizing I need to fill in my name again.


  4. Julie Says:

    Pies, who does not love a good pie. Now making them is another story. The art of perfecting one’s crust can be tedious and time consuming. I mean it has only taken me 25 years to do so. BTW Ali, your pies are certainly a work of art! Smiles, Julie.

  5. O. Says:

    Pie. I want one. Now. (What else is new?)

  6. shaheen Says:

    I want one too, so homely and comforting – one to share!

  7. Kate@LivingTheFrugalLife Says:

    I wouldn’t go so far as to dis pie, but I will admit that I favor crisp over pie most of the time. Largely because I can have crisp at the drop of a hat, and on any amount of fruit that I happen to have around. I mix up large quantities of crisp topping and keep it in a jar in the fridge. So putting a crisp on the table takes basically no time at all. Pies are more of a winter/holiday thing for me. Perhaps because I have more leisure in winter than the other seasons. I suppose if I were really wedded to pies then I would keep frozen (homemade) pie crust around. I do that occasionally, but it still needs to thaw before I can use it. Delayed gratification is a difficult thing sometimes.

  8. Lisa and Robb Says:

    But making pie is so EASY !!!

    What’s that expression? Easy as … ???

  9. Teresa Noelle Roberts Says:

    Pie and crisp can both be delicious, and both have their place. A simple crisp topping without too many geegaws accents the fruit rather than detracting. It’s also dead easy, which I appreciate as a busy commuter who sometimes wants a homemade dessert on a week night.

    Pie is divine, but only if you use a proper, buttery, homemade crust and not one of those premade excuses for a crust. Making a decent pie crust isn’t hard, but it takes time. A a weekend project–at least if you’re out of the house for 11.5 hours a day on weekdays, like I am.

  10. Teresa Noelle Roberts Says:

    Now I want to make a crisp or a pie tonight!

  11. nruit Says:

    Love them both! I have no trouble making the pie crust, it’s knowing how to get the right stuff in with the fruit that’s the tricky part for me…

  12. Rick Says:

    I’ll eat about anything sweet and fruit filled, but there is nothing in the world that can beat a slice of my wife’s hot apple pie with ice cream!! Second only to the apple pie is her strawberry cream cheese pie!!

  13. Robin Says:

    Your pies are absolutely beautiful. Just looking at them is making me hungry. :)

  14. jeannie Says:

    You tell him Ali!

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