COOKBOOK REVIEW: A British lost art, revived

"The Pie Room" by Calum Franklin (Bloomsbury, $30)

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"The Pie Room" by Calum Franklin (Bloomsbury, $30)

“The Pie Room” by Calum Franklin (Bloomsbury, $30)

Calum Franklin describes himself as an obsessive doodler.

Inside a Victorian kitchen within a London five-star hotel, the chef channels that obsession into savory creations inspired by fine pastry work steeped in British history — from bite-size puff pastry baskets filled with deviled lamb kidney to chicken pies decorated with paisley patterns based on one served for the coronation of Elizabeth II.

In the introduction to “The Pie Room” (Bloomsbury, $30), Franklin tells how, soon after opening the Holborn Dining Room within the historic Rosewood Hotel in 2014, he stumbled upon an intricate antique pie tin. Intrigued, he took it to his kitchen staff to figure out how to use it. More experiments followed, leading him to sketch a vision for a separate kitchen devoted to resurrecting the lost art of British pies.

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That pencil illustration is included in these pages, along with the gorgeous photos of his dream realized. His instructions for recreating the Pie Room’s specialties at home are just as detailed. Most can be made using everyday equipment, though he suggests tools for pastry-cutting and latticework should you want to get fancy.

There are a handful of recipes for desserts (Apricot and Lemon Thyme Cobbler) and sides (Bubble and Squeak), but savory pies dominate. I started with one that may be the easiest in the book: Moroccan Chickpea and Feta Pie. It was a hit! Next up may be the Ultimate Fish Pie with a cheesy mashed potato topping ruffled decoratively with a fork.

I’m warmed up just thinking about serving a venison pie with marrow bones jutting dramatically out of a crispy suet crust on a wet, wintry evening. And while I can’t fathom attempting Stuffed Sea Bass en Croute covered in scales made of pastry or another over the top pie in the cookbook’s Grand Party Pieces chapter, I can definitely fantasize.

Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow her at

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