The Harvest Baker – Ken Haedrich

The Harvest Baker: 150 Sweet & Savory Recipes Celebrating the Fresh-Picked Flavors of Fruits, Herbs & Vegetables by Ken Haedrich serves up 150 delicious baked goods that are full of fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs and go far beyond the typical fare of zucchini muffins or banana bread.

Ken is the Dean of The Pie Academy, an online community for pie bakers that he started in 2012. He is one of our foremost baking authorities who has written quite the assortment of cookbooks, many of which I have in my collection. 

The Harvest Baker begins with background on the basics, tools and some personal history before Ken’s innovative recipes start. When savory ingredients are married with sweet baking, I am all over that. The author is the master of that flavor combination with Chocolate Sandwich Cookies with Sweet Herb Mascarpone, Rosemary Lemon Shortbread, Cabbage and Sausage Shortbread, Oat and Cornmeal Pie Dough and so many more.

The recipes I mentioned above are marked to make along with the Shaker Fresh Herb Bread with Walnuts, Potato-Stuffed Indian Flatbread, Savory Shortbread Thumbprints with Tomato Jam and Everything Biscuits. To be honest, I want to bake everything in this book and am so looking forward to cooler temperatures so that I can give my oven a workout.  I do bake a bit in the sultry temps of July and August and the Ricotta Pound Cake with Pears, Walnuts and Sage is begging to be made for dessert. In August, we will be baking through this book in The Cookbook Junkies Cookbook Club. 

Special thanks to Storey Publishing and the author for sharing this delicious slab pie to make use of our tomato crops. The pie is also featured in a book trailer that Ken made, and it looks delicious. Be sure to head over to our contest page to enter our giveaway for a chance to win one of three copies of this beautiful book – along with one grand prize winner also winning a set of the Williams Sonoma Gold-Touch Baking Set that Ken recommends. 



Tomato Slab Pie

A slab pie, be it savory or sweet, refers to any pie that’s baked in a jelly roll pan instead of a round pan. There are advantages to this architectural arrangement, perhaps the most important being that for roughly the same amount of effort, you end up with an attractive dish that serves 12 to 15 people instead of the usual 8 to 10. So slab pies are a natural for large summer gatherings. This all-tomato version, finished with a dusting of snipped chives and garlic, is as good as you’ll encounter. The tomatoes are enhanced by a generous coat of Dijon mustard on the crust, while the cream and cheese turn the tomatoes into something like a tomato gratin.

Makes 12 to 15 servings

Slab Pie Dough (and Shell)

4 large tomatoes, cored and halved
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 1/2 cups grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1/3 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2-3 tablespoons chopped chives
2 garlic cloves, minced

1 Prepare the slab pie shell; refrigerate. You may also freeze it if you want to make it several days ahead. (Cover it with plastic wrap, and overwrap with foil before freezing.)

2 Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) when you’re ready to start assembling the pie. Put one rack in the bottom of your oven, and position another in the middle. Using your finger, push most of the seeds out of each tomato half, but not all of them; you want the tomatoes to be a little juicy. Cut the tomatoes into 1/8-inch-thick slices.

3 Spoon the mustard into the pie shell. Using the back of the spoon, smear it over the entire bottom. Scatter half of the cheddar evenly over the shell.

4 Make two or three lengthwise rows of tomato slices in the shell. If your tomatoes are quite large, you’ll only have room for two rows. Overlap them by quite a bit, so they form a thick tomato layer. Dice some of the extra slices, and fill in any gaps between or outside the rows with these smaller chunks.

5 Drizzle the heavy cream here and there over the tomatoes. Salt and pepper them liberally. Mix the Parmesan with the remaining cheddar in a small bowl, and scatter the cheese over the top of the pie. Sprinkle on the chives and minced garlic.

6 Bake the pie on the lower rack for 20 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 375°F (190°C), move the pie to the middle rack, and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes, until quite bubbly and a deep golden brown. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and cool for at least 20 to 30 minutes before slicing. If at any point in the baking you notice that the crust is puffing up a bit in a certain area, take a long skewer and poke through the filling and pastry. The bubble will immediately collapse. Refrigerate leftovers. Reheat, loosely covered with foil, in a 300°F (150°C) oven for 10 to 15 minutes.


Slab pies, which can be sweet or savory, have caught on in popularity over the last few years. I don’t know who first coined the term slab pie, but it’s a fitting description for a pie that looks more like a board or plank and less like your basic wheel. If there’s a bit of a challenge to assembling a slab pie, it’s getting the oversized dough rolled out and into the pan without incident. If you prefer, this can be done in two stages by halving the dough and rolling the pieces separately (see Tip #1). It’s important to use the right jelly roll pan here, one that’s 15 by 10 inches and 1 inch high. Unless the sides are a full 1 inch, your fillings are likely to spill over the sides.


Butter for the pan
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar (for sweet pies) or 2 tablespoons cornstarch (for savory pies)
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2-2/3 cup cold water

1 Combine the flour, confectioners’ sugar (or cornstarch), and salt in a mixing bowl. Whisk briefly to combine, then refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes. Put the butter cubes on a plate, and refrigerate along with the flour mixture. Butter a 15- by 10- by 1-inch jelly roll pan very lightly with soft butter. If it is a nonstick pan, no buttering is necessary.

2 When you’re ready to mix the dough, transfer the dry ingredients to a food processor; pulse several times to mix. Remove the lid and scatter all the butter over the dry ingredients. Pulse the machine 10 to 12 times, until the butter is broken into split pea-size pieces.

3 Add half of the water through the feed tube in an approximate 5-second stream, pulsing the machine repeatedly as you pour. Stop the machine, remove the lid, and fluff the mixture with a fork, pulling it up from the bottom. This loosens the mixture; the machine tends to compact it. Replace the lid, and add most of the remaining liquid in the same manner, pulsing as you add it. When you still have a couple of tablespoons of water left, remove the lid and check the dough; it should hold together easily when you press it between your fingers. If it’s still quite crumbly, add the remaining water and pulse a few more times. By now the dough should be coming together in good-size clumps.

4 Dump the mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface. Shape and compact the dough into a rectangle roughly 1 1/4 inches thick. Tear off a sheet of plastic wrap about 24 inches long. Flour it lightly, and put the dough in the center of it. Dust the top of the dough with flour, and gently – because the dough will be soft – roll it out a little bit to increase the size of the rectangle. It should still be pretty thick, perhaps 3/4 inch. This is simply a preliminary rolling/shaping to take the dough a step in the right direction. Square up the sides and corners as best you can to make it easier to roll out a rectangle later. Wrap the dough up in the plastic, slide it onto a small baking sheet, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Longer is fine.

5 When you’re ready to roll the dough, unwrap it and dust the top lightly with flour. Invert the dough onto a 24-inch-long sheet of waxed paper; you could also use a fresh piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper if you prefer. Roll out the dough into an 18- by 13-inch rectangle. Invert it into the pan, or slide it in. Center it, and tuck the dough into the pan so it fits like a glove. If you have excess dough hanging over, fold it and press it against the sides to beef up the edge of the pastry. Refrigerate the shell for at least 1 hour, or freeze for 30 minutes, before filling and baking. Keep it cold until right before filling. To make a double crust for a 9- to 9.-inch deep-dish pie: Do not prepare the jelly roll pan. Chill the ingredients as described in step 1, then follow the recipe through step 3. Empty the dough mixture onto your work counter and shape into two thick disks, one of them – for the bottom crust – slightly larger than the other. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 1/2 to 2 hours before rolling.  

To make the dough by hand:If you would rather make the dough by hand, proceed as above, but refrigerate the flour mixture and butter for only 15 minutes. Add the butter to the dry ingredients. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until it is broken into split pea-size pieces. Sprinkle in half of the water and lightly mix it in with a fork. Repeat, adding another 2 tablespoons of water. Add the remaining water, about 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed, mixing the dough until it forms crumbs that just hold together when pressed between your fingers. Shape, refrigerate, and roll as above. 

TIP #1: If you’d rather not work with such a big piece of dough all at once, divide the dough in half and shape each half into a thick rectangle. Using the same approach as in step 4, lightly roll the dough into two thick rectangles. Wrap, and refrigerate them for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Roll each one into an 11- by 8 1/2-inch rectangle. Place them in the pan so that they overlap in the middle; press to seal, and proceed as above.

TIP #2: For slightly easier rolling, and a more tender dough, substitute 4 tablespoons cold Crisco for the 1/2 stick of butter. Use spoonful-size pieces and add them to the processor along with the butter. 

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  • sgump  on  July 6, 2017

    My favorite baked recipe that incorporates fruit or vegetables would likely be a pizza with fresh tomato sauce and seasonal vegetables, fruit, fungi, and herbs (onions, eggplants, zucchini, pineapple, mushrooms, basil, oregano) . . . I get hungry just thinking about it!

  • lgroom  on  July 6, 2017

    I have made quiche or frittata with almost every vegetable I can think of. Great for using up dribs and drabs of veggies.

  • lebarron2001  on  July 6, 2017

    Blackberry Cobbler followed closely by Apple Pie

  • radhablack  on  July 6, 2017

    The Oatmeal chocolate chip pumpkin cookies and Winter squash pizza with baby kale sound fantastic.

  • jr0717  on  July 6, 2017

    I love a great zucchini or pumpkin loaf, and would love to try the varieties in Ken's book!

  • kgmom  on  July 7, 2017

    I would love to try the strawberry rhubarb muffin recipe! Sounds great.

  • Alleycat  on  July 7, 2017

    We love roasted veggie pizza. My favorite baked goods (after pizza) are banana chocolate chip muffins and pumpkin bread.

  • nadiam1000  on  July 8, 2017

    I love banana bread and am always trying out new versions

  • Gneissspice  on  July 8, 2017

    Boring old blueberry muffins. But, I did just try a great recipe from Green Kitchen at Home cookbook for Turmeric Blueberry Muffins!

  • slcrose  on  July 8, 2017

    Love a great tomato pie

  • annieski  on  July 9, 2017

    We love a good tomato pie!

  • Katiefayhutson  on  July 9, 2017

    Pumpkin pancakes and waffles.

  • kpoole  on  July 9, 2017

    I have a healthy rosemary plant! Love to try Rosemary lemon shortbread cookies

  • matag  on  July 10, 2017

    Love savory pies

  • klrclark  on  July 10, 2017

    Roasted beet, spinach, and feta cheese flatbread. Three of my favorite ingredients

  • lhudson  on  July 11, 2017

    Spaghetti Squash and Parmesan Cheese Quiche

  • Siegal  on  July 11, 2017

    I love vegetable quiches!!

  • jessbern  on  July 11, 2017

    I love spinach and feta quiche!

  • orchidlady01  on  July 12, 2017

    Chicken pot pie is my favorite baked recipe with vegetables.

  • stevenpeters  on  July 12, 2017

    I'd make the vegetable and beef hand pies.

  • FireRunner2379  on  July 13, 2017

    I love a deep dish stuffed pizza using vegetables from my garden.

  • matag  on  July 13, 2017

    I love a savory pie

  • hibeez  on  July 13, 2017

    there are way too many choices, but i'm intrigued by strawberry rhubarb muffins! both are in season, and given the moisture in both, I'm really curious how this would work out!

  • PennyG  on  July 15, 2017

    Beef and Eggplant Gratin from Bake Until Bubbly!

  • abihamm  on  July 15, 2017

    I make pies almost every day so finding a new way to use fruit in a pie…well I am a happy girl. Yesterday I made a Fresh Raspberry Ganache pie.

  • RSW  on  July 16, 2017

    Ricotta, lemon, and blackberry muffins

  • rchesser  on  July 18, 2017

    Blueberry pie.

  • JenJoLa  on  July 19, 2017

    My favorite baked dish incorporating fruits or vegetables is black raspberry cobbler.

  • KarenDel  on  July 20, 2017

    I like a great apple pie

  • Jasamuel33  on  July 20, 2017

    My favorite fruit recipe is a buttermilk raspberry snack cake with cream filling.

  • Mimmi  on  July 22, 2017

    I like recipes with an unexpected ingredient like sweet potato soda bread.

  • amandacooks  on  July 22, 2017

    It is really difficult to choose a favorite baked recipe that incorporates fruit or vegetables. Probably almond cake with blueberries, raspberries or blackberries. Or zucchini cake with lemon glaze…peach cobbler…banana bread…carrot cake…cherry clafoutis…the list goes on and on…

  • notstarvingyet  on  July 26, 2017

    Strawberry rhubarb muffins!

  • Nancith  on  July 26, 2017

    We really enjoy a vegetable pie.

  • kitchenclimbers  on  July 27, 2017


  • Sofie168  on  July 27, 2017

    Savory breads

  • LaurenE  on  July 28, 2017

    blueberry scones with Meyer lemon zest

  • ktwalla  on  August 3, 2017

    I love yellow cake with any type of fruit layered into it.

  • Teruska  on  August 6, 2017

    Scones. But, I look forward to this Tomato Slab Pie since it is tomato season!

  • paulabee  on  August 8, 2017

    tomato and mozzarella tart!

  • lcomer  on  August 8, 2017

    Morning glory muffins. Yum! THis book looks amazing. I want to make everything it. Come on fall, momma is ready to put that oven to work again!

  • love2chow  on  August 9, 2017

    Tough decisions. There are so many things that look great. Whole-wheat blueberry beet muffins – because it is unusual to have whole wheat goods. Bacon, cheddar, and fresh corn muffins. Roasted bell pepper buttermilk cornbread , Mushroom, spinach, and blue cheese-stuffed baguette

  • love2chow  on  August 9, 2017

    My favorite baked recipe that incorporates fruit or vegetables — lemon rosemary zucchini bread.

  • Nasus  on  August 9, 2017

    Stuffed spinach and feta cheese scones sound delicious

  • jthelwell  on  August 9, 2017

    I make spanakopita – Greek spinach and feta pie wrapped in phyllo dough.

  • Maaseelulu  on  August 9, 2017

    I only discovered rhubarb this past spring, so as of right now, I'm very stuck on rhubarb pie. The flavors are so subtle but flavorful, I just can't get over that!

  • cookooducky  on  August 10, 2017

    Cobber, please. We have wild blackberries in our local park, free for the picking. Would love to combine them with peaches, rhubarb (and how 'bout a scoop of vanilla ice cream?)

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