Cooking is fun and, for the most part, fairly easy if you have the right teacher. Taking a written recipe for anything even a little bit complicated can lead to some incorrect interpretations and a failed culinary endeavor.
Not long ago I did a roundup of cooking apps here and included Appetites as part of the group. I spent more time with Appetites and really learned some serious things from the step by step video delivery method of cooking a recipe. I can say it changed the way I cook. When I came upon the same developer’s Easy As Pie I knew I had to try it out. Off into the world of pie making.
I enjoy cooking, but have primarily stayed away from learning how to bake. I’m not entirely sure why. I enjoy a nice pastry as much as the next guy, but I think I’ve just had the mindset that I would probably keep off a few pounds if I didn’t know how to cook those things.
Then the Easy As Pie application came along to ruin my plan. I enjoyed and learned so much from Clear-Media’s Appetites application that I couldn’t resist exploring pie baking with their new application. I guess I’m down to mere self-control.
If you’ve never used or heard of Appetites let me give you a quick run-down on the application (we’ve also mentioned it many times here at iPad.Appstorm if you’d like further info).
It’s a cooking instructional application that uses video as the core medium. It’s a bit like watching a cooking television show except you have more control of the video. Each step is broken into a video. They are super high quality and repeat until you move to the next video step.
For a totally newbie (like I was) a written instruction to chop an onion wasn’t necessarily crystal clear. I could do it, but having a video display a professional cutting the onion was eye-opening to me. I thought I knew how to do it, but learned a couple little tricks that made a huge difference with such a small task. This is just one example of the the experience I’ve had with Appetites.
Now for Some Pie
Enough about the original Appetites application. Let’s talk about their new app called Easy As Pie.
As I hope you’ve guessed, this is also a cooking instructional application, but this time with the specific focus on pie. You might be thinking, "an entire application about cooking pie, is that really necessary?". Yes, yes it is.
Growing up my grandmother was a pie master (I’m sure I’m not alone here) and throughout the years I’ve seen multiple members of my family attempt to create those pies with the exact same recipes. Let’s just say we’ve had mixed results. I think it’s difficult to completely screw up a pie, but I’m guessing there were a lot of little things my grandmother was doing that couldn’t be translated onto a recipe card. Here’s where Easy As Pie comes in.
Given her past experience, it’s understandable how she fits perfectly into this format. Her instruction is entertaining, and easy to understand and it feels reassuring that we’re in the hands of a professional.
The Appetites Way
Easy As Pie works and functions in a very similar fashion to their original Appetites application. The focus is still entirely on step by step videos, but the interface is a bit different.
Browsing the Pies
The available pie recipes are broken down into three sections, specialty, Evan’s favorites, and pudding pies. Each section includes a swipe-able video preview list where you can flip through the recipes. Tapping on a recipe will bring up a bit of additional information along with an audio preview of the recipe from Evan. Here you’ll also find the important "Download" button. When you’ve decided you want to try a recipe out, tap that button and it will begin downloading (more in this in a bit).
Crusts and Toppings
What are two core components of any pie? You guessed it, crusts and toppings. And Easy As Pie actually breaks out these aspects of each recipe into different sections all their own. So for example, if you’re cooking the Blackberry Sugar Cream pie recipe you’ll find a link that will take you to the particular crust being used first.
This is a cool way to organize the components of pie baking. As you get more comfortable with the recipes in the application and learn some things you’ll no doubt want to experiment with some pies of your own. With the crusts and toppings components broken out you can refer back to just those things as needed.
I should also mention that you can get a zoomed out view of the entire application by tapping a button in the upper-right hand corner of the display. It essentially zooms the entire interface out and shows you a thumbnail view of all the videos. You can then jump to any specific video.
As I mentioned earlier, when you’re browsing recipes you’ll see the option to download a recipe. Tapping that button will put the recipe in your download queue and you can continue browsing. Once it has completed you’ll see a "Bake" button when browsing recipes where you previously saw the "Download" button.
The actual baking is pretty straightforward. Once you’ve chosen to bake a particular pie you’ll be taken to the video steps. You flip through the videos vertically. Each step is segmented as its own video.
The videos include some audio instruction and will loop only the video portion as long as you remain on that video. You’ll also see an option to replay the audio if you’d like. This is helpful as it may take you a couple views to figure a specific step out. You’ll also find a bit of textual instruction below the video along with the step number.
Along the left-hand side of the display you’ll see a tab labeled "steps". This pulls out to give you a full list of the steps involved in the recipe. This is great for jumping around in a recipe. As you go through these multiple times you may be able to skip through the steps you already know (some are very short and specific), but you’re always just a tap away from any step in the recipe.
On the right-hand side of the display you’ll find a tab that pulls out and displays the full ingredient list. This is useful when for example a step calls to add the milk and you can’t recall exactly how much to add. There’s also an option to share the ingredients from here as well. The app doesn’t have an export to a grocery list type of function, but this can work in that scenario.
Just email the ingredient list to yourself and you’ll have it on your smartphone. Of course, this is also helpful to share the recipe with a friend as well.
The iPad is a terrific cooking companion and there are a ton of solid applications for anyone that is either an expert chef or someone simply trying to learn. This one does cost $4.99, which isn’t particularly cheap, but I will say if you’re at all interested in learning to cook pies it is absolutely worth it.
The Appetites team is aiming to re-think the cookbook and they have done just that once again with Easy As Pie. The high quality video steps are absolutely perfect for really learning how to cook a recipe. You not only learn what is included, but you pick up on techniques throughout that you just can’t get with a written recipe.
This style of cooking application has truly sparked an interest in cooking for me across the board. I am now more capable of handling other (written) recipes from what I’ve learned cooking with these apps. I’m very excited to continue to explore pie baking with Easy As Pie and also to see what else these folks come up with next.