My friend Paula and I devoted a good chunk of last Sunday to learning how to make pie...and, more specifically, pie crusts. If you're reading this and in my family, you might be going "what the??" because you know that my mom is an amazing baker, as is my grandma. When my mom is over these days, we don't have the time to devote to learning just how to make pie (hello toddler!)...and I needed directions...specific directions. I'm an engineer, for crying out loud! I had tried making pie dough a few years ago using my favorite resource, Cook's Illustrated. And it came out tough, burnt (it was an overflow pie onto my oven floor) so I bagged it and have used pre-frozen pie crusts from Essential Baking (local company) since then.
Enter an Art of the Pie workshop by Kate McDermott. I can't remember where I originally heard of her or the classes...probably one of the Seattle food blogs that I read. But, I was intrigued. Pie Camp sounded amazing, but that chunk of time was a non-starter. So, Paula agreed and we signed up for a class up in Port Angeles.
Let me tell you, it was amazing. Paula and I were both blown away by the process (a lot of "approximately" - which is something in baking I didn't think existed). It was quick, straightforward and made perfect sense. The ingredients are pretty easy...except for leaf lard. I need to find a local-ish source for that. Yes, I made a pie with lard. And it was amazing. I'm sure that the all butter ones came out beautifully as well, but I figured if I was going for it, I might as well go all the way.
Kate had some goodies of leftover pie crust rolled up with cinnamon sugar to start the day and give us a taste of what we were in for...it only got better from there.
While our pies were baking, she shared her history, stories about how recipes were fine-tuned, adventures, etc. I was taken with how late in life a normal career (i.e., in the last 10 years - and she's probably somewhere in her 50s) she found this calling and started in on pies. Pretty extraordinary. She's known nationwide now for her pie expertise...we also had some killer rhubarb pie.
And, behold - our graduation photo. Paula is baking hers later...but I was not that patient.
They turned out fabulously...now I just need to make another.