I taught my first pie workshop at North House Folk School to a group of 8th graders from the Virgin Islands!
I grew up in Braham, the Homemade Pie Capital of Minnesota. (Really– it’s official. We have a document from the governor). Our Pie Day festival is the first Friday in August, and some 600+ fruit pies are made by volunteers each year. Plus, there’s a pie baking contest, a pie eating contest, and maybe a little pie-ing in the face.
I grew up baking pies with my grandma. There’s something deeply comforting in the twist of the pastry cutter through lard and flour, the clack of the rolling pin, and of course, the rich flavor of berry filling in a tender crust.
I approached North House Folk School with a bunch of ideas for baking classes (brunch, coffee cakes, Scandinavian pastries), and they loved the idea of a pie class.
Before my first class I called my mom up; I needed another experienced baker to be my sounding board. Was estimating half a pie per person too much? Was five pies in three hours totally crazy, especially with 12-year-olds?
I’m happy to report that the class went wonderfully! The kids were great; they were creative with spices, and even did all the dishes!
- apple-cranberry galette
- blueberry with a lattice top
- mixed berry pocket pies
- and cheater cherry pie (canned filling and homemade whipped cream)
Teaching pie baking revealed how much I know without knowing I know it. (For example, I had never noticed that I tap pie crusts to test they’re doneness).
I was also delighted to discover I wasn’t an uptight teacher. I always prefer baking solo, and I was a little worried they hyper-critical introvert cook in me might not enjoy this. But it was lovely. To be able to bake a pie feels like proof that you can survive in this world– not just on bread and water and potatoes, but that you can turn very simple things — flour, fat, water, salt, fruit– into something elegant, beautiful, and deeply satisfying.
I also realized that though the kids didn’t make stock photo-worthy pie crusts (an impossible first-time feat), even a messy pie is a beautiful pie. Brush a little egg wash on and the crust shines golden yellow. Didn’t pinch the crusts together properly? Oozing blueberry filling makes a pie look alive, real, made by a human being.
So, all in all, a VERY gratifying experience: delicious pies were made, kids were creative, and I even did some drawing that has me scheming about a hand lettered mini recipe book.