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(Re) Learning to Make Pie

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Rhubarb Pie


It’s amazing how a simple change or two can sometimes have such a big impact. I guess this goes for many things in life but right now I’m talking pie. Delicious pie.

A couple of weeks ago I attended an Art of the Pie class taught by Kate McDermott. I’ve long known about Kate’s reputation as the pie-maker supreme but had never had a chance to test or taste her pies for myself. So a recent Friday night found me and a couple of others assembling in Kate’s home for our chance to experience it all.

Kate welcomes you to her home, shows you around a bit and then it’s up to you to settle in and make yourself at home. Classes are very small – no more than four people – and the classroom is her kitchen with just enough room for each student to have a little counter space of their own. But first, the class gathers around a little table as Kate starts by talking through the steps and recipe you will follow. Then each person moves to their personal space and begins making crust with Kate watching, helping, answering questions and generally making sure you’re getting the feel of it.

Once the dough is made and resting in the fridge it’s on to the filling, in our case one of my favorites, rhubarb! Next you roll out the bottom crust and place it in the pie plate, add the filling, place the top crust on the pie and then it’s time to cut and seal the edges. Kate demonstrates several options but you could also come up with your own idea, if you like. Once the final touches are in place and the pies placed in the oven the class sits down to share a glass of sparkling wine and a pie that Kate made earlier in the day.



Rhubarb Pie


I realize that in reading this little post, the class may not sound like much but that’s only because there’s no way to adequately capture all the information Kate shares throughout the 4-hour+ class.

Kate is not only an amazing baker but is also a great teacher. I think much of that comes from her generous spirit. She likes people and wants them to succeed. She demystified making the perfect crust and instructs you to show it who’s in charge. If you think you will make the perfect pie, you will.

The class is suitable for all skill levels.  It works even when the students have various levels of experience, since much of the instruction is hands-on and individualized based on questions.  Kate’s method is not that much different from what I’ve done for years, yet the results were definitely a step or two up from pies I’ve made in the past.  And that was even with me over thinking it all a bit – I was trying hard to internalize the new information and not just revert back to old ways.  When I quit thinking and instead let my senses and intuition tell me what to do, I’m always a better baker.  Even with that I was very happy with the pie I made (and got to take home!). 

Kate’s classes always fill quickly. If you wait to hear about them, chances are you’ll miss the boat.  Get on her mailing list (there’s a little box at the bottom of her home page) so you’ll know as soon as classes become available.  And then sign-up ASAP!  One note: read the rules and disclaimers!  These are small classes and once you have a reservation it’s yours.  For good.  So don’t sign-up thinking you can change your date later if you need to because you really can’t.

Most of Kate’s classes are held in Seattle but she often adds sessions in other locations.  This fall she’s teaching a class in France.  It’s already full but I bet there will be similar opportunities in the future. 

Summer’s coming and that means fresh fruit will soon be in the markets.  Let’s all get ready to eat pie!

The photos in this post are of the pie I made and took home to eat after the class.

  1. Monica Hagen permalink
    12-Jul-2011 9:25 am

    Wow, GORGEOUS photos!!

  2. 12-Jul-2011 12:09 pm

    Thank you, Monica!

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