Pie making has always been a challenge for me. While I can usually whip up a somewhat acceptable piecrust, I’ve never been able to achieve a smooth, silky, rounded sheet of dough that I didn’t have to do a lot of patchwork on once I wrestled it into the pie pan. I followed what I thought were all the rules about using ice water, cold butter, handling it as little as possible, and still ended up with a jagged mess that would tear or stick together before I got it into the pan. I can make gorgeous loaves of bread, crispy, round pizzas, but pie? Impossible!
Enter King Arthur Flour in Norwich, Vermont, with their wonderful bakery, café, gift shop, and baking school. For $85 a person, we registered for their Easy as Pie baking lesson, worth every penny for their patient, well-paced instruction, well-equipped work benches, and fresh, delicious ingredients to make a (at least for me) groundbreaking peach/blueberry pie with a perfectly browned, flaky, and lightly-sugared crust unlike any I’ve made before.
Here are the items we used in class, all available on Amazon.
This is by far the best flour not the market, in my opinion. I use it to make all of my breads, cookies, and cakes.
This is the same rolling pin we used in class (although this version has wooden handles instead of plastic
This is a crucial tool for cutting fat evenly into flour
The perfect measuring tool for liquids, especially for smaller amounts
Weighing the ingredients ensures the most consistent results. We used this scale.
We used this as a simple and effective way to juice lemons for your pies.
Use this for making quick work of zesting your lemons
We learned that metal pans were best. I have a number of other corrugated baking pans like these, and my breads, cakes, and other goodies back up beautifully.
Sparkling sugar doesn’t melt under heat, so it makes the perfect sweet crunch on top of your crust.
We learned the perfect temperature for ingredients (very cold!), and how to distribute the fat (butter) into the flour to ensure a consistent, flaky crust. If you want to give it a try, here is King Arthur Flour’s recipe for a basic butter pie crust (although we did not use the optional buttermilk powder). They did everything to ensure our success during the lesson, and the pies you made were truly your own handiwork.
The crust had that multilayered, crisp, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth buttery wonderfulness that looked and tasted like it came from a professional bakery (well, it actually did!).
Easy as pie! If you’re planning on being in and around Norwich, Vermont sometime, reserve a spot in class, relax, and have fun! Shop in the store and enjoy the bakery and café while you’re there. We loved it!