I convinced both my friend Michele and my mother-in-law Kathy to take the class with me, since pie crusts have always alluded me. It was a very popular hands-on class, so I ended up just watching and taking notes and pictures since I wanted to make sure to give a good report for the 10-class challenge.
Chef Katy Monti asked us at the beginning of class, “What brings you to this class?”
Janet, one of my spunky classmates, succinctly said, “Failure.”
As we all had a chance to answer in turn, past failure or fear of failure was a constant theme in our answers.
So Chef Katy alleviated our fears by telling us that we were going to do every step together. We would stop after each step to both see and feel the dough in all of its various stages, so that we would know if we were on the right track. Everyone would leave with a pie ready for baking at the end of class. Cool!
We first made a crust so we could get it into the refrigerator, because one of the keys is to get the dough to relax. It’s gotta chill out! Literally chill out in the fridge for at least an hour. We started with a tried-and-true recipe that Chef Katy uses to get the buttery, flaky crust we all want. Get this–It has cream cheese in the crust. Brilliant!
As we pulsed the butter and cream cheese with our dry ingredients, Chef Katy had us all feel for pea-sized pieces, telling us if we had gone too far or if we needed another pulse or two in the food processor. She said that when we were ready to dump out all our combined ingredients, it should look like a big crumbly mess.
Sure enough, when we dumped it out from the food processor container, it looked like a pile of lumpy flour. It was not even close to being combined. This wasn’t looking promising!
The next key to pie crust success is parchment paper. Chef Katy showed us how to start shaping this crumbly pile of flour and fat into a smooth, marbled disk of dough. She used the heel of her hand and started to press and lean into the flour, and slowly, it started to incorporate together. I was shocked how easy it was and how quickly it actually started to shape up. And how awesome parchment paper is!
We then divided the dough, wrapped them up in plastic wrap, and got them chilling.
Chef Katy then showed us how to roll out the perfect crust. Once again, parchment paper is key here. She got her French rolling pin and some flour and started the process, giving us tips on how to shape it into a nice circle, how to keep it from sticking, and how we should be using our hands to gage the evenness of the crust. She also promised that we would make a big mess!
With the dough she rolled out, she showed us how to make an apple pie and put it in the oven so we would have a treat at the end of class.
She pulled out dough she had made the day before and everyone started to roll out their crusts. Her parchment paper trick was awesome and made for easy rolling and easy transferring into the pie tin.
Each student then filled their pie with a blueberry filling, then rolled out their top dough. People were getting creative with their top design too. Some people are so talented! After all the pies were completed, we covered them and sent them to chill while we had fresh apple pie.
And that apple pie was amazing! And the crust–the crust was to die for! It was buttery and flaky and everything you would want in a crust. Watch out, Marie Callender’s!
I felt so empowered after class. I could go home and make a crust now on my own without a problem–I was sure of it.
Since I didn’t actually make a pie crust in class from start to finish, I was determined to try it myself. I got together with some friends and taught them what I learned. And my pie turned out perfectly!
And a week later, while I was visiting my sister for Thanksgiving, I made all the pie crusts and they turned out amazing too.
I am no longer a pie crust failure. Victory!
All I have to say is that this class was worth it. Take it. Love it. Embrace it. And you will have awesome pies too!