Pie. Baking. Making. Making anything really. In this season of my life it’s important that I take the time to make. And to learn. I saw a listing on the Broome County Regional Farmer’s Market Facebook page for making pies. And I thought to myself that I really wanted to start baking again. I used to bake. A lot. Then I stopped. Mostly because I would end up eating everything. By myself. Not good. And I never really had an opportunity to give things away for various reasons. Then I started my new job and I decided that I would take things in to work. And give them away there. And then I signed up for the pie making class. And then I started baking.
The pie making class was great. I was nervous about doing something on my own (I don’t normally do that. But that day I ended up eating at a restaurant on my own and attending the class by myself). I needed not worry though. Everyone was super friendly and nice and outgoing. The instructor, Chef Danielle of Underground Baker, was great. She was so patient, helpful, funny, encouraging, and very, very knowledgable. Just what you need in someone who is teaching you new, or long forgotten, skills. And this was a hands-on class. You made the dough. You peeled and cut the apples. You made the filling. You rolled the dough. You put it all together. Chef Danielle showed you how to do it. Talked you through the process, but you were getting your hands dirty. And you cleaned up after as well. I loved it. I came home with a finished (and cooked) pie. You didn’t have to cook your pie. You could wrap it and freeze it, which Chef Danielle talked us through as well. She told us what to do with leftover pie dough. She helped us flute our pies, braid dough, double crust, crumble, lattice work. You named it, she helped us.
My pie dough was a little dry, and a little frustrating to work with. But that made me want to come home and make another pie so I can perfect my dough. And I did. Well, not perfect my dough, but made another pie. I made a mixed berry pie with frozen berries and I had to adjust the filling ingredients to accommodate the extra juices. Because Chef Danielle told us the secret to making sure your filling isn’t runny. But I’m not going to divulge any of her secrets. You’ll have to take one of her classes (which are super reasonably priced, I might add, but fill up fast). But I did it! I made that second pie. And it was good. I still need to work on the dough. But I’m on a baking kick and there will be more pie.
As for the participants in the class. They were just as nice, friendly, encouraging as Chef Danielle. This is one thing that I really want to do–get out of my comfort zone and meet new people. We talked farming, homesteading, chickens, blogging, pictures, you name it, we probably talked about it. I think that’s really what this class was for me too–not just learning a new skill but about making connections that I might not normally make because of the lack of opportunity. Or you sit at home and don’t get out much. Whatever the reason….this is a judgement free zone! And there were participants who had taken a class from Chef Danielle before. So there are opportunities to meet new people or take classes with them again.
I didn’t take notes. I wished I would have. But I’m hoping that the more pies I make the more I will remember what was said in class. I did take tons of photos which helps me when I look at them to remember what looks right. What feels right. Sometimes it’s about how something feels.
One thing that I want to do too is to make the dough with different fats. Chef Danielle makes an all butter crust. I want to experiment with lard and shortening. She also gave us the conversions for using different fats: lard, shortening, vegan fats. I have the shortening but not the lard. But I do have pig fat in the freezer and one of these days I’m going to have the time to render it into lard. I have been researching how to do this and the best way to do it. I think I’m going to grind the frozen lard and then put it in the crock pot on low. That’s why I haven’t done it yet. I need to be present in order to cook it on low over the course of the day. Stay tuned for more details on how that goes. I can also use the lard in soap making if the rendering goes sideways. Or if I don’t like the pie crusts with lard.
So as you can hopefully tell, there are so many different opportunities for making available to us if we just look for them. And then after you have that opportunity, and you gain some confidence (if you didn’t have it beforehand), you can really start exploring and experimenting. Or at least that’s what it means for me. Happy making and baking y’all.