In keeping with the baking theme, I'm reviewing The Art Of The Pie Crust class this week. If you're afraid of pie crusts, or have done them before and had a big fail, this class will help you out tremendously.
The most disappointing thing about eating pie can be the crust. If the filling is good that's nice, but a good filling in a rock-hard crust is like trying to paint a garbage can platinum. It might be shiny, but underneath it it's still a garbage can. The class covers everything that you'll need to make a non-garbage can pie crust.
The class is taught by Evan Kleiman, who is a cookbook author and the creator of the "pie a day" project, which is now an annual event that culminates in a pie-baking contest in Los Angeles. She goes through the ingredients and the steps that you can use to make a basic crust, then shows you how to tweak it to your liking.
This class was interesting because making pie crust is so basic, but people just do it wrong all the time. Actually watching someone do it the right way shows you more than reading about it can, especially because there are things that you need to do differently depending on what type of fat you're using. She goes through all of that, and by the time you're done you'll be able to go make a crust the right way even if you stunk at it before.
The class hits on ingredients, equipment, mixing, rolling the dough, and blind baking. It also has a section on decorating the crust, and a recipe for apple pie.
The only thing that I found a little iffy was how apologetic she was when lard came into the conversation. I get that people hear the word "lard" and freak out, and she was standing up for lard in a way by trying to ease people into the idea of it. All you have to say is that if you don't want to use lard you won't get as flaky a crust, end of story. It doesn't mean that you have to start using it in everything you bake, so relax.
So for my final review:
Skill level: Beginner to Intermediate
have to have: Baking supplies, DIGITAL SCALE (she doesn't give volume measurements)
Not bad, but I find the sight of butter being chopped pretty interesting, sad to say.
What it assumes
you already know: Not very much, it shows you every step along the way.
Unnecessary Difficulty Level Of Methods
Demonstrated: Not much
Annoying Host Habits: Just the lard thing.
Level of Helpful Hints Learned: Even if your pie crusts before now have been soggy, saggy or sad, you'll be able to make a good one that will make the other bakers jealous if you follow her tips. And isn't making the other bakers jealous the point?
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Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, online cake supplies at www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com