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Pie Making in The City

November 24, 2009

It was like playing in a sandbox. Instead it was the Glassell Park kitchen of caterer Jennie Cook.  Instead of  sand pails and shovels, we had aprons, whisks and rolling pins.

We weren’t making mud pie, we were making pumpkin, apple and pecan pies.

I’ve been blessed to go to major awards shows, gala parties and other various and sundry celebrity events. Truth is this event takes the cake. I can’t think of a time in Lala when I had more fun.

The Event: The way the Make It & Take It Party worked was that Jennie provided the pie fixins’ along with a generous helping of cooking advice.  All you had to bring was your apron and pie pans.  The cooking session was strategically  scheduled the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Genius. No question about what you’ll have for dessert on the day you give thanks this Thursday.

Ambiance: Lemonade, cranberry orange conserve and live band music–with origins somewhere from the Appalachians, I reckon, greeted this gathering of pie makers as we entered the courtyard.


The crowd was a mix of hipsters, foodies and families. Mothers and daughters. Mothers and sons. Fathers and sons. One baking team was three generations–a grandmother, daughter and granddaughter.

One mother told me her teenage daughter reminded her of the event so they could go together. Whaaa? A teenager who wants to hang out with her mother.

Many of them were newbies who had never baked a pie before. You could clearly see the sense of accomplishment they had in creating just desserts.

Pecan Pie: For my pecan pie, I decided to use one of my tart pans. I love the way it dresses up baked goods with nothing more than its shape. Yes, I am unconventional. It was the only square pan in the bunch. One fellow baker told me, “You are thinking outside the box.” Then she corrected herself. “No, I guess you are baking inside the box.” True dat.

Jennie kindly provided laminated copies of the recipes. I did go a bit rogue. Instead of two eggs, I used four egg whites. The recipe also called for light corn syrup, molasses, brown sugar and vanilla. I noted that another baker, this one a bespectacled man who I suspect never baked a pie before, made his pie vegan by adding cornstarch instead of eggs. The cooking time for his pie was longer than mine was because of that.

As for me, I’ve only made pecan pie only once before. This one was much better. That’s because of the presentation, I really love the look of the square pan, and the recipe.

The only thing I would do next time would be to make the crust thinner and put in more of the filling.

Apple Pie: My primary reason for going to the pie party was the was to make a great apple pie. I have made a delicious tarte tatin, but I think it’s easier. As fancy as the name is, it’s basically an upside down apple pie.

Baking the perfect apple pie has eluded me. The crust has to be just so. Ditto the apple juices that bubble inside the crust.

Jennie’s recipe called for granny smith apples, flour, lemon juice, butter, cinnamon and granulated sugar. One of my new pie making friends, Wendy, advised me she used brown sugar. Great hack. We both  also  decided to reduce the amount of butter.  She also reached into her secret stash and shared her special apple pie spice mix with me–along with a snack of  a white chocolate  caramel apple truffle. And when this pre-Christmas Claus determined that I didn’t have enough apples for my pie, she was kind enough to play sous chef and cut up more slices. Wendy advised that apples do shrink when you bake them.

The Main Ingredient: The hostess,  Jennie Cook, reminded me of a KitchenAid stand mixer, with the dough hook. She swirled around the party and the kitchen and brought everything together. She  skillfully blended a lovely menu of food, family and friends, old and freshly-baked.

The Next Time: My pies did turn out beautifully, if I say so myself. My apple pie was dotted with a bit of crumble.  However, I got the most compliments for my pecan pie. Even Jennie gave me some props for it. And truthfully, it was just because I used a cool pan. All I could think about was sharing them.Next time, I will make my crusts thinner.I hope there is a next time. I heard some pie  participants wishing for a spring session. I vote for having one for all the holidays.

Star Tips:

  • Start your baking now for Thanksgiving.
  • Adjust the recipe to you. I cut the sugar and butter. I didn’t cut a bit of taste. I used egg whites only. A fellow baker went vegan using cornstarch instead of eggs. Don’t hesitate to design the recipe around you. Why use white sugar when brown will do?
  • Use a cool pan. The square pan I used for my pecan pie did not use any extra fat or sugar. It did add style.
  • Involve your children in your baking. All of those in attendance seemed to have so much fun.
  • Enjoy every bite of it.
7 Comments leave one →
  1. November 24, 2009 9:41 am

    Yum! Pecan pie is one of my absolute favs.

  2. lenanozizwe permalink*
    November 24, 2009 11:45 am

    This one was really delicious. Jennie provided light corn syrup so, while it’s rich, it’s not so heavy.

  3. November 29, 2009 4:16 pm

    That pecan pie looks awesome!What a great event that was.I came across your site from the foodieblogroll and I’d love to guide our readers to your site if you won’t mind.Just add your choice of foodista widget to this post and it’s all set, Thanks!

    • lenanozizwe permalink*
      November 29, 2009 6:40 pm

      It will be my delight, Alisa. I’m currently having a challenge or two with the internets—as soon as it’s worked out I’ll be widgeting you.
      Shine on!

  4. December 10, 2009 4:52 am

    Wow! Those are GREAT photos you took! And thanks for showcasing the pecan pie’s ‘nutty’ bottom layer secret. I have not previously encountered that. I look forward to seeing you again at another Bake It and Take It event!


  1. Make it and Take it – November Fun « Party Tips
  2. Make it and Take it – November Fun « Jennie Cooks, A Catering Company

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