Allrecipes + Girl Scouts = Apple Pie Success!
On any typical Sunday, the kitchens and corridors of Allrecipes Headquarters in Seattle are quiet, save for the humming sounds of the server room. We recently hosted a troop of Girls Scouts for a pie-baking lesson however, which filled the building with voices from thirteen enthusiast nine-year-olds (and a few parent chaperones) learning the essential techniques for making apple pie.
My friend Kathy – who I've been friends with since we were nine years old – approached me about helping her daughter's troop earn their baking badge. I knew that Allrecipes Headquarters would be the perfect location – we have a large test kitchen, lots of seating, and two ovens. I also knew that I wanted to teach them how to bake something other than cookies. Teaching them how to make pie crust would give them a skill they could apply to multiple dishes: quiche, fruit pie, cream pie, pumpkin pie, you get the idea. But could nine year-olds tackle what is an otherwise advanced baking technique, one which many adults fear? There's a reason grocery store shelves are stocked with pre-made pie crust. There's nothing easy about making homemade pie.
Prepping for Pies
In order to take on the challenge of hosting this class, I enlisted the help of one of the best bakers I know – my mom! Irja is semi-retired and always game for a challenge, especially when it involves cooking. It helped that Kathy's daughter Makenna is one of her favorite third graders. Mom, Kathy, Makenna, and I met up at Allrecipes a couple of hours before everyone else arrived to set-up work stations, pre-measure and chop ingredients, and bake full-sized apple pies we could eat together, since the girls would be taking their creations home with them to share with their families.
Once the troop arrived, we had them break into teams of two and three, each supervised by an adult. One of my favorite recipes for pie crust is Butter Flaky Pie Crust. It's simple in terms of ingredients, but a little tricky to master. I shared some tricks with the nascent bakers that I've learned through making hundreds of pies: The importance of accurate measuring, why keeping your ingredients cold and handling the dough as little as possible will result in the flakiest pie crust, and some tricks for rolling out crust. The class was so well-behaved and very quick studies. I've had more difficulty teaching baking classes to adults!
Time for Filling
After we prepared the crust dough, we wrapped it and allowed it rest in the refrigerator (another favorite trick I've learned!) while we took a break to enjoy some of the apple pie baked earlier. After the break, we moved onto the apple pie filling. We had one of the new Allrecipes' apple peeler and slicer tools at our disposal, and it made quick work of the 15-plus pounds of apples we'd purchased! I'll admit to going a bit off-recipe for the filling. We loosely followed this recipe, but added a lot more cinnamon, plus a bit of salt to balance out the sweetness. Sometimes you need to adjust sugar, salt, and spices in a pie filling recipe, depending on the sweetness or flavor of the fruit.
Finally, it was time to assemble the pies. The chilled dough was rolled out into two discs. One was gently transferred into the 5-inch pie tins, then each pie got a generous portion of the apple filling before the second disc of dough was placed on top. I showed them how to crimp the edges of the pie crusts together with the fingers of one hand and the thumb of the other, or to simply use the tines of a fork for creating a patterned seal around the edge. We cut some slits in the top for steam to later escape, then the pies were boxed up and ready to go home. All in all, a big success: baking fun and badges!
About Girl Scouts
Girl Scouts of the United States was founded in 1912. The organization of over 2.5 million girls and adults aims to empower girls and to teach values such as honesty, courage, compassion, and confidence, through camping, community service, learning first aid, and earning badges by acquiring practical skills.
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