There are so many “graduation” moments in life. Particularly with school, we always have pomp with a commemorative ceremony. Before moving forward with the lessons we have scraped together along the way, it is our natural inclination to first look back. Maybe this might come across as overly intense for one day at Sarabande Books-sponsored Pie School. But as many moral lessons that you gather over the years, Kate Lebo’s pie teachings are about more than just pie.
Kate Lebo, pie Yoda at work.
Flour is hydrophilic, a.k.a. flour craves water. Baking pie is such an awesome, tactile experience; more so than with making cake.
Pie School and Kate's A Commonplace Book of Pie are as delicious as you can imagine. But the most enticing parts actually are Kate’s distinctive ways of looking at the world using pie as her beloved medium. I found her manner of embracing baking a fruit pie to be engaging and almost philosophical. At the same time, she still related to her audience of eager students with winsome humor.
Never been so excited to attend school on a Saturday before! Leave it to desserts to accomplish such great feats.
Pie is meant to be enjoyed among best friends. Glad Kinga was able to attend Pie School with me!
Kate Lebo had a very valid point to make: “Pie is a folk art. Most of us have stories of someone we love who taught us how to make pie.” Maybe that is one of the reasons pie is such a special treat. As Kate said, “Dough has a memory.” Metaphorically, that memory carries with it all the loved ones who have tossed pie dough. “You knead bread. You toss pie dough!”
Mothers and daughters, friends, strangers, all united by a love of pie.
Fun fact of Kate’s Pie School of Life: "Most fruit pies need a little lemon juice. That acid really helps to kick up the flavor.” Isn’t that exactly how the greatest life stories are written? Even a person who craves sugar as I do recognizes that you can’t fully appreciate the invigorating sweetness without some sharp tastes along the way.
"Apples are some of the most reliably delicious fruit year-round." Also, lesson: Pectant is essential for a pie, and apples naturally have a great deal of pectant!
"It's very easy to improvise your pie." Notice the pear? It adds sweetness to an apple pie. Nifty trick!
Kate Lebo with Kristen Miller of Sarabande Books, who helped bring Kate Lebo in for their annual Pie Party.
"Pie is the original Tupperware." If you think about the way a double-crusted fruit pie functions as a flavorful container for filling, it is actually a brilliant culinary metaphor.
Author/baker/waxing-wisdom-extraordinaire Kate plays with pie as a metaphor, knowing fully well the clichés that float around like, “easy as pie” or “sweet as pie.” She uses the expectations of merely “cute” to subvert them, turning the world into her own playground of pie-induced perceptions. That is the mark of a truly terrific writer. Kate is a self-proclaimed writer first, and baker of pies second. But that expressive artistic soul surely not only makes her words ring all the more true, but renders her baking art supremely delectable.
"Doesn't that look cool? I just made edible fabric."
“Pie is both maddening and exciting. The conditions are so variable,” Kate explained. The “high-wire act” is what makes pie the most worthwhile baking endeavor. “Cake is for engineers, detail-oriented, people who are good at being precise.” Life isn’t neatly packaged with bows and ribbons. It’s chaotic and spontaneous and audacious. You are meant to get flour on your fingertips. “Take out the perfection.”
"The secret to cutting pie is to cut two slices and then lift the first one." You could cut the anticipation for that pie in the room like a knife.
Smoke wafted from each wonderful slice.
The best pie crust walks the perfect line of both tender and flaky. And boy, was this pie crust sensational.
Ran into Katie Levy at Pie School!
Pie School graduates!
Kate Lebo signing copies of her book A Commonplace Book of Pie. Stellar Sweets Bakery made for an ideal setting for Pie School.
Katie Levy and her mom proudly holding up signed copies of Kate's book. Mother/daughter bonding memories are priceless.
Kate’s class ties into her book, which she calls, “A collection of facts, both real and imagined, about pie,” where your favorite pie says an entire story about who you might be as a person. For instance, “Contrary to popular opinion, pumpkin pie-lovers are adventurous, quizzical, good in bed and voluminously communicative.” Is Banana Cream Pie your favorite? Find out why “Bad bananas are like push-up bras.”
When I asked Kate what is her favorite pie and what is says about her, she responded she loves a good double-crust fruit pie. She likes to think of herself as a container of secrets that if you are fortunate to open up, you are surprised with what you might find. Kate relishes her femininity while simultaneously shining with feminist wit. She’s all about “dazzle camouflage.”
Do yourself a favor and purchase a copy of A Commonplace Book of Pie. For all who live in the moment and have not yet purchased a Valentine’s Day gift, this book pairs off poetry with recipes for a stirring read. Until then, I will be pouring over my copy as if the words were sizzling hot apple pie.