CARTHAGE, Ill. — Lilyana Bliss quickly rolled out her piecrust, then carefully transferred it into a pie plate.
“It’s just fun for me to make pies,” the 8-year-old from Basco said. “It’s kind of our tradition in our family to make pies a lot.”
Her favorite kind of pie, cherry, soon was headed into the oven with apple and peach varieties made by participants in the recent Pie 101 workshop sponsored by the Hancock County Farm Bureau.
Not far away, 10-year-old Charli Wisehart worked on crimping the crust of her peach pie.
“I like pies,” said the Carthage girl, who already likes to bake cookies and brownies.
Charli’s cousin, 10-year-old Nolan Markey, was less certain about making pie. Although not especially interested in cooking, “I thought it would be cool” to attend the workshop, the Carthage boy said.
Julie Knoche of Sutter Produce Co. led the first-time workshop with help from Farm Bureau Manager Kristin Huls and adult volunteers.
“I’m hoping they will learn a skill that has kind of gone by the wayside. A lot of people don’t know how to make pies anymore, or even bake. I grew up making fruit pies,” said Knoche, who bakes 100 pies a week for the Farm Stand in Quincy and to sell at the Carthage farmer’s market during the height of the growing season.
The 14 young people helped make pie crust in the food processor, learned how to make fruit filling and snacked on pies baked by Knoche, who also shared some tips for working with pie pastry.
“Don’t handle it too much. If you handle it too much, it gets tough, so I use a food processor to work all the ingredients together,” Knoche said. “All of a sudden, it pulls together. It’s very satisfying.”
So is rolling out the dough.
“Try to roll it out fairly thin. It gets flaky,” she said. “If you freeze the dough before you use it, then thaw it out, it gets even flakier.”
While their five-inch pies baked, the young people did some math with Hancock County ag literacy coordinator Dawn Weinberg turning the recipe for one pie into a recipe for six – just like Knoche does to bake large quantities at one time – and played Bingo with pie-baking terms and ingredients.
The idea for the workshop came from conversations Huls had with parents, who said they wished they would have listened to a grandmother who tried to teach them to bake pies, and she hopes to offer similar workshops, even one for adults, in the future.
“Pie making is kind of a lost art — and a life skill,” Huls said. “It’s an educational thing, too. You’re learning math. You’re learning science, and most important, our kids are going to learn about agriculture.”
For 13-year-old Grace Stevens and her 10-year-old sister Caroline, baking pies are just fun.
“It’s good practice,” Grace said.
“We like to bake things at home, and we want to be able to bake things in the future because it’s a good skill,” Caroline said. “If you know how, you might be able to pass it on to other people like they are doing for us right now.”
Place flour and salt in food processor. Pulse one or two times. Add butter and margarine; process until crumbles form. Add cold water and lemon juice, and process until a ball forms.
Makes a double nine-inch deep dish crust or a single 10-inch crust or three five-inch double crusts.
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
Mix sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Stir in apples. Place in a nine-inch pie crust and top with a second crust. Bake at 425 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes until brown.