Art of the Pie Workshop with Kate McDermott
Posted Wednesday 17 August 2011on:
I find it difficult to define Australian cuisine. It’s a fusion of British traditions, multicultural flavours and classic techniques.
I don’t miss Australian food per se. What I do miss are our local eateries in Sydney – the pub with a view of Sydney harbour, the Italian restaurant with vinyl tablecloths, the efficient staff at the Thai take-away, the lovely Italian couple and their deli, the smoky smell of chickens roasting over charcoal. And the bakery.
The bakery with shelves full of flaky croissants, nutty cookies, crusty loaves of bread, fluffy sponge cakes, pretty fruit tarts, creamy vanilla slices, squares of rich brownies and light lamingtons. And pie.
A savoury pie for lazy weekend lunch. A sweet pie for weeknight dessert. A large pie for potluck dinner. A small pie to share as snack. It’s always pie time!
I love pie and other baked goods but I’m not a baker. Precise measurements, leavening agents and electric mixers – I’m lost in the science of it. The Art of the Pie Workshop with Kate McDermott has changed this. Teaching is her vocation and I’m privileged to have been her student.
Four strangers gathered at Kate’s home on Saturday afternoon to learn how to make pie. We left with pies and so much more. A genuine and happy soul, Kate warmly welcomed us and openly shared her life experiences.
A plate of ‘tasties’ greeted us. Made with leftover dough and rolled in cinnamon sugar, these delectable bites were indeed a taste of what we would be making.
Kate had purchased a bounty of fresh fruits from farmers’ markets. The mulberries were delightfully sweet and we all agreed we could easily consume a punnet to ourselves.
A vibrant red, the tart Montmorency cherries were ideal for a pie filling. We had fun taking turns pitting these.
Kate sourced these plump blueberries from a private farm in Prosser.
A late night pitting cherries by hand produced this beautiful pie.
Kate demonstrated her dough, generously noted hints and tips, and answered our questions with aplomb.
No sifting and no levelling, we scooped flour with a tea cup and made our dough confidently and quickly. Each batch is different and you have to use cold hands to feel if it’s ready.
I gleefully emptied containers of mulberries and tumbled blueberries into my pie dish.
Sugar, liqueur and thickener were gently stirred through the fruit and scooped into the pie dish.
The crust is next. Weaving the lattice was surprisingly easy. You can also use cookie cutters and arrange a pattern as the crust.
With our four pies in the oven, it was time to eat Kate’s cherry pie!
There was a moment of silence after the first forkful. Some closed their eyes, others exalted. I stared at my plate and wished my pie would taste half as delicious.
Fresh from the oven, the pies oozed and bubbled. We each hovered an ear over our pie, listening and breathing in the aromas.
Pie philosophy, baking with love and insightful conversations – it was an enlightening time.
A sincere thank you to Kate McDermott – pie maker extraordinaire, ‘practitioner of kindness’.