Seattle Baking Class: How to Make a Pie – Ninja Style!

How to make a pie

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and what post would be more perfect than ~ How to make a pie !!

Nothing exemplifies happiness, family love and America, like the pleasure of baking a pie. Baking has always been a passion of mine and I have learned from my mother, taking classes and reading cookbooks. When the kids were little, for their birthdays, there was always a special themed cake. Then after they out grew the children’s cakes, their choice was always my Spice Cake with maple frosting. I remember so clearly the pure joy of creating a Cinderella Castle cake or a Peter Pan alligator cake, decorated Halloween sugar cookies and my “famous” Oreo Cheesecake at Christmas.

How to make a pie
Pear & Vanilla Bean with Ginger Streusel – These pies are awaiting their streusel topping!

Although I am a pretty great home cook and baker, there is always so much more to learn! Alex, Kirsten and I took a hands-on “ninja-style” pie making class from chef and owner, Brandi Henderson, at The Pantry in Seattle. The Pantry is a community kitchen in the charming Seattle neighborhood of Ballard and the cooking classes are popular as well as a red-hot commodity. They offer a variety of classes that focus on traditional food crafts and technique, culinary camps for the kids, and other creative ideas that bring people together to eat great food and to learn.

I think the “ninja” part of the title of the class refers to learning from an expert who can seamlessly take you through the steps for baking delectable pies that will dazzle your friends and family. It sure worked for us! Thank you Brandi! It was enlightening and such a fantastic way to spend an evening!

How to make a pie
She is showing us how to quickly crimp the edges before fluting. See below about fluting.


We learned all of the basics, from the best type of flour to use (pastry), the best type of fat (sweet butter, never Crisco) and other helpful ways to make the most golden, flakiest, light and delicious pies ever! We tasted the results and I promise that Brandi is the pie ninja of the universe!

How to make a pie
This is Kirsten, who is Alex’s dear friend and like a daughter to me. She has also taken so many of Brandi’s classes. She is brushing an egg wash into the pie shell. It helps to seal the shell when you have a liquid filling like in the pecan pie.
How to make a pie
Pouring the sugary, maple(y), buttery, creamy pecan pie filling in to the pecan filled shell. This first photo was a great shot of the filling. But the second one below shows Kirsten’s “Oh!” expression!
How to make a pie
You can see Kirsten loving this part of the process with her “oh” as she is watching. So much fun!

Without giving all of Brandi’s secrets away – Here were my “aha” moments for how to make a pie.

  • Refrigerate your flour
  • Use icy cold cubes of butter
  • Use only about 4 oz of cold water
  • Don’t over play with the dough
  • Your bench scraper is your friend
  • Refrigerate your dough for at least an hour, but a few more is better, before you roll out
  • If your disc of dough is too hard from refrigeration, slap it with your pin in order to get it slightly warmed up and expand the circle of dough
  • Line the unbaked shell with foil (shiny side down) and dump in dried beans to weigh it down while baking
  • Bake the frozen shell in a hot oven
How to make a pie
Lovely Alex whacking the pie dough.. what? Read above.
How to make a pie
Rolling out the pie dough
How to make a pie
Look at the pretty fluting! I learned how to do this – So easy and pretty!


We made three different seriously mouth-watering pies: Brown Butter Pecan, Pear & Vanilla Bean with Ginger Streusel, and Caramel Pumpkin. They were without a doubt the tastiest pies I have ever eaten. Hands down, no argument. As Brandi says “What the world needs now is more pie” and I could not agree more.

how to make a pie

how to make a pie
My Brown Butter Pecan Pie! Crazy good!


I don’t even live in Seattle and I take these phenomenal classes! The enormous hand crafted wood farm table anchors the kitchen, the massive commercial ovens are silently heating the room, there are shelves of cooking tools and even hooks for your coats! In addition to our instructor, there are several assistants to help with everything. The friendly kitchen/classroom feels so cozy and inviting and they even serve a glass of wine while we learn! Loved it! Pick a class, plan a trip to visit Seattle and enjoy a tremendous personal cooking experience that you will never forget.

how to make a pie

how to bake a pie
Photo by Alex Stavert~ Fleur de sel flakes sprinkled on the Caramel Pumpkin Pie – Divine! Also… although this looks like a skimpy piece, we ate three different pieces at one time. I was glad for the smaller sliver of pie. We also took home a whole pie! 🙂

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Are you making pies this holiday season? What is your favorite kind of pie?

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15 thoughts on “Seattle Baking Class: How to Make a Pie – Ninja Style!”

  1. I make at least six different pies every Thanksgiving…Wish I had been there with you. The class looks like it was so much fun and the pictures of your pies are mouth-watering delicious!

    • I bet your pies are delicious Jan. Everything you make is always amazing. One of these days (probably after the holidays) you and Herb need to come over to our house for dinner. 🙂

  2. Don’t you love shared experiences with your kids now that they are young adults! I find my daughter and I are bonding over all sorts of experiences now and a pie making class just before the holidays sounds perfect. Impressed with your fluting techniques, but skimpy on the size of the caramel pumpkin pie! Guess now is the time to watch the calories before the festivities kick into high gear!

    • I have more fun as our kids have gotten older! Ha, I meant to comment that that piece of pie was one of three that I ate! I initially thought it was too small, but three pieces is a lot to eat.

  3. Pecan is definitely my favourite pie, but I think I would also love than caramel pumpkin! A pie making class would be of keen interest to me as I always shy away from making them as I’m afraid to goof up the crust. Thx for sharing, Suzanne, and Happy Thanksgiving if I don’t talk to you again soon. 🙂

  4. This looks like a delightful and useful class on making pies. Thanks for sharing the tips just in time for making our holiday pies. I’d love the recipe of that pear with vanilla bean and ginger topping. Sounds perfect! Our neighbor has a pear tree and we’ve been the lucky recipient of many delicious pears. Would love to try this one!


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