Sally Kirby’s sixth-graders at Hamblen Elementary School were looking forward to baking pies on Jan. 23, which is National Pie Day, but instead they got the year’s first snow day.
Not a bad tradeoff, perhaps, especially since staff from Cyrus O’Leary’s Pies came back and held a makeup pie day on Wednesday last week.
“We started doing this seven years ago at Hamblen Elementary School,” said Jo Shields, the pie day coordinator for Cyrus O’Leary’s Pies. “We have done this at other schools, but the support we get here at Hamblen is just outstanding.”
And support is important when attempting to bake apple pies with 25 sixth-graders.
Shields and her helper Micki Short had everything set up in the art room before the students arrived.
Tables were covered with plastic tablecloths, pie tins were ready and so were gloves, hairnets and chefs hats.
“You all have to wear the hairnets,” Shields said, as the kids giggled and put on the headgear. “In the pie factory we can’t have hair get in to the pies.”
As the kids got ready, Shields explained what they were going to do and then began handing out dough.
When she asked how many of the students had baked pies before, more than half raised their hands.
“I make the crust at my grandma’s house,” said Hailey Palmer, 12. “Sometimes we make it from scratch, sometimes we get it at the store.” Palmer said she had helped make custard, lemon and mint-chocolate pie.
Camryn Badner, 12, was a returning pie baker.
“We did this when I was in second grade, too,” Badner said.
There was a parent volunteer at each table, helping the students along.
Shields shared helpful hints along the way.
“You have got to leave some dough over the rim of your pie plate, so the top has something to stick to,” she said. “Otherwise your filling will ooze out all over the place.”
Shields asked the class why a pie needs vents.
“So it doesn’t explode!” one student yelled out. Everyone laughed.
About 30 minutes after the first hairnets were unfolded, the pies were taking shape.
The pies were baked in the school’s convection oven and the students got to take their own pie home at the end of the day.