Tip #42 from Karen, Pie Maker Extraordinaire: Keep Your [butter] Cool.”

That’s right, folks! Another baking tip from Our Lady of the Pie, Karen Olson, to signal that, yes, Charity Pie Night is This Friday! Read on for this month’s words-o’-wisdom:

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It isn’t always easy to remember where things began, particularly as more beginnings happen every day. When it comes to this one trick of pie baking however, I know almost exactly where it began. A little more than a decade ago, Linda Olson (a.k.a. Mom) was gearing up once again for hosting the family Thanksgiving dinner–no small feat, mind you–and what is a mother of three lazy daughters to do with so many tasks at hand? DELEGATE! Who really knows or remembers what was doled out to Lisa and Kim that fateful year, but I happened to tell my mother I would like to take over making the pumpkin pie. And fate sealed itself.

Anyway, I am pretty sure I am supposed to be writing a pie tip in here somewhere and not my small piece of history… so thank you for your patience with my lead-in, and now on to the pointer! It was that day, my mother taught me what her grandmother had taught her: the key to a beautiful and flaky crust is to keep your butter cold! Keeping your butter cold allows for those lovely, little butter pockets in the dough to come together in the mixing process, and once placed in a warm oven, they will expand and create a melt in your mouth crust which would complement any filling your heart desires. I am pretty sure, after 10 plus years of baking, that there is some level of science to this tip, but for me, the proof is in the pie crust.

Now go forth, experiment, and keep it cool Phoenix!

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If you’d like to see/smell/taste the evidence, this Friday, February 28th, is Charity Pie Night! The feature charity this month is Arizona Basset Hound Rescue! Click through the Charity Pie Night link for the Facebook event, or visit our website for more details: www.practical-art.com.

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Tip #127 from Karen, Pie Maker Extraordinaire: Go forth with confidence!

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Fourth Friday is that special night where Phoenix descends on Practical Art to taste the delicious, slice-o’-heaven offerings created by Karen Olson, of Vonceil’s Pies, at our monthly Share of the Pie: Charity Night. Each month, to benefit a local organization doing some local good, Karen crafts about a dozen artisan-style pies with names like “Hipster Apple Pie”, “Mexican Chocolate”, and “Gouda-Crusted Pear Cardamom”. She’s become something of a local celebrity, participating annually in the Roosevelt Row Pie Social and regularly lending her expertise to Treehouse Bakery, so we’ve asked her to share some tips to help you all in your baking endeavors and to getcha pumped for this Friday.

For this regular feature, she’ll have tips on techniques and tools, how to “get your mind in the game”, and other notes on creating pies that’ll have you back to the fridge for leftovers at midnight (if there ARE any leftovers that is!).

Here is this month’s tip from her mental sourcebook of Ways To Do It Right:

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“Go forth with confidence.When starting out as a beginning baker, it can be very challenging to be sure you are doing everything right. Should I heavily flour the counter top? And my rolling pin? Do I mix everything together or do I mix all the dry and all the wet ingredients separately? I have heard many people say they love to cook because it is more of an art while baking is more of a science, but the truth is – confidence is the real key to baking success. I have to credit the lovely Amanda Sizemore from Treehouse Bakery for this lovely tip. Just a few days ago she reminded me of this fact as I was dirty icing my first Huge cake! If you allow the task at hand to seem too challenging it will become too challenging for you to accomplish. Yes, adding a dash too much of salt can ruin a baked good and never would hurt a good soup, but with the right mind set from the start, any baker will know how to adjust appropriately. Sometimes you just have to start from scratch. And, there is no better day to start practicing than today!”

Tune in next month for another tip (and to find out what ‘dirty icing’ is! Inquiring minds (mine) wanna know.).

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If you wanna taste WHY you should be listening and taking her advice, make sure to come by this Friday for January’s Pie Social, benefiting The Buck Truck! From 7-9pm, January 24th, we’ll be here with pies at the ready! Feel free to bring your own plate, or purchase a handmade one here on the spot, to help us keep things eco-friendly!