Beth Howard teaches pie making classes inside the famous American Gothic House, located in Eldon, Iowa. Classes include a tour of the private residence, pie-making instruction in the kitchen and dining room of the 130-year-old farmhouse depicted in Grant Wood’s iconic painting, and a “victory shot” in front of the house posing in American Gothic costumes with pies and pitchforks.
Classes also include all ingredients, use of pie-making supplies (from aprons to rolling pins), pie tins, and bakery boxes for transporting pies.
All participants leave with their own finished apple pie.
Recipe for a Pie Class
Classes in the American Gothic House can accommodate up to 10 people. Participants sign up as a group, though occasionally classes for individual sign up are offered. Allow up to 4 hours for a class. All you have to do is show up. Please wear short sleeves, hair tied back, and keep jewelry to a minimum. Your hands will be working with dough. Cost is $80 per person.
To schedule a class email email@example.com or call 310-463-6294
UPDATE: The next available dates for pie classes are JULY 31 and AUGUST 14. Summer classes are held on Wednesdays. No weekend dates until September because of the Pitchfork Pie Stand.
Now you can pay for a class — or give a gift certificate of a pie class – using PayPal. Just click on the “Add to Cart” button below the class photo.
Beth is also available for corporate meetings, trade shows, cooking demos, book clubs, and various other events. Contact for details.
Making Pie is as…Well, Easy as Pie!
Butter or lard? How long do I knead the dough? How many apples? Flour or cornstarch to thicken? How do I keep the dough from sticking or cracking? How do you get that shiny glaze on top? How do I know when my pie is done? These are some of the many questions Howard answers in her pie lessons. She will demystify the art of making dough, help you become a whiz at rolling out a thin crust, and you will leave with your confidence so buoyed you will never, ever buy that pre-made stuff from the store again!
Remember, pie is not about perfection! Pie should look homemade. So just go for it and have fun.
Three tips for easy dough: 1) Use enough water so your dough is pliable (dry dough cracks and is hard to roll), 2) Don’t overwork the dough or it will become too tough to roll, 3) Use flour liberally when rolling to keep it from sticking.
Beth’s Apple Pie Recipe
Basic Pie Crust
2-1/2 cups flour (white all-purpose)
1/2 cup butter, chilled
1/2 cup Crisco
Dash of salt
Ice water (fill one cup but use only enough to moisten dough)
In a deep bowl, work the butter and shortening into the flour with your hands until you see marble-sized lumps form. Think mixed nuts, but no bigger than almonds. Add ice water a little at a time, sort of “fluffing” the flour. Keep your movements light, as if you are tossing dressing into a salad with your hands. When the dough feels moistened enough, do a “squeeze test” and when it holds together you’re done. Do not overwork the dough! It takes very little time and you’ll be tempted to keep touching it, but don’t! Now divide the dough in two, form each half into a disk shape and roll flat and thin to fit your pie dish. Sprinkle flour under and on top of your dough, and keep rolling surface and pin free from gunk to keep dough from sticking. Trim excess dough to about 1 inch from the dish edge with a scissors.
7 large Granny Smith apples, peeled (depending on size of apple & size of pie dish, have about 3 lbs. available)
*It’s also okay to use a variety of apples, try Braeburn and Royal Gala. Do not use Fuji or Delicious, they are too juicy and have no taste. Approximate rule of thumb is 3 pounds of fruit per pie.
3/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons flour
Dash of salt
1 to 2 teaspoons cinnamon (depending on how much you like)
1 tablespoon butter (put dollop on top before covering with top crust)
1 beaten egg (you won’t use all of it, just enough to brush on pie before baking)
Slice half of the apples directly into the pie, arranging to remove extra space between slices. Cover with half of your other ingredients (sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt), then slice the remaining apples and cover with second half of ingredients. Add dollop of butter on top, cover with top crust, seal and crimp edges, then brush with beaten egg (this gives the pie a nice golden brown shine; be careful not to let egg pool in crevices.) Use a knife to poke vent holes in the top (get creative here with a pattern), then bake at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Turn oven down to 375 degrees and bake for another 30 to 40 minutes until juice bubbles. Keep an eye on it as it bakes. If it gets too brown turn down the temperature. To be sure it’s done, poke with a knife to make sure apples have softened. Do not over bake or apples will turn mushy.
“This was one of the most enjoyable afternoons I’ve had in ages — and the best looking pie I’ve ever made! Thanks!” — Oma Blaise Ford, Senior Deputy Editor/Home Design, Better Homes and Gardens
“I had a great time last night. You did an excellent job. I’d much rather be baking pie this morning than working on a 50-slide Powerpoint presentation.” — Julia Beck, Marketing Manager, Daimler Trucks North America
“My sister was so impressed with my pie, I may make another tonight for my friend who just had a baby. Your pie making lessons are having a ‘ripple effect’ on the world.” — Jennifer Anderson, Senior Reporter, Portland Tribune Newspaper.
“My pie is DELICIOUS – if I do say so myself. Thanks for the great evening and for the introduction to the world of pie.” — Susanne Flother, Co-founder, Somnium Mattresses
“I wanted to thank you for taking the time and teaching us ladies how to bake. You are absolutely wonderful.” — Eliana Pianko, Financial Advisor, Morgan Stanley
“It really was a fun party and I found it incredibly relaxing — a nice escape from daily life!” — Frauke Venema, HR Manager, Daimler AG
“Best apple pie I ever tasted — and I made it myself.” — Melissa Forman, TV producer