For those who spend hours piecing together ripped pie dough, cutting fingers slicing apples, wiping flour off the kitchen floor come Thanksgiving, it’s time to take a trip to First Lutheran Christian School.
This is the 15th year the parents at the school have come together to do their pie fundraiser.
They’re baking 2,500 pies in one week.
“We have a website and you can order online and we will drop them off,” said pie committee chairwoman Jennifer Monaghan on Tuesday from the school’s kitchen.
Monaghan was kind enough to give the Capital News a pie baking lesson to show the community how their small group can get so many pies out the door so quickly. To say we got schooled would be an understatement.
With three shifts a day, a pastry master who was a baker for eight years and 15 years of assembly line experience under their collective wing, the school’s pie sale committee has their secret recipe for success down to a science—although with a few very up-to-date surprises.
In addition to their online ordering (www.flcs.ca), for example, they offer apple pies in sugarless and regular, and the regular only have one cup of sugar for a baker’s mixing bowl of apple filling.
Shifts of volunteers pick seven bins of apples, 800 pounds each, over three picking shifts, and a small band of peelers then slice and dice the apples in a tent stationed outside the kitchen door—sadly, this year, in the rain.
The pie dough is made ahead of time using dough master Alf Ruf’s recipe. Now 83 years old, he’s a member of the Lutheran Church, which shares a building with the school, and was a baker before expanding into groceries during his wage-earning years.
The slabs of dough he oversees are measured on a scale with specific sizes for tops and bottoms, and the rolling pin assembly line then ensures the pies have a solid base for a mound of apples.
The filling has flour and cinnamon and sugar, depending on the variety.
“Everybody has their own way of finishing the edges,” said Monaghan.
They chose to go with pinched edges, using thumbs only, for a ruffled effect. Each pie is bagged and tagged with baking instructions and carefully filed on a cart.
With only 67 students in the school and 40 in the preschool programs, one might imagine sales and delivery would not be so brisk, but the school has a solution for that too. They offer deals.
Buy five pies and one is free; most buy the set and put the extra into the freezer. At $8 a pie, this year’s efforts should bring about $10,000, largely to put toward end-of-year field trips and enriched sports programs.
The school focuses on the lifestyle sports—skiing, curling, yoga—that one might do in adulthood, over things like dodgeball.
The Grade 7 students, who will be spending their last year at the school, are off to the country’s capital city, and the Grade 5 and Grade 6 students will likely head to camp, though sometimes they go to Vancouver.
The fundraiser also purchases art supplies for the preschool programs—there’s a full-time pre-Kindergarten and part-time preschool, depending on parents’ preference, and in-house daycare.
As for the age-old question—butter, Crisco or lard?—apparently Ruf’s time-honoured recipe calls for lard; although the pastry makers won’t give away all their secrets.
To buy a pie, email firstname.lastname@example.org or go the website www.flcs.ca. Students will also be going door to door selling the pies as well.