I Have “Pie” Hopes…

There is something about a pie that just makes me feel good.  Beautiful flaky crust, sky high meringue or whipped cream topped, pie is an amazing dessert.  Fruit pies, custard pies, cream pies, hand pies; they are all wonderful.

My relationship with pie, however, is a Love/Hate one.  As much as I love pie, it is the bane of by baking existence.

Okay, maybe that is a bit of an over dramatic description, but I have the worst time with pies.  And it’s not a specific thing, like trouble with the crust; it’s the whole process.

Even when the crust turns out flaky and wonderful, the filling doesn’t set.  Or I have a wonderfully set lemon curd, and the meringue weeps.  I just can’t win.

And, of course, my pie dysfunction extends to cobbler.  My grandmother Frances (of cinnamon roll fame) made the most amazing peach cobbler. The crust was sweet and crunchy, with a fresh peach filling that tasted like a warm summer day.

For years I asked her for the recipe. And for years, I never got the recipe. So I bought frozen cobbler and served to my family with more than a little shame. What was so wrong with me that I cannot make even a simple cobbler?

Fast forward to the summer of 2009 at my nephews wedding. Sitting with Grandma Frances at a picnic table, in a park, in a small town in southeastern Colorado. I was just beginning my official journey into the world of pastries by enrolling for the pastry arts program at a school in Las Vegas. I mentioned that maybe I would be able to make a pie after going to pastry school.

This struck my grandmother as very funny. “Kelley, you don’t have to go to school to learn to make pie, you have seen me do it”. I very gingerly asked her again for her peach cobbler recipe, and with a genuine look of shock, she replied “Just sink the crust”.

It was then that my cobbler life changed. I have to admit, it was a pretty anticlimactic change. The sky did not open to reveal a host of Heavenly beings singing Hallelujah, the earth did not tremble. No visible indication that I had just received the secret I had been asking for.

But there it was, the answer to one of the secrets of my universe, “just sink the crust”. Of course I couldn’t wait to have an excuse to make a cobbler. Who am I kidding, absolutely no-one needs an excuse to make cobbler. And every time it is perfect. Tender peaches, with just the right amount of syrup-y goodness. covered in that crispy, sweet crust. It is delicious, but still not quite the same as Grandmas.

Grandma would have been 97 years old on May 5th this year, and I know, without a doubt, that she is shaking her head every time I make a cobbler, and laughing as I “just sink the crust”.

Sugar, Butter and Dough, Oh My

I am an Oklahoma born Kansas girl… and proud of it.  I fully (and sometimes aggressively) love my home state(s).  I will proudly respond SOONER whenever I hear someone yell BOOMER, and I sit on the edge of my seat when the Jayhawks are dominating the court during March Madness.  Over my 50 years, I have managed to walk the state lines and live in both worlds.

But, without exception, my all time favorite movie is ALL KANSAS.  I will watch The Wizard of Oz every time it’s on, singing along with every song; saying my favorite lines right along with the characters.  The innocence and powerfully simple message of this movie just makes me happy.


I have lived many places since I left Kansas for good more than 20 years ago;  but no matter where I live, Kansas is home, and, of course, “There’s no place like Home”.

But it wasn’t until I left home, that I discovered many of the foods that I love now.  The first place I travelled that truly impacted me culinarily was New Orleans.  As a 17 year old, the fruits and pastries I was offered every morning on that trip, made me realize that the world was much bigger than my little corner of Kansas.  And in the 30+ years since, I have eaten my way through many regions of this great country.

Somewhere along the way, I fell in love with pastries.  Flaky, delicate, crisp croissants and sweet, fruit filled danish fill me (both figuratively and literally) with joy.  So when I took my first pastry class in culinary school, I was over the moon excited to learn to make croissants and danish.  The visions I had in my head of spending my Sunday mornings with a fresh croissant and hot cup of coffee, made me so happy.

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Needless to say, those visions didn’t include the rigorous process that making laminated doughs without commercial equipment entails.  Mixing, chilling, rolling, locking in the butter.  Then it’s roll, fold, chill; roll, fold, chill; roll, fold, chill, and finally roll, form, proof and bake. That’s a lot of work, my forearms and shoulders ache just typing it all.   But it can be done.  After all, croissants were a staple in some countries long before dough sheeters were made.

Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the ability to make the required number of turns in a matter of minutes rather than hours, but no matter which way I get to make the dough, I enjoy doing it.  And it is so worth it.


My “yellow brick road” of rambling tidbits about home and pastries has come to a point.  About 6 months into Lavender Box Bakery being open, we put out a challenge to a local foodie group to let us know what dessert, cookie or bread they had fond memories of, and we would pick some to start offering in the bakery.  Two  of these suggestions a “lobster tail” and Kouign-Amann.

Kouign-Amann, very interesting.  The name was impossible to pronounce without help (pronounced kween ah-mon),  but literally translated from it’s Breton name to “Butter Cake”.   Butter Cake, can’t go wrong with that,  now can I?  Uh, NO, I can’t.

So I got down to business.  And, believe it or not, I go it right on the first try.  Buttery, crispy and sugary; it is OMG Amazing.


Sugar is layered in with the butter, and when it bakes it caramelizes and, when you bite in, you get that flaky crumble of a croissant along with that sweet caramelized sugar.  It is a truly amazing food moment.

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In my humble opinion, you can never go wrong with sugar, butter and dough.  There is just something so inkredibly wonderful about the way a kouign amann shatters when pulled apart; with flaky of shards of caramelized sugar coated bread falling all over your shirt like a sweet shower of yummy.  Oh my, I think my glutton is showing.  That’s okay.  It’s worth it.

So, my advice to you today is run, don’t walk to your nearest bakery and GET YOURSELF A KOUIGN AMANN.  If they don’t make the, try another bakery, and another, and another, until you find them.  If you can’t find them, well you are in luck.  My next blog post will have the recipe and detailed directions.