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Tuesday
Oct192010

Sweet Profiles: Wendy Sykes of Four and Twenty Blackbirds

If you're a professional CakeSpy, basically when it comes to anything sweet, you always want the backstory. So when Wendy Sykes (AKA Four and 20 Blackbirds) entered her prize-winning Rhueberry Pie in the Cake Vs. Pie faceoff, basically I had to know more. Turns out, she's not only a tremendous baker, but has recently launched a business where she will teach you how to make delicious pies, too!

Here's a bit more of the story, directly from the source!

I've always been an big baker, but my entire professional life was spent as a journalist/public radio producer. (most recently at Marketplace, but Seattleites might remember my first show, Rewind.)


Recently, I was between jobs (like sooooooo many) and I was baking and entertaining and cooking a lot.  Friends kept asking me questions about the things I made, how to do this and that - but they seemed especially befuddled by and intimidated by pie crust.


I gave a few classes for fun, to a group of friends and it just spread from there!


I really like it - it's a great fit for my personality (as it turns out, teaching is not so different from producing) and I love seeing how proud people are when they make their own little pie!


I teach the classes out of my home in Ravenna and keep them small (8-10) so everyone gets hands-on instruction. I really think that's key - you have to feel and touch the pastry dough to know how it's supposed to be. So many people in class say, "Ohhhh - that's how it should feel!"


The setting also makes for a really fun, relaxed event - it's more like having your friend teach you something, rather than learning from an "instructor."  Since I'm not a trained professional (I joke that I went to The Culinary Institute of My Mom) people seemed more apt to ask questions, joke around, be silly.


The most important thing that I want people to leave class with is confidence. I want them to know that they can do this at home. Confidence is key - because pie crust is just like dogs and horses - it can smell fear.


I have some class descriptions on my blog as well on my site; I do the pie classes, (also one for parents and kids) and then cookie classes as well. I've been making this certain sugar cookie forever and decorating them. I teach people all the little tricks to ice the cookies as well.  The cookies are so good - which is important to me, cuz sometimes those really adorable decorated sweets taste just ungodly - they're made more for looks than taste.

Want yet more? You are urged to visit fourand20blackbirds.com.

Reader Comments (1)

Thanks for doing a post on pie. It's really a proud feeling to have your "own little pie", and that lattice crust looks pro. I don't have an oven for now, but when I do I'll by flying pie. :P Apple with thick slices is my favorite so far, but there should be more experimentation with pie flavors...like bread, it's very very versatile.
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