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My husband surprised me with a very special birthday gift last weekend. Two summers ago, Alli and I watched The American Baking Competition (the US version of the very popular British show) and fell in love with one of the competitors, Francine Bryson. She was funny, down to earth, as Southern as they come – and from a small town not 30 minutes from where we live! Francine did very well on the show and was the first runner up. She is now a hometown celebrity with her own cookbook, Blue Ribbon Baking from a Redneck Kitchen (and a new book coming out soon!).
Here’s where the birthday surprise comes in. Francine offers “At Home With Francine Baking Parties,” where she brings all the ingredients to your home and teaches you and your friends how to create whatever dessert you want to make! Paul decided I needed a Francine Baking Party for my birthday and planned for months, invited my family and friends and completely overwhelmed me with his thoughtfulness! He arranged for my mom and sister to take me out for lunch on Saturday. When we arrived home after lunch, I found several of my friends and family at my house…and Francine!
We spent the next few hours learning from the expert. Francine taught us to make her no-fail pie crust, which we then filled with the wonderful ingredients that make Derby Pie. I love to cook and bake but have always been averse to the sticky, messy dough involved in making pie crust. Francine made me roll up my sleeves and put me to work on the pie crust. Thankfully, her technique yielded a mess-free, forgiving and workable dough! Here are a few shots from the afternoon:
Alli got in on the fun – she’s an excellent baker (one of the reasons I miss having her live with me!). 🙂 We all stood around and talked about pie (while waiting for it come out of the oven already!), quoted Steel Magnolias and got some behind the scenes stories about life on a competition show! At last, the moment we’d all been waiting for. Pie. If you can believe this, it was even better than it looks.
Francine graciously agreed to let me share the recipe for her super simple pie crust!
Frannie’s Lard Crust
- 3/4 C butter flavored shortening
- 2 1/4 C flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 Tbl. sugar (I only use 1 Tablespoon – I like a saltier crust)
- 1/2 C water
Blend shortening and flour with pastry blender till chunks of fat are blended (you want chunks the size of butter beans). Add water and stir with a fork until combined. If the dough is too dry, add water one teaspoon at a time until the dough forms a ball. Flatten the dough into a disk, cover with plastic wrap and chill in fridge 20 minutes. Roll out onto a floured surface and transfer to a pie dish for baking.
We had the best time learning from Francine! She’s so funny (and you know I love funny people!) and makes herself right at home. If you live in the Upstate of South Carolina and would like to book an “At Home with Francine Baking Party,” you can contact her at bakewithfrancine at yahoo dot com. You can find more details on Francine’s Facebook page.
I can’t thank my sweet hubby enough for the incredible afternoon with my friends, family and Francine!
This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. “Frannie’s Lard Crust” recipe appears courtesy of Francine Bryson and is not owned by me.