Self-Taught Baker Helen Nugent Creates Stunning Pie Designs Like You’ve Never Seen Before
I think we can all agree that we’ll always have room for pie no matter how stuffed we get after powering through all the dishes on Thanksgiving. And while baking a pie is as easy as… well… pie, this crazily talented, self-taught baker’s incredible pie designs just might inspire you to take your own baking game to a whole new level. Meet Helen Nugent: she started baking as a hobby but her superb designs paved the way for her to carve out an amazing journey in the food industry. In an interview, the baker said,
“I have baked as a hobby of most of my life. My mother was, and still is, an excellent baker so all the credit for any skill I possess goes to her. My career has been in corporate communications and I never thought about following baking as a career path. At the same time, I was feeling very burnt out with my career and looking for a new direction.”
According to Helen, she didn’t actually plan to create a career out of her hobby
In fact, she used to work in a corporate setting. But it eventually took a toll on her. Naturally, this led to some serious soul searching for Helen. And in the end, she decided to leave her corporate communications career behind and go for something that made her genuinely happy.
Self-taught baker Helen Nugent creates pie designs so stunning that it’s almost a shame to cut them
It’s no secret that Pinterest is our go-to when we’re looking for inspiration for literally anything like DIY craft projects and recipes. And most of the time, a quick 10-minute browse can turn into several hours because there’s just so many neat ideas to discover! Helen is no different. She shared that she would look at decorative pie designs on Pinterest during her free time. And when she’d stumble upon something really interesting, Helen would start trying to figure out how to do it herself. Eventually, she got really good at creating visually stunning pies without relying on Pinterest inspiration. So, then she began sharing her work on social media.
“That led to doing work for Food Network which led to a book offer which led to a new career! I know social media gets a bad rap but sometimes great things can come from it. I’m living proof of that.”
Helen’s Instagram page, @batterednbaked, currently has over 53,000 followers. As you would expect, Helen shares her stunning pie designs and delicious recipes on the page. But if you’re looking for more detailed instructions, you can visit her blog or buy a copy of her book, Pie Style.
Helen has a book that features all her amazing pie designs and recipes
Part of Helen’s motivation for launching the book is because she wanted to help her fellow messy kitchen makers learn how to make gorgeous pie designs easily. She believes that the baker should enjoy the process of baking the pie itself, rather than just looking forward to the finished product. You’ll definitely pick up plenty of useful tips and lessons from Pie Style. Take this for example:
“A good pie starts with an all-butter crust. No Crisco pies for me. While pies made with shortening are very flaky, they have no taste. A good all-butter pie dough has all the taste with a crisp and flaky crust.”
Level up your baking skills with the help of Helen’s book
More often than not, beginner bakers find themselves intimidated by the works of seasoned pros. And sometimes, this leads to the abandonment of an endeavour. This is something that Helen hopes to lessen by giving her readers easy-to-follow pie recipes and step-by-step pie design guides. She noted that she decided to include a step-by-step decorating guide in her book because she noticed that most pie books usually just focus on the pie recipes and forego the decorating part. She said:
“I wanted to create reliable recipes that delivered consistent results but also wanted to give people practical techniques to help them create pies that were beautiful as well.”
This baker wanted her book to focus on decoration as well as taste
“A lot of pie books focus on recipes but don’t spend a lot of time describing how to create the ‘looks’. This book includes really delicious recipes but also a step-by-step approach to creating all the decorations in the book. Users are encouraged to mix and match the decoration styles to create pies that are all their own.”
Helen says that the type of dough you use is key for making a stunning design on your pie
“Pie dough shouldn’t cause you to lose your mind. I love my food processor because it makes pie dough quickly and easily and it works every time. And it tastes great. Is a pie made by hand a little bit flakier? Sure, but pie dough with chunks of butter in it does not work well for latticing, cutting, decorating, or fine details. Food processor dough is smooth, pliable, and homogenous so it’s easy to work with. And it’s stress-free, so you can be successful at it.”
“‘A good pie is one you are proud of,’ Julia Child always said. ‘No matter what happens in the kitchen, never apologize.’ Don’t compare your pie to others or apologize to your friends and family if it isn’t perfect. Making pie is a huge accomplishment so celebrate it.”
The source of her stunning designs may surprise you
In a way, we can consider Helen as a pie artist because her pie designs are edible art. But instead of canvas, she uses dough, and instead of using paint, she uses egg wash! And more often than not, her pies feature astonishingly adorable details like dainty flowers, leaves and neat latticework. In addition to this, she also makes use of the pie’s filling or some colored bits of dough to make her edible art pop even more! When asked where she gets her ideas, she said:
“I get ideas from things like floor tiles, ceiling mosaics, clothing patterns, and plaster medallions. A walk in the woods will inspire with bark designs and leaf patterns. Inspiration comes from all around us but we really have to look up, down, and all around. Inspiration is everywhere.”
Helen wants to teach other bakers not to be intimidated by recipes
The intricacy of her designs are incredibly intriguing and may be intimidating for greenhorns. But don’t despair if you can’t decorate your pie as well as Helen can. It’s important to remember that she didn’t immediately create amazing designs. Talent is nothing without hard work, after all!
“Start with smaller, simpler decorations like cut-outs,” she said. “As you gain confidence, take on more decorative techniques like latticing and braiding. There is no standard.”
So what are you waiting for? Order a copy of Helen’s book here! Wow your family with an extra-special pie design this Thanksgiving! Come to think of it, this will also make a great Christmas present to the baker (budding or seasoned) in your life. So don’t wait!