No matter how much of a modern mom you are, it never hurts to have a little June Cleaver in your repertoire. And given the recent passing of the lovely actress Barbara Billingsley (who played the quintessential housewife on Leave it to Beaver), a new baking school biz seems only apropos. Former journalist, self-taught baker and mom Wendy Sykes started Four and 20 Blackbirds with the goal of teaching Seattle kids and parents how to make the perfect pie.

Sykes’ business was born when friends asked for her pie crust recipe. Holding court in the kitchen of her Ravenna home, she now offers parents and kids pie classes (and sugar cookies, too). Each session starts with the bakers sampling the type of pie they’re making that day. Sykes demonstrates how to use tools and explains the science of pie crust; then it’s hands-on – students learn how to combine, mix and roll out the dough, make filling, and cover the pie.

“Kids are great at it,” Sykes says. “They don’t have any preconceived notions that making piecrust is hard. They just go for it.”  Of course, everyone leaves with their own gorgeous pie to take home – rhubarb and pumpkin are flavors of choice right now. Sykes believes the economic downturn has revived the interest in making things from scratch.  The pie, she says, is the new cupcake.  “A cupcake seems rather fancy and pink and frothy and singular. A pie is home-spun, simple and made to share.” Oh, how Mrs. Cleaver would approve.

Classes are $70 for 1 parent and 1 child. Find a class schedule and more info at

-Kavita Varma-White