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Tuesday
Mar242009

Batter Chatter: Interview with Erik of Pie in the Sky

Pie in the Sky interview
Woods Hole, Massachusetts is an interesting little town, home to a well-known biological laboratory, the port from which ferries depart to that rich-kid playground called Martha's Vineyard...and possibly most importantly, home to a little bakery called Pie in the Sky. Owner Erik Gura has been baking from the same location for over 20 years--with that type of expertise, when he talks, you listen. We recently caught up with Erik and got to address many important aspects of living the sweet life in a tourist town, as well as gaining some insight on that strange New England phenomenon of apple pie with cheese; here's what we learned:

Pie in the Sky
CakeSpy: Why Pie? 
Erik Gura: She spoke to me. She told me she wanted to be the vehicle for our culinary expressions & I believed her. Some days I feel like the good bus driver, carefully making all the stops, smiling faces everywhere. Some days I try to stop the runaway bus, usually with mixed results….either way. I get excited to fire up every morning & go for that ride.

Pie in the Sky, Woods Hole MA
CS: You're located close to the ferry to Martha's Vineyard. What do you think is the best pie to take on ferry rides?
EG: One from Pie in the Sky, of course! Blueberry’s my pick, despite the potential for ruining lightly colored summer clothes.

Pie in the Sky, Woods Hole MAPie in the Sky, Woods Hole MA

CS: Do you notice a difference in baked good preference between locals and tourists?
EG: Locals praise value & consistency in all areas of Pie. They like little things, day in & day out. Tourists tend to buy like they are embarking on a 6 week sea voyage. …Do you have any Popovers? “Yes” OK… “How many would you like?” Oh, …all of them…

CS: What is the most important aspect of making a great pie?
EG: There is no one critical aspect to a good Pie. Rather, it is the physical manifestation of careful years of training & practice, coupled with a disciplined execution of each & every small detail in the process that comes from the heart and hands of a passionate baker. Oh, and keep both your fat & your water COLD. & don’t over mix!

CS: I've been told that since I love cream pies better than fruit pies, I'm not a "true" pie connoisseur. What are your thoughts on this important issue?
EG: My mom says there’s no accounting for taste….I use that one a lot…

Apple pie and cheese: Better together!
CS: Can you shed any light on the phenomenon of cheese on apple pie for us?
EG: Back where my Great Grandfather was born, in the St. Lawrence River valley, there were a lot of both cows & apples. The way my Grandma told it, it was only a matter of time before they got together. My family has New England roots that span back 300 years & to the best of my knowledge, everyone for generations enjoyed the combo, especially for breakfast. Portable, delicious, & packed with enough goodness to get you through till lunch…Ideally you’d get it warmed before you left the house, wrapped in waxed paper for snacking a bit later…works best with day old pie…

Pie in the Sky, Woods Hole MA
CS: You also offer some breakfast items, but we're curious: what's the difference between a popover and brioche?
EG: Volume. With Brioche, you add flour to butter until you can bake it. If you add too much flour, you create something with the consistency of a baseball. With Popovers, you whip up a thin batter & then bake it in a hot oven so it blows up like a balloon. Not enough heat or whipping and you create something with the consistency of a baseball.

CS: Be honest...if someone came into your cafe and said they were on a low-carb diet, what would happen?
EG: We encounter all sorts of dietary constraints on a daily basis…We do the very best with what we have to offer & sometimes there’s just no makin’ it…I’ve noticed some folks actually just want to talk to a real live baker. Like all specialized diets, the low carb thing is a challenge. I suggest sharing…after all, it’s healthy food for an active lifestyle.. Did I mention we stock Sprite Zero…and Diet Dr. Pepper…and Tab…??

Pie in the Sky, Woods Hole MA
CS: Since we can't be in Woods Hole at the moment to taste it at the moment, can you please describe the glory that is your bread pudding?
EG: Our Bread Pudding with Black Rum Hard Sauce is about 16 ounces of hot, rum and butter soaked- goodness that is only improved with a slathering of real whipped cream – or -- vanilla ice cream, dealer’s choice…also good for sharing…there’s a good visual on the website…It will burn if you put a spark to it….not for kids…

Pie in the Sky, Woods Hole MA
CS: What do you see as the emerging trends in the world of baked goods / desserts?
EG: I think there is currently a growing appreciation in this country for artisan quality locally fresh created food of all types. A bit of a run on sentence. I know, but I’m a baker, strong like bull, smart like tractor.

CS: What's next for Pie in the Sky?
EG: Naptime! All bakers enjoy a good napperoo…..that, and a second story on my tiny building…and a roast beef sandwich on toasted white bread with extra extra mayo, pickles, onions, & tomatoes & a little fresh ground pepper…hopefully more correspondence with the Cakespy crew…it’s kinda an open-ended question…

Hungry for more? For further insight & additional goodness, check out the Pie in the Sky website at www.woodshole.com/pie--make sure to keep up to date with the “Pie in the News” tab. 

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