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:
CakeSpy: Why Pie?
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.
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…
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…
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…??
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…
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.