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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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Reader Comments (14)

holy moly! Did he make those popovers in Chernobyl? they are HUGE!

That's not so say I wouldn't tackle one with confidence.

March 24 | Unregistered Commenterdanamccauley

Those look delicious! It makes me miss living in Boston, I never got a chance to visit Martha's Vineyard. :( Apple and cheese sounds like a weird but tasty combination.

March 24 | Unregistered CommenterJulienne

Idyllic New England life, pie, great answers, sparkable bread puddin'...ALL OVER IT! Fun interview...Erik gave some GREAT answers! Thanks!

March 25 | Unregistered CommenterUncle Beefy

Great interview and it certainly makes me wonder if popovers are the new cupcake?? =)

March 25 | Unregistered CommenterAnne-Marie

Dana: I know, I wouldn't mind tackling one of those babies.

Julienne: oh man! It's a great place. Some of my relatives live there and it's really pretty.

Uncle Beefy: It was a fun interview, wasn't it? Erik is pretty much the coolest!

Anne-Marie: That wouldn't be such a bad thing. They have such a fun name and are so delicious! :-)

March 25 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy

Cheese and apple pie are also a very French-Canadian thing as well. My father and family are all from a small village in Quebec and they all eat apple pie with a slice of cheese on top. They say everyone up there does this. It is very delicious- especially with a slice of extra sharp cheddar. Yum!

March 25 | Unregistered CommenterLife out Here

I'd never heard of cheese & apple pie until this interview. Sounds like a strange combination, but fruit is common-place on cheese platters, especially apple slices & grapes. So I guess it'd work :)

I'd never heard of a popover until this interview either...you learn something new every day!! :)

Thanks Jessie (and Erik!) :)

March 25 | Unregistered CommenterLiv

we have a pie in the sky in erie! but it's dessert + lunch. very fun place!

March 26 | Unregistered Commenterj*amy

Oh man, they aren't too far from here! I might just have to forget this gluten diet for just one day...with the hopes that my tummy won't hate me after, and dive right in. Wow, so much gluteny goodness :D.

March 27 | Unregistered CommenterSophie

My Wisconsin-born Slovak grandmother always served cheese with her apple strudel. Isn't that how everyone does it?

March 31 | Unregistered Commenterclass-factotum

I go there all the time (I consider myself to "half live there", actually) when i visit my dad and gramma in WH. They have good smoothies and coffee, too.
I couldn't believe my eyes when my sister sent me the link to this.
I miss WH!

April 5 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Pie in the Sky is our favorite bakery!!! They make incredible tasty treats.

April 5 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Life Out Here: Interesting! I never knew it was a French Canadian preference as well.

Liv: Yay! Happy to introduce you to some new sweets and ways to eat them!

J*amy: It must be a good name if both places are good! :-)

Sophie: You must! So worth it. ;-)

Class-factotum: I guess not! But if it's delicious, maybe everyone should try it!

Anonymous: Awesome!! So glad to bring some happy memories to you. Hope you get to visit Erik soon!

Anonymous: So happy to feature one of your favorites!

April 6 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy

We LOVE Pie in the Sky Bakery!!! It is one of the things we look forward to when we visit Woods Hole. The food is amazingly delicious: the bread pudding, the blueberry pie, the brioche, the almond croissants... Yum! I can't wait until we go again in July.

May 20 | Unregistered CommenterC.
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