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Entries in pie (34)

Friday
Feb042011

Stick It: LolliPies by A La Mode Pies, Seattle

So, earlier this week I headed over to the Center of the Universe (aka Fremont, Seattle) for a secret spy assignment: namely, to eat pie at newly-opened Pie.

Little did I know that even more pie would be in my future. After Twittering that I'd just visited Pie, I received a message from nearby Blue Moon Burgers saying "you should come try our LolliPies!".

Um, OK.

So I walked over and what should I find at this burger joint but a beautiful display of pocket pies on sticks! Now, these aren't Pie Pops like the baby-ones I made for Serious Eats a while back--these are respectably, bigger-than-a-fist-sized pies on not so much of a popsicle stick, more like a tongue depressor. 

They had a few flavors available--I chose the "Blue Hawaiian", which I knew was a specialty.

On a stick, this already-good pie is positively genius. The higher crust-to-filling ratio allows the eater to attain a heightened state of carb-o-loading bliss, and the blueberry-pineapple-coconut filling was rich and sweet enough to stand up to all that delicious crust. Nice detail: it was topped with more toasty coconut on top.

Of course, it got even better when I topped it with a jaunty dollop of freshly whipped cream.

LolliPies by A La Mode Pies, available at Blue Moon Burgers and various other locations; learn more at A La Mode Pies.

 

Thursday
Feb032011

Small But Mighty: Mini Mini Pies from Pie, Fremont, Seattle

Fremont, Seattle, is the center of the universe. Well, if you trust street signs and locals, that is. 

And for pie lovers, the new epicenter is Pie, a pint-sized shop specializing in small pies both sweet and savory. They just opened but have already been featured in the Seattle Times, The Stranger (by the inimitable Megan Seling), and now on CakeSpy.

The pies are available in two sizes: mini (cupcake sized) and mini mini (thumbprint sized). I got the mini-mini ones because it meant I could eat more.

Flavors sampled: Lemon Custard, Peanut Butter and Jelly, and Key Lime. Thoughts?

The pie is good. The crust is very flaky, like a croissant-meets-puff-pastry-pie-crust hybrid. This is very good for flaky crust lovers, but if you prefer a sturdier and chewier crust, you'd be better served at High 5 Pie or Shoofly. 

The fillings are good. The lemon and lime varieties are tart and not overly-sweet; the peanut butter and jelly I found to be a standout, rich but piquant with a touch of jelly, and the perfect foil to the flaky crust--the peanut butter kind of got absorbed and made it nice and thick and dense (and yes, I am one of those "I love more crust" types of people, though Mr. Spy is not and loves flaky crust). 

The logo is good. No bigger bummer than a bad bakery logo. And theirs passes CakeSpy scrutiny.

Also, I love the fact that you can watch the pies being made. LOVE!

And although I deplore diets, I should mention that the teeny tiny mini size is ideal for those who are still New Year's Resolution-ing--they allow a good taste, without being overly indulgent. 

Pie, 3515 Fremont Ave. N, Seattle; online at sweetandsavorypie.com. Find them on Facebook here, follow them on Twitter here. 

Pie on Urbanspoon

Friday
Jan142011

Not Just Pie in the Sky: Pie Day Celebration on January 23rd in Seattle

Put on your fat pants: National Pie Day is coming up on January 23rd. And you know what that means--the annual Pie Day Celebration is going on in Seattle! Of course, not that you needed to be told twice, since Pie is so hot this year--no need to campaign to make it cooler any more.

This is the biggest, baddest, awesomest Pie celebration you're going to find in Seattle--if you want a preview, check out this coverage of one of the past events.

But here are the details on this year's event:

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

Pie Party 2011 in Ballard, Seattle: This annual pie eating event and fundraiser is in its 8th year in Seattle! Here's the blurb from their Facebook invitation:

The 8th Annual Pie Party at the Salmon Bay Eagles ballroom in Ballard is certain to thrill and amaze! Witness a wonderland of consumption from sweet to savory to piefectly experimental.  Come for the tasty pie and stay for the sizzling entertainment featuring readings by Seattle Poet Kate Lebo from her book The Commonplace of Pie, MC Chef Razzle Dazzle aka Fred Northup and Pie Song covers from musical luminaries including Jake London, John Ramburg, Fredd Luongo, Kim Virant, Johnny Sangster, Steph Turner & more! All proceeds benefit The Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research.  Admission is free with a pie in hand or baked-in with a $10 donation. T-shirts!  Raffles! Pie-pharnalia!  Deck yourself out in your bedazzled Pie Best and COME ON DOWN! CHILDREN WELCOME!

The details: Sunday, January 23, 6:00PM to 9:00PM. Location: Salmon Bay Eagles, 5216 20th Ave NW, 2nd Floor, Seattle, Wa, 98107.

Thursday
Jan062011

Sweetie Pie: CakeSpy Loves High 5 Pie and a Butter Love T Shirt Giveaway

Guess what, sweeties?

At long last, High 5 Pie has opened its retail operation in Seattle, on 12th and Madison. Which, not that you asked, but is right along my usual route from home to the store each day. You know what that means: CakeSpy's gonna be high on pie forever!

Now, I was pretty primed to love this bakery. After all, I've been a big fan of their pies (previously primarily found at owner Dani Cone's Fuel Coffee locations) for a long time.

Aaaand (full disclosure) I was a consultant for some recipes on their menu, which has expanded with the new retail operation (fun game: to to the bakery, and guess which flavors I helped develop). High 5!

But upon visiting on New Year's Day with Mr. Spy--our first official bakery visit of the year!--we were even more impressed than we expected.

Here are just a few reasons you should love the new High 5 Pie retail location:

 

  • The pies are delicious. They come by the slice, in mini pie form, in hand pie ("Flipside") form, or as pie fries! And since they sneak crack into the pie crust, you bet your bottom dollar it's good.
  • They serve them a la mode, if you'd like, with Bluebird Ice Cream.
  • The space itself is beautiful, with a slightly more minty green version of Tiffany blue used all over the place--on the custom espresso machine, on the signage, you name it.
  • But of course, they still maintain some secrets.
  • And they have delicious cookies (and biscuits, and a few other items in addition to pies...including a nice variety of gluten-free and vegan items)
  • ...and they have this t-shirt. BUTTER! LOVE!

 

Now, here's the thing. I bought this t-shirt, in Unisex Small, but as it turns out, your dear Spy is smaller than small, and it doesn't quite fit.

This is good news for you though, because I'm doing a giveaway! Even if unisex small isn't your size, I'm sure you can find a willing recipient for this BUTTER LOVE tee.

Want to enter? Simply leave a comment below, telling me what flavor of pie you favor best. The giveaway will close on Thursday, January 13, at noon PST; one winner will be chosen at random. US and Canadian entrants only, please.

For immediate pie gratification, visit high5pie.com.

Tuesday
Oct122010

Apple of My Pie: A Brief Look at the History of Apple Pie

Undoubtedly, one of the pleasures of autumn is that classic crusted piece of American cookery, the Apple Pie.

But how American, really, is Apple Pie?

Do you want the short answer or the long answer? How 'bout both?

The short answer: Apple pie is all-American, in the same way that the nation plays host to all sorts of ethnicities and influences: that is to say, a real melting pot.

...and that brings us to the long answer.

To really consider the humble pie's beginnings, we've got to go back--way back. As you learned so long ago on this very site when we discussed the history of Pumpkin pie, it's probably best to look at most American pies starting from the bottom up (that is to say: consider the crust). Per aforementioned writeup:

The origins of the pie stretch way back to ancient Egypt, where an early version of the pastry was made with honey and nuts in bread dough, in our opinion they came into their own during medieval times. Pies (charmingly called “coffins” then) became popular for being both a food and a vessel—easy to transport, hearty and filling. Of course, being baked without a pan at the time, the crust was...well, pretty crusty and inedible. But, it did protect the (usually savory) contents on jousts and voyages to and from the castle. Over the years, the piemaking method improved, and the size of a typical pie increased—they had to be pretty big after all to fit four and twenty blackbirds.

But there was also a pleasant and perhaps unexpected side effect to these advances in baking: the crust also started to taste good (or at least to merit attention). Per What's Cooking America:

It wasn't until the 16th century that cookbooks with pastry ingredients began appearing. Historian believe this was because cookbooks started appearing for the general household and not just for professional cooks.

From the same source, a recipe from 1545 seems to pay attention to details which are meant to yield a tasty crust:

To Make Short Paest for Tarte - Take fyne floure and a cursey of fayre water and a dysche of swete butter and a lyttel saffron, and the yolckes of two egges and make it thynne and as tender as ye maye.

...OK, so you probably see where I'm going with all of this crusty talk. Basically, while crust was initially seen as a vessel, a method of transport, it basically turned into "Hey, we might just have something here."

Which brings us to the big question: What about apples?

It was my belief that like Pumpkin pie, apple pie didn't make its sweet entry on to the pastry scene til Colonial times in America--after all, in the 1500s and early 1600s, pies in Europe were almost savory. But believe it or not, there is evidence of apple usage in pie form from as early as the mid-1500s (A Proper newe Booke of Cokerye, as discovered here)

To make pyes of grene apples - Take your apples and pare them cleane and core them as ye wyll a Quince, then make youre coffyn after this maner, take a lyttle fayre water and half a dyche of butter and a little Saffron, and sette all this upon a chafyngdyshe tyll it be hoate then temper your flower with this sayd licuor, and the whyte of two egges and also make yourcoffyn and ceason your apples with Sinemone,Gynger and Suger ynoughe. Then putte them into your coffin and laye halfe a dyshe of butter above them and so close your coffin, and so bake them.

Nonetheless, it seems that when the concept of Apple Pie made the leap stateside with the Pilgrims, it truly came into its own as a uniquely American treat. Not right away, of course--initially only crabapples could be found, but ultimately the timing of the advent of apples as a US crop seemed to time out nicely with sugar becoming more readily available, and as anyone knows, apple pie is much better when made with sugar. Pies in general were quite popular during the settlers' first lean years in the US, filled with produce from the New World -- this is the time during which pumpkin pie became a "thing", for instance. But the popularity of apple pies and puddings is not a big surprise--after all, apples keep well, and can be dried for use year-round, so it makes sense that they would become a go-to item in the Colonial kitchen.

What's on top?

 So, there is some argument about how to best enjoy apple pie (and we won't even go into family arguments about the pie recipe itself). Double or lattice crust, crumb or streusel topping? A la mode, or with a slice of Sharp cheddar?

Not that you asked, but here's my stance.

While double crust varieties are undoubtedly the oldest and most traditional way of preparing apple pie, I'd like to humbly make a case for crumb. I've always called this variation "Dutch Apple Pie", although it seems that technically "Dutch Apple Pie" tends to refer to copious amounts of cinnamon in the recipe as opposed to the crumb topping. For the purposes of this entry, though--let it be known I am talking about the crumb-topped version, which is often seen in Pennsylvania Dutch country. 

It's hard to understand why anyone who has ever had a crumb-topped apple pie would ever go back to double crust. It's got a delectable crunch! The top crust isn't too hard, and doesn't crack away unevenly with the filling! It's sweet, salty, rich in flavor, and delicious! Please, tell me why I'm wrong about this--I dare you.

In my mind, the only reason you'd ever choose double crust over crumb or streusel topping is if you're eating your pie New England style--with a slice of sharp cheddar cheese. That tradition is interesting--as I discovered on Food Timeline,

The practice of combining cheese, fruit, and nuts dates back to ancient times. These were often served at the end of a meal because they were thought to aid in digestion. From the earliest days through the Renaissance, the partaking of these foods was generally considered a priviledge of the wealthy. This practice was continued by wealthy dinners composed of many courses up until the 19th century. Apples and cheesemaking were introduced to the New World by European settlers. These people also brought with them their recipes and love for certain combinations. This explains the popular tradition of apple pie and cheddar cheese in our country.

 

Of course, I'd be remiss at this point to not touch upon what is undoubtedly the most popular accompaniment for apple pie--ice cream. Serving pie "A la mode", or  "in the current style or fashion", means that you're serving it (usually warm) with a big ol' scoop of ice cream on the side. Where does the term come from? Can't say whether it's true or not, but there is a rather sweet story attached to it, via a reprint from Sealtest Magazine, which I discovered via Barry Popik:

We have it that the late Professor Charles Watson Townsend, who lived alone in a Main Street apartment during his later years and dined regularly at the Hotel Cambridge, now known as the Cambridge Hotel, was wholly responsible for the blessed business. 

One day in the mid 90’s, Professor Townsend was seated for dinner at a table when the late Mrs. Berry Hall observed that he was eating ice cream with his apple pie. Just like that she named it “Pie a la Mode”, and we often wondered why, and thereby brought enduring fame to Professor Townsend and the Hotel Cambridge. 

Shortly thereafter the Professor visited New York City, taking with him a yen for his favorite dessert new name and all. At the fashionable Delmonico’s he nonchalantly ordered Pie a la Mode and when the waiter stated that he never heard of such a thing the Professor expressed a great astonishment. 

“Do you mean to tell me that so famous an eating place as Delmonico’s has never heard of Pie a la Mode, when the Hotel Cambridge, up in the village of Cambridge, NY serves it every day? Call the manager at once, I demand as good service here as I get in Cambridge.” 

But no matter whose story you believe, one thing is for sure: apple pie served with ice cream is delicious. Especially when it's crumb-topped pie.

No doubt about it: Apple pie certainly serves up a thought-provoking slice of American history. But as for the final word? I believe that this quote I found on Food Timeline seems to sum it up nicely:

"When you say that something is "as American as apple pie," what you're really saying is that the item came to this country from elsewhere and was transformed into a distinctly American experience." --As American as Apple Pie, John Lehndorff, American Pie Council.

Thursday
Aug052010

Pie in the Sky: Blueberry Pie Recipe from Macrina Bakery

What with Monday's Pie Vs. Cake Showdown coming up, I was pretty excited to discover that this month's newsletter from Macrina Bakery included a blueberry pie recipe! Yielding a not-too-sweet filling with a very buttery crust, this one might just be prize material!

As they put it in the newsletter, "Few things in life are as wonderful as homemade blueberry pie. It is heaven on earth! I recommend using slightly tart organic blueberries whenever possible."

Photo credit: Macrina Bakery

Classic Blueberry Pie

Makes one double-crust 9-inch pie

Ingredients

  • 7 cups (3-1/2 pints) organic blueberries
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 recipe Flaky Pie Dough (see recipe), chilled
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • Egg wash made with 1 egg and 1 teaspoon water
  • Coarse raw sugar
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Procedure

  1. Sort through the blueberries, removing any stems and leaves. Gently rinse the berries and lay them out on paper towels to air dry.
  2. Combine 3-1/2 cups of the blueberries, granulated sugar, brown sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon, vanilla extract and flour in a medium saucepan. Mix with a spoon. Cook over medium heat until the fruit juices have been released and the mixture has thickened, 5 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently to keep the mixture from burning. Pour the cooked fruit into a large stainless steel bowl and add the remaining blueberries. Stir with a spoon and set aside until the fruit has cooled to room temperature.
  3. Divide the chilled pie dough into 2 pieces, making one piece slightly larger than the other. Coat your hands with flour and shape the larger piece of dough into a ball. Working on a floured surface, flatten the ball slightly, then roll it into a 12-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Fit the rolled dough into a 9-inch pie pan. Trim the edges of the dough to leave a 1-inch overhang around the pan. Roll out the remaining piece of dough 1/8-inch thick and trim it into a 10-inch circle. Set aside. This will be the top crust.
  4. Pour the cooled fruit into the pie shell and dot with butter. Brush the top side of the overhanging dough with a little egg wash. Lift the top crust onto the pie, folding it in half to make it easier to accurately position. Lift the overhanging dough onto the top crust and crimp with your fingers. Mark the crimped edges with a fork, then brush all of the crust with egg wash. Sprinkle with coarse raw sugar and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Place the pie on the prepared baking sheet. Using a sharp knife cut 4 slits in the center of the crust. Bake pie for 50 to 55 minutes. The crust will be golden brown and the fruit will be bubbling in the center of the pie. Let cool for 30 to 40 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
Monday
Jul192010

Pie Meets Cookie: Pookie, a Cookie-Coated Pie

Discovering the Pake (a pie baked into a gigantic cake) was something of an epiphany: talk about a way to make pie even awesomer. But it also prompted a question: what else could be applied to pie for an added dimension of delicious?

The answer was clear, of course: a cookie dough coating.

This behemoth starts with an entire 8-inch pie, ideally erring on the slightly under-baked side, which is then covered on all sides in butterscotch chip cookie dough and baked to golden, crispy perfection. Of course, it should go without saying that this buttery, crust-on-crust magic is best served à la mode.

For the full entry and recipe, visit Serious Eats!

Tuesday
May112010

Apple of My Pie: A Heavenly Apple Pie by High 5 Pie

I can happily co-exist with people who prefer a double crust on their apple pie.

But that doesn't mean I understand them.

For me, it's all about the crumb topping, and I've found what might be the perfect specimen: the apple pie by High 5 Pie. Proprietress and Pie Lady extraordinaire Dani Cone (also owner of Fuel Coffee...how cool can one person be?) brought me this baby as a sweet treat in honor of my gallery's grand opening the other day, and all I can say is that this is the sort of apple pie that will convert non-believers.

Let's start from the bottom up.

It all starts with a buttery crust which somehow manages to be buttery but not too flaky, sturdy but not too tough.

Moving up, it has a thick layer of apple chunks which would make Cook's Illustrated proud, because there is no shrinkage, and the apples retain a nice crispness around the edges, so that you can actually tell they are apples and not just apple mush.

And finally--the best part for this crumb devotee--is the topping. A generous smattering of fat, crunchy, brown sugary crumbs that might make you want to die with pleasure.

But as if all this wasn't enough, I also received all these samples of Sassy Sauces this week, and so decided to see how the pie might taste when topped with a drizzle of their rum caramel sauce--and I have to say, if this wasn't heaven, then it was definitely a suitable substitute.

What does all of this awesome add up to? My new favorite combination, that's what.

High 5 Pie can be found at Fuel Coffee locations and various other cafes and coffee shops in Seattle, and by special order; for those in other areas of the nation, I officially offer a vaguely sarcastic "sorry" and a suggestion that you book a ticket to Sea-town directly.

Sassy Sauces are readily available for shipment; visit sassysauces.us.

Monday
May102010

Taste the Magic: Magic Cookie Bar Pie for Serious Eats

Magic Cookie Bars are, as their name might imply, no ordinary treat. Starting with layer upon layer of unrelentingly rich layers of buttery graham cracker crumbs, toasted coconut, chocolate and butterscotch chips, and nuts, they get even better from a rich smothering in sweetened condensed milk.

With all that awesome, some might argue that a small serving is best. But I disagree, and to prove it, I've created it in a deliciously thick pie form.

Inspired by the construction of the delicious BakedBar from Baked in Brooklyn, I made my pie with a coconut-graham cracker crust which then got filled with the sweetened condensed milk slurry--the resulting confection attained a crust that was crispy, but the inside remains pleasingly gooey, making for a dessert that will likely displease your dentist, but will definitely make your mouth happy.

For more, plus a recipe, visit Serious Eats!

Monday
Feb152010

Sweet and Petite: Mini Empire Bakery, Seattle

The revolution is coming, and it is tiny.

Yes, indeed: Mini Empire Bakery is slowly but surely making Seattle sweeter, one mini pie, cupcake, and "scookie" (scone-cookie) at a time.

Mini Pie Revolution Logo

Don't get me wrong, I'm still a fan of cakes and pie slices the size of saucers, but there is something nice about pint-sized treats: you can eat four at once and totally feel good about it.

Mr. Spy and I recently attended their debut at Porchlight Coffee in Seattle's Capitol Hill, where they were serving up mini (cupcake-sized) pies in cranberry pear, bourbon pecan, and apple chai flavors (some of which were even vegan). And they're adorable. I mean, just look at this:

Adorable! And though small, the taste was mighty: deliciously flaky crust and thoughtfully, well-spiced fillings that left you wanting more--in a good way. The perfect sort of small bites for an after lunch or dinner treat.

Currently this is a custom-order and wholesale business (oh, and have I mentioned that the bakers are as cute as the goods? Pictured above), but there are undoubtedly big things in store for this small-scale baking operation, with some whisperings about a possible retail bakery. If this is the mini revolution, consider CakeSpy part of the tiny entourage!

For more information, including how to place a special order and retail locations, visit miniempirebakery.com.

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