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Entries in pies (58)


Pie Slam Profiles: Blueberry Pie by Wendy Johnson

CakeSpy Note: This is part of a series of Pie Slam Profiles, featuring the recipes and stories of each of the 9 entrants in last week's Pi(e) Day Pie Slam! This entry is for Blueberry pie, by Wendy Johnson. Here's her story, followed by her recipe.

Pie : a (true) love story

Did Grandma Radi make pies?  I asked.

No, that’s the one thing she couldn’t cook.  They came out tough.

And Grandma Johnson?

No, she couldn’t really cook anything.

Well, how did you start making pie?

I just taught myself, the first pie I made was when we were first married, maybe just a week. That was the best pie I ever made, I could never get them to turn out as good.

What kind was it?

Lemon meringue.

Mom was red-eyed, staring out the passenger window as we drove through the stultifying Texas landscape of oil wells, pawn shops and used car dealerships.

She would silently work a crossword for awhile, or concentrate on her knitting, and then suddenly start in about how they met, about the awful yellow sweater he was wearing when his friends came up to her friends after a Sweet Home High School Basketball game.

Or about how he courted her in his father’s 1960 dark blue Buick LeSabre convertible with the white ragtop. Ray Charles would’ve been singing “I can’t stop loving you.” They’d put the top down, blast the heat and cruise around Buffalo, New York in the chilly spring of 1962.

As we neared Birmingham Alabama, she told me without malice of how dad’s parents had offered him money to prevent the marriage of their son to the daughter of Italian immigrants. Of how my Grandmother, on her death bed, had said to my mom, “I was pretty hard on you wasn’t I? I’m sorry for that.”

The Lemon Meringue was the first tradition that they alone owned. Not from his family or hers. My mother created pie for my father. Over the years they shared, almost 50, she honed her skill, her deft first generation hands turning flour and butter and fruit and sugar into expertly sculpted deliciousness, perfectly balanced between sweet and tart, between lightness and substance.

And what about the last pie, do you remember what it was?

It must’ve been blueberry. Your father loved blueberry.

Here's the recipe:

Blueberry Pie

For the Butter Pastry:

  • 2 cups all purpose unbleached white flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cups unsalted butter (or 2/3 cup butter and 1/3 cup leaf lard.) 
  • 1/3 cup cold water (may add 1-2 tsp cider or white vinegar.) 

For the Filling:

  • 3 cups Blueberries and 3 cups Wild Blueberries 
  • ½-1 cup light brown sugar (or to taste)
  • 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • The juice of one fresh-squeezed lemon
  • Nutmeg (1/4 tsp), Cinnamon (2 tsp), Cardamom (1/4 tsp), Ground cloves (1/4 tsp) and ground ginger (1 tsp.) (add spices to taste)


  1. Put everything in the refrigerator for an hour or so before making the pastry (the mixing bowl, the water, the lard, the butter).  Preheat the oven to 350.  Combine the flour, salt, and butter in a large mixing bowl and work with a pastry cutter until the butter chunks are the size of peas. You should still be able to see small pieces of butter. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and use your hands to flatten some of the bits of fat into flakey pieces. Add the water all at once and gather the jumble together without really stirring or kneading, just until the mixture comes together to form a shaggy mass. Without handling the dough any more than necessary, divide in half and press each half into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate it while preparing the berries.
  2. Wash fresh berries, or use frozen.  Put all berries in bowl and toss with sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and spices.  Add more sugar or spices to taste, but be careful not to over sweeten.
  3. On a well-floured surface, roll out one disk of the pastry into a 12-inch circle onto floured parchment paper.  Lift the parchment paper and place dough-side down into a buttered 10-inch pie pan. Press the pastry into place and pour in the berry mix. Roll the second disk of dough into a 12-inch circle and plant it squarely on top of the filling. Crimp the edges together to create a seal, then trim off an excess dough. Pierce the top crust with a fork or knife to vent juices. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is boiling out of the crust a bit, about 1 hour. Cool thoroughly on a rack before slicing.

(Pastry recipe adapted from: Greg Atkinson, Copyright 2007)


Cake Byte: American Pie Opens in Georgetown, Seattle

This week, when Mr. Spy and I made our usual visit to Calamity Jane's for breakfast, we saw a most beautiful sight: American Pie, which has been "about to open" for a very, very long time, has now officially opened its doors in Georgetown, Seattle.

Sadly, they are not open on Sundays, though, so we didn't get to try the pies.

However, trusted CakeSpy comrade Terri, who works at Calamity Jane's, gave us the 411. Terri can most certainly be trusted, for many reasons, including but not limited to A) the fact that she was the first customer on the first day that American Pie opened; and B) She is the type of person who hosts butter parties.

Terri reports that she has tried several types of their pie, and has officially developed a deep love for their Chicken Pot Pie; on the sweet front, a blueberry pie with lattice-top crust and mini pecan pies have also struck her fancy. The crust is an exceptionally flaky, buttery specimen, adding a nice, savory contrast to sweet fillings, and a buttery complement to savory fillings.

They also sell a variety of empanadas and Spanish cookies, says Terri. While on the one hand it may seem funny that an establishment called American Pie sells a variety of ethnic sweets, it really is kind of all-American in that our nation truly is a melting pot.

Wary of yet more pie in Seattle? Well, as Terri so aptly put it, "I love pie. I mean, putting delicious things in buttery crust--what could be better than that?". Amen to that--bring on the butter, bring on the pie, bring on the sweet revolution!

Of course, if you're in Georgetown on a sunday, when American Pie is not open, Calamity Jane's does have dessert:

American Pie, 5631 Airport Way South, Georgetown, Seattle.


Pie Slam Profiles: A Post-Pie Slam Story from Sarah Spiller

CakeSpy Note: This is part of a series of Pie Slam Profiles, featuring the recipes and stories of each of the 9 entrants in last week's Pi(e) Day Pie Slam! This follow-up entry comes from Sarah Spiller, a Seattle University Student and dorm baking expert, who writes about the humbling experience of her first pie-baking experiment and how she brought it all back home with a second pie.

Like my gnocchi dinner party disaster of December ’10, my entry to the Pie Slam last week can only be described as an epic fail. While I thoroughly enjoyed the company and stories of the other entrants, I could not help but be haunted the entire night by my personal pie fail. What started as a pumpkin cream pie somehow melted into what can only be called pumpkin soup during the journey from my dorm room to the judging table. I could blame it on my weak dorm fridge or the hot lights of the CakeSpy gallery, but ultimately the pumpkin soup can only be blamed on myself.

Not one to wallow in my baking failures (since mistakes – both massive and minor – are inevitable in a baker’s career), I set my sights on redeeming myself. Not for anyone else, not even for the pie gods, but to prove to myself that I could again master the pie – that I would not fall victim to its pastry challenges.

Spring break has been the perfect opportunity to get my pie redemption. Living in a house of hungry college friends on Whidbey Island, and finally blessed with a beautiful, fully equipped kitchen, baking was my first priority. I whipped out the lime green Kitchenaid mixer within hours of arriving and got to work on a classic apple pie recipe from Martha Stewart.

Just my luck, the pie that was not for judging or consumption by well known bakers of Seattle, turned out beautifully. Warm, aromatic, and simply stunning in the late afternoon light, it was the pie of my dreams. However, like all my pies, it was not picture perfect. My lattice crust had some gaps, and rolling out the dough was certainly a challenge. But after slicing and serving with vanilla ice cream, I didn’t hear a single complaint from my friends. No one minded that my crust wasn’t as perfect as Martha’s, or that I didn’t have any lemon juice to add to the apples. All they cared about was the taste and the effort that went into the pie.  

Many people consider pie to be an unattainable holy grail of baking – too many challenges and chances for failure. But really, any pie that tastes delicious and makes people happy is no failure at all.

To find the recipe for the pie featured in this post, visit Martha Stewart's site!


Pie Slam Profiles: Pumpkin Pie in a Gingersnap Crust by Sarah Spiller

Note: This is not Sarah's pie, but it gives you an idea.CakeSpy Note: This is part of a series of Pie Slam Profiles, featuring the recipes and stories of each of the 9 entrants in last week's Pi(e) Day Pie Slam! This entry came from Sarah Spiller, a Seattle University Student and dorm baking expert. Sarah was disappointed with the end result as the pie was soft when served-- but when put into cups for individual servings, it was very delicious, and nobody complained one bit.

Here's her story:

My Grandma Brennan was a no frills baker. An amazing baker, but a no frills baker. Snickerdoodle, oatmeal raisin, molasses, and gingersnap cookies were right up her alley. Classic birthday cakes and summer fruit pies were always top notch. She was a master at canning, piecrusts, and putting hot, wholesome meals on the table. Dessert was always present, even when it was just a dish of Tillamook ice cream (Brown Cow was her favorite, and mine too). I picked up a lot of things from my grandma, namely my love for green beans that have been cooked into soft submission, probably a result of many days spent with my grandma as an infant.

I also seemed to inherit her love for baking and even greater love for pumpkin pie. Never ever a picky kid, I picked up on the greatness of pumpkin pie at a very early age. Around kindergarten, when the buildup before Thanksgiving was big – full of hand turkey crafts and talking about being thankful – all I could think about was pumpkin pie. I WAS OBSESSED. When the day finally came, all I could do was wait – wait those torturous hours before I would receive my beautiful, luscious, perfectly spiced piece of creamy pie.

When it FINALLY came time to slice the pie, my grandma sliced and handed to me what may have been the BIGGEST piece of pie I had ever seen in my six years of life. My eyes lit up with excitement, thrill, and disbelief that this huge amazing piece could possibly be for me! But I didn’t dare say a word and quietly started back to my seat at the kids’ table. Suddenly, my grandma looked up and realized what a large piece she had given me by accident and said, “Oh that’s far too big for Sarah,” and took it back. My eager grin turned to sheer disappointment in the blink of an eye. My parents were watching the whole thing and trying very hard not to burst out laughing. Grandma cut my piece in half and gave it back, still a fairly large portion for a little girl. It was delicious in all ways possible, of course, but I was still hankering for more.

That other half slice haunted me the rest of the evening. Being a very observant mother, my mom picked up on this and offered me a solution = pie for breakfast, possibly some of the greatest words to come out of her mouth. I was unsure if my mom would follow through, but the next morning when I asked for pie for breakfast, I was greeted with a beautiful piece of pie, even better the next day. This blossomed into a family tradition that I am always happy to participate in each year.  

Things haven’t really changed at all. I’m still obsessed with pumpkin pie and Thanksgiving, waiting for weeks in anticipation for the big meal. This being my first year away from home, I made several phone calls to my mom before my trip home, making sure EVERYTHING would be exactly the same. I told her all menu changes must go through me – the president of the Thanksgiving Board of Trustees. While my grandma now has Alzheimer’s and no longer bakes the pies, she can still remember this story and chuckles at it every year – jokingly reaching for my plate. Now the baking responsibilities are in my hands – but so is the serving knife, guaranteeing a very big slice for me, both after dinner and for breakfast.

Here's the recipe:

Recipe for Pumpkin Pie (Adapted from Joy the Baker)

For the Crust:
  • 1 1/2 cups finely crushed graham crackers or crisp ginger snap cookies
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  1. In a medium bowl, combine crushed graham crackers or ginger snaps with sugar, salt and melted butter.  Toss together to coat the entire mixture in butter.  Press into a 9-inch baking dish, a tart pan with a removable bottom or 8 individual ramekins.  I like making these no bake desserts in a tart pan or in individual ramekins so I don’t have to fuss with fighting to remove the sliced pie from the pie pan.
  2. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool completely before adding the filling.
For the Filling:
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  1. Beat cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric stand mixer until smooth and creamy.  Both fats should be well softened to ensure the filling is lump free.  Add the powdered sugar to the mixture and beat until smooth and fluffy.  Add the vanilla extract, molasses, pumpkin pie spice and pumpkin puree and beat until thoroughly combined.  If you find that your filling is lumpy, pass it through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl.  I did that.  No shame in that game.
  2. Spoon the filling into the cooled pie or tart shell, or divide into individual ramekins.  Let pie chill in the fridge overnight.  This is actually important… the pie won’t be settled enough in 2 hours.  Overnight is best.
For Topping:
  • Cool Whip
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  1. Beat together cool whip and maple syrup until cream is in soft peaks.  Spread over the chilled pie. Slice and serve.

Pie Slam Profiles: Fig, Apple, and Walnut Pie by Aharona Ament

CakeSpy Note: This is part of a series of Pie Slam Profiles, featuring the recipes and stories of each of the 9 entrants in last week's Pi(e) Day Pie Slam! This entry came from Aharona Ament, a recent Chicago transplant to Seattle, who has the sweetest smile in the world, is a very good story-teller, and makes a mean pie (making her a big winner, in this spy's book).

Here's her story:

Fig by Aharona Ament

Arthur Wendell “Fig” Newton,was born on March 14th at almost two in the morning, 1:59 to be percise.  His parents, both math teachers, were very happy to have thier son born on such a special day, Pi day! They dreamed that their son would grow up in their footsteps to torment confused adolecents with numonics about dear Aunt Sally and cosines laws that could get you arrested in some states. 

No one in Fig’s class knew that he was a desendent of Issac Newton and that an apple falling on top of a math equastion was part of his family’s coat of arms. Maybe if they knew that, they wouldn’t have given him the nickname of “Fig”, mocking both his heritage, and the fruit and cake concoction.

Fig, liked that he was born on Pi day, but favored the word of a different varerity. P-I-E! Fig spent most of his time in the kitchen. While his parents toiled away at number sequenices imported all the way from Italy, Fig was working at making the perfect pastry crusts with imported Danish butter.

Fig’s baking talents grew and grew. His ability to figure out fractions improved one whole half because of his love for making treats. He could double, triple and even quadruple recipes without the aid of a calulator or counting on his fingers. He knew that 2/3 cup = 1/2 cup plus 2-2/3 tablespoons and that 5/8 cup = 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons and he even knew that 7/8 cup=3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons. There wasn’t a numurator or demoninator that Fig couldn’t place perfectly in line and all of his cakes, pies, lemon bars, quiches, cupcakes, brownies, breads, muffins, croissants, tarts, paczkis and danishes came perfectly out of the oven, tasty, sweet and bursting with symmetrical sweetness.

When Fig decided that he wanted to be a famous pastry chef instead of a famous mathamatician, his parents, fat from miscalculations over caloric intake were upset. (yes, that extra piece of triple chocolate fudge goo cake cut in a perfect 45 degree angle of 250 calories will result in one pound or 3, 500 calories gained per week. Especially if it was so good that you ate two.)

“How can you not do real math problems all day?” his mother asked him? “You know, with a pencil and piece of paper and lots of head scratching”?  Fig’s father was a bit more upset. “ Baking pies for a living is as irrational as pi itself, because its value cannot be expressed exactly as a fraction! Fig’s father growled confusing pastry with the mathematical constant and making no logical sense whatsoever.

No, said Fig. I like to bake pies and treats, you like to do math. There is nothing wrong with either.

But they suddenly realized that Fig’s baking talents were also his gift with numbers. How else could they explain the ongoing assembly line of mathmatically perfect confections coming out of the kitchen and in to their mouths? They were so excited that they joined him in the kitchen to learn math problems with flour, sugar and butter, but couldn’t figure out how to work the flour sifter.  Fig sent them off to see if they could figure out the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter with a whole number. He knew that that would make them hungry, so he started to prepare a perfect treat.

Here's the recipe:

 For the Crust

  • 12 tablespoons cold salted butter
  • 1 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening
  • a few tablespoons ice water (about 1/2 cup)
  • Egg (for brushing) 

For the filling

  • 3-4 apples
  • 1 cup of walnuts
  • 2 cups figs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar


  1. Make the crust: Mix dry ingredients together. Cut up butter into cubes and add along with vegetable shortening and mix in mixer.
  2. Add water slowly and pulse mixer until dough forms a ball. Wrap in wax paper and chill.  
  3. Meanwhile, prepare filling. Cup up apples and mix in walnuts, figs and sugar in a bowl.
  4. Roll out dough and fill pie pan. There will be enough to make a top layer Add mixture. Brush pastry with beaten egg.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees F. Yay!

Pie Slam Profiles: Apple Pie Recipe and Story by Max Snyder

CakeSpy Note: This is part of a series of Pie Slam Profiles, featuring the recipes and stories of each of the 9 entrants in last week's Pi(e) Day Pie Slam! This entry, for an extremely tasty apple pie (which was helpfully labeled "PIE" in case you were in doubt as to what it was) was submitted by cute-as-can-be Seattle University student Max Snyder. Here's his story, followed by his recipe:

 "When Baking In A College Dorm" - A parable by Max Snyder

I hear you like pie, and that's why you came;
It is quite understandable; there isn't any shame.
But before you take a slice, a morsel, a bite;
I'll tell you this pie's story of what occurred on that fateful night.

Dark, cold, and pouring down rain;
The Seattle skies threw a downpour upon the window pane.
Thunder cracked and raindrops fell;
The puddles and ponds began to swell.

Whilst inside, bustling like bank clerk;
The baker was busy at his work.
With the heat of the oven to fend off the frigid cold,
A pie dough was slowly being rolled.

Apples, cinnamon, and a pinch of the secret spice;
Only the best ingredients would suffice.
All chopped up and ready to go,
Dough and filling created an ideal tableaux.

With this pie he would enter the pastry contest;
Just to see how his apple confection compared to all the rest.

Pie into the oven - preheated just right,
Little did the baker know what would happen that night.
For the baker’s kitchen was very different from the norm;
He was baking in a college dorm.

“What’s all this mess,” his RA inquires;
When really, its his pie that his RA desires.
Next comes the weird guy from a couple of doors down;
Who hangs out on the couch in just his night gown.

A few jocks and bros soon arrive;
Throwing out “yo’s!” and lots of high fives.
And then, despite their mutual dislike;
The art kids arrive like they just finished a hunger strike.

The small college kitchen fills more and more;
When the baker has to tell them to all go to the door.
“This pie’s not for you!” he yelled over the grumbles and protests;
“But where will we get our pie?” ask the quite girl in the polka-dot dress.

At this moment the baker had a change of heart;
He was baking a pie, he didn’t want to be a tart.
“You’re right!” he exclaimed;
“Pies are meant to be shared, not to be framed”

Thus everyone had a slice because it was terribly good;
And the baker made another pie just because he could.

Max's Apple Pie


  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • a wee bit of salt
  • 1 cup of shortening
  • some butter (depending on your mood)
  • 3 tablespoons of water
  • 3 tablespoons of vodka


  • 3/4 cup sugar; brown is usually better
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 cups thinly sliced apples (thinner and smaller apple pieces are better)
  • 2 tablespoons butter


  1. Cut in all of the crust ingredients into the flour except the water and vodka. Alternate adding tablespoons of vodka and water and mixing between each. Stop adding liquid when it becomes moist. Split into two balls, one slightly larger and one smaller. Try and fit it into your tiny college fridge for about 20 minutes.
  2. Mix filling together. Well that was simple.
  3. Roll out crust. Don't fear, just take is slowly.
  4. Put the bottom crust in the pie dish and fill with the filling. Cover with the upper crust. Fork the edges and cut vents in the top. Remove excess crust. Maybe put a visual pun on top.
  5. Put in oven preheated to 425°F. Surround with a ring of foil to prevent the crust from browning to quickly. Remove the foil for the last 15 minutes. Bake for 40-50 minutes.
  6. Most important step: Allow to cool by an open window. By subjecting your pie to this treatment, it gains local flavor from the outside air.



Pie Slam Profiles: Apple Pie Recipe and Story by Stephanie Crocker

CakeSpy Note: This is part of a series of Pie Slam Profiles, featuring the recipes and stories of each of the 9 entrants in last week's Pi(e) Day Pie Slam! This entry, for one of the tastiest apple pies I've ever tried, came along with a good story from Stephanie Crocker, who you may know as the owner of Sugar Bakery + Cafe in Seattle (where this pie will be joining the menu soon!).


The Only One

By Stephanie Crocker

First, you’ll have to ask which one? Should it be the one that's over 50 years old and therefore antique? Or is the correct term retro? Shall it be the tart one, the crisp one, the green one, the light green one, the round one, or the biggest one? Or perhaps it should be the new fangled cross-bred that marries the best of the best with the best of the best? Or perhaps it should be a blend, each fruit hand chosen with the help of the tall messy haired produce guy?

And once that’s decided, how will it make you feel? Will it be what you think it would be like to sit on your grandmother's porch on a late summer afternoon? Or will you remember working your way through a large box of them with the other girls from the neighborhood, everyone’s tiny fingers all pruney from the juice? And don’t forget the stickiness of the kitchen on a hot afternoon, with frequent dips in the pool next door to rinse off and cool down. Will there be visions of a red checkered curtain, flapping over it as it sits in the window sill?

And what will it be like when it’s ready, this perfect circle of warmth? What will it do for you besides fill the room with spicy goodness as it sits on the counter waiting for ice cream? What will those cute little chunks of goodness swimming around in a sea of cinnamon goo taste like? And how about that dark crunchy crust, as it crumbles apart with every bite?

And then when should you eat it? On a summer picnic? After the meat and potatoes have moved along? Or maybe sneak some at breakfast before everybody wakes up? It really doesn’t matter, the moment is now.

It's the only one I'll ever truly love to eat. It's the only one I truly love to make. It's the best version of an everyday fruit that I can think of. It’s one of the most difficult ones to make just right. And though this sounds pretentious, I really only love my own. I’m so sorry to the other’s I’ve tried. But don’t just run away and cry, I’ll be happy to share my love with you. Let me tell you how to make my apple pie.

...and here's the recipe! 

Apple Pie


  • 2 cups (10 oz) all purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons (3/4 oz) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon (2.5 oz) vegetable shortening, preferably chilled
  • 1 Stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
  • 1/8-1/4 cup (2-4 oz) cold water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla* 

Yield: Crust for one 2-crust pie or two 1-crust pies. 

  1. Using stand mixer, blend flour, sugar, and salt with paddle attachment in mixing bowl. Slowly add shortening and butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add vanilla. Slowly add water until dough just comes together and is slightly wet.
  2. If mixing by hand, blend flour, sugar, and salt with a fork. Add the shortening and butter and blend with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add vanilla. Slowly add water and blend with your fingers until dough just comes together and is slightly wet. Be careful that your hands do not warm the dough too much.
  3. Form dough into a flat disk, wrap with plastic and let dough chill for about 1 hour or overnight.
  4. Dough can be stored in the refrigerator for 1-2 days, or frozen for up to a month. Crusts can be rolled out and stored in the freezer as well.

Apple Filling 

  • 2 each Golden Delicious (about 1 lb)
  • 2 each Granny Smith Apples (about 1lb)
  • 1 cup (7 oz) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice

Peel and core apples* and cut into ½” chunks. Toss in granulated sugar and cinnamon and blend with lemon juice. Pour into unbaked pie crust and top with 1 cup streusel or second crust. Bake 40-50 minutes until mixture is bubbly.

*Peeling apples is optional.




Pie Slam Profiles: Lunchbox Pie Recipe and Story by Brook McDonald

CakeSpy Note: Here's the first in a series of Pie Slam Profiles, featuring the recipes and stories of each of the 9 entrants in last week's Pi(e) Day Pie Slam! This entry, for a toothsome concoction of banana, honey, whipped cream, peanut butter, and chocolate covered potato chips(!) was made by Brook, a freshman at Seattle University, who is "getting a business degree so that I may open my own bakery one day, which is my greatest dream and passion."

Here's the poem Brook read to introduce her pie: 

Lunchbox Pie by Brook McDonald

There was once a girl who loved to bake pies
And for her age, she was quite wise
So with a twist of her wrist
And a flick of the whisk
She began to improvise.
She went to school in the city of Seattle
Though only elementary she was quite tactful
Her heart was full of love for the food that she would create
Especially her pies now that was no debate.
At school everyday she ate the same lunch
Her stomach still grumbling as she began to munch
In the box were ruffles and milk chocolate chips
With a sandwich so delicious she could not stop smacking her lips.
Her eyes gleaming bright as she began to stare
Peanut butter banana and honey a sandwich with some real flare
A carton of milk to quench her thirst
And an idea that popped into her head that was just about to burst.
She ran straight home with idea in hand
Bursting through the door with ingredients that were anything but bland
She grabbed her crayons and soon began to draw
This was to be the best pie ever, the greatest of them all!
Her mother first helped her by rolling out the dough
She mixed her ingredients and watched her idea grow
Flour began to fly and her hand grew sticky still
As she twirled and spun with the greatest of thrill.
A dollop of honey and spoon full of peanut butter
Cream whipped so high, it began to flutter
Bananas all chopped up and glazed with sweetness
But the ruffles dipped in chocolate were the true greatness.
She layered the pie with the greatest of skill
Only to wait till the pie could stand still
She jumped around, waiting for her masterpiece to be complete
At last her hard work was finished and she could not wait to eat!
She pulled out a piece with the greatest of care
And took a big bite completely unaware
That she had created the most delicious tasting pie
Lunchbox pie she called it, a one of a kind, “Oh My!”

and here's the recipe. It's a monster, but it's worth it: this was a very, very delicious pie.


Lunchbox Pie

For the crust

  • 1 1/3 cups Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 stick well-chilled Crisco® Baking Sticks All-Vegetable Shortening
  • OR 1/2 cup well-chilled Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening
  • 3 to 6 tablespoons ice cold water


  1. BLEND flour and salt in medium mixing bowl.
  2. CUT chilled shortening into 1/2-inch cubes. Cut in chilled shortening cubes into flour mixture, using a pastry blender, in an up and down chopping motion, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some small pea-sized pieces remaining.
  3. SPRINKLE half the maximum recommended amount of ice-cold water over the flour mixture. Using a fork, stir and draw flour from bottom of bowl to the top, distributing moisture evenly into flour. Press chunks down to bottom of bowl with fork. Add more water by the tablespoon, until dough is moist enough to hold together when pressed together.
  4. Tip Test dough for proper moistness by squeezing a marble-sized ball of dough in your hand. If it holds together firmly, do not add any additional water. If the dough crumbles, add more water by the tablespoonful, until dough is moist enough to form a smooth ball when pressed together.
  5. SHAPE dough into a ball for single piecrust. Divide dough in two for double crust or double deep-dish crust, one ball slightly larger than the other. Flatten ball(s) into 1/2-inch thick round disk(s).
  6. ROLL from center outward with steady pressure on a lightly floured work surface (or between two sheets of wax or parchment paper) into a circle 2-inches wider than pie plate for the bottom crust. Transfer dough to pie plate by loosely rolling around rolling pin. Center the rolling pin over the pie plate, and then unroll, easing dough into pie plate. Tip For ease in rolling, wrap dough in plastic wrap. Chill for 30 minutes or up to 2 days.
  7. Thoroughly prick bottom and sides of unbaked pie dough with fork (50 times) to prevent it from blistering or rising. Bake crust in lower third of oven, at 425°F, 10-12 minutes or until edges and bottom are golden brown.

For the filling


  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Two 3-ounce packages full-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 ¼ cups smooth peanut butter
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature


  • 1 package vanilla or banana cream instant pudding mix
  • 2 cups cold milk
  • 2 bananas
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar


  • 1 bag of plain ruffles
  • 1 bag milk chocolate chips


  • 1 package cool whip
  •  1 ½ tablespoons honey

 Assembly and preparation for the entire pie

  1. Prepare the crust and press it into the bottom and up the
  2. Side of a 9 1/2 –inch deep-dish pie pan. I like to use Classic Crisco Pie Crust. Bake and let cool thoroughly before filling.
  3. Using a medium sized bowl and chilled beaters, whip the cream with an electric mixer until stiff but not grainy. Do not overbeat! Cover and refrigerate.
  4. In a large bowl cream the cream cheese and peanut butter with the mixer on medium speed until evenly blended. Gradually beat in the granulated sugar, then the brown sugar, until blended. The mixture may look lumpy, like cookie dough. That’s the way it is supposed to be, so don’t worry. Blend in the vanilla. Add the whipped cream, and slowly blending with the mixer until smooth.
  5. Clean and dry the beaters. Using a clean medium-sized bowl beat the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks. Fold them into the peanut butter mixture with a rubber spatula or gently beat them in with a mixer until evenly blended. Scrape the filling into the chilled pie shell until about ¾ full. Smooth with a spoon and cover loosely with aluminum foil and freeze until firm enough to slice cleanly but not rock solid, about 4 hours.
  6. While cooling, begin to cook the pudding and refrigerate until firm.
  7. Use a double broiler to melt one package of milk chocolate chips, dip ruffles according to your liking and place on a piece of wax paper to let cool, you may also refrigerate these if you choose.
  8. Cut 2 bananas into small silver dollar sized pieces, and gently mix with honey and brown sugar in a medium sized bowl, (If you choose, you may also cook them in a skillet for more of a glaze type banana.)
  9. Combine the pudding with the bananas, you only need to coat them graciously with the pudding, but not completely submerge them, do this by continuously adding dollops of pudding to the bananas.
  10. Gently Spread banana mixture over the Peanut butter Pie, place in fridge.
  11. Gently mix one tablespoon honey to cool whip mixture until fluffy, spread over pie until covered, place chocolate covered potato chips over the top, and cool until served.

Pi Oh My: Make a Pi-Shaped Pie, for Pi Day

There is some disagreement over when to celebrate Pie Day. Some (including the American Pie Council) cite January 23 as the day, the reason allegedly being that the digits of 1/23 are "easy as pie." Others (generally math nerds) say it must be March 14, or "Pi" Day.

Of course, this is a very silly argument, because really, it's an opportunity to enjoy pie on two separate occasions, whether baked at home or at a roadside stand, cafe, or bakery. But as a shout-out to the math nerds, here's a Pi-shaped Pie for March 14.

Use the template with your favorite pie crust and use whatever filling you'd like (I used peanut butter and chocolate chips), but know that it's best enjoyed at 1:59 PM...and 26 seconds.

For the full entry and recipe, visit Serious Eats! For more fun pie times, come to CakeSpy Shop tonight for Seattle's first PIE SLAM!


Vegans Are Totally Sweet: A Vegan Bake Sale Roundup and Vegan Pie Recipe from Cake Gumshoe Shavon

You know what was awesome? The Vegan Bake Sale that we had at CakeSpy Shop last weekend. In fact, it was such a success that monthly bake sales are in the works! Future events with Bake It In A Cake and The Piecycle coming up in March and April, respectively!

But back to this first lovely one with the talented Shavon Hutchinson, who was raising money with her delicious baked goods to go to Bikram Yoga teacher school. I know, I know. Sounds healthy. But trust me, the baked goods, while vegan, were totally decadent and delicious. Here's just a preview of a few items on offer:

...and they were baked by this adorable girl:

And happily, Shavon has offered up a favorite recipe for your viewing (and baking) pleasure, for some pocket pies!

Shavon's Pocket Pies

2 1/2c all purp flour 
1 tea sug
1 tea salt

1/2 c organic vegan palm oil shortening
1/2 c vegan "butter" ie earth balance

mix all dry ingredients and put in freezer along with your shortening and butter. it is mui importante to keep all ingredients as cold as possible when making pie dough.

put dry ingredients in food processor and slowly add your butter/short mix til resembles fine bread crumbs. then slowly add 1/4 c ice water. add more ice water 1 T at a time until dough comes together. turn out onto a lightly floured surface and need until all smooth texture. divide into 2 discs, cover in plastic and chill in fridge for at least an hour. 

now you can mix your pie guts. 

2 C prepared fruit (peeled cored sliced) or berries, you can even use frozen fruit here, its ok dont be ashamed...
2 T sugar (i like a mixture or brown and regular)
2 T flour (a little less if using apples or other dryer fruit)
pinch salt
cinn, nutmeg, cloves (if your taste buds so fancy)

mix all together until well combined and let it sit out and get nice and juicey. if using berries i like to mash up a few of em to really get the juices out. and walla...pie guts...

take your 2 discs of die dough and let em thaw a little so they are more manageable after chilling time. over-worked pie dough is not very fun. use whatever shape cookie cutter or glass top you want to cut out bottom layers and tops. now make an assembly line and fill em up. i use about 1 T filling per pocket. you want to make sure and have enough room to make a seal. once youre ready to top em off then brush the rims with soymilk or water or butter, i like the butter option the best. pich together and make pretty with a fork edge or whatever. place on a parchment lined cookie sheet, sometimes they leak yum!, brush with melted butter, sprinkle with sugar and bake at 375 for about 20min or until golden brown. enjoy!

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