We love cupcakes and cookies, but is there any dessert as quintessentially American as a slice of pie? Consider, if you will, the American Pie Council, an organization dedicated to preserving America's pie heritage. Call us when cupcakes get their own advocacy group.
So we're fulfilling our civic duty and happily hopping on this summer's pie-loving bandwagon. First stop: Three pie-preneurs, all found at local farmers markets.
Lazy Dog Farms, located in Bethel Springs, Tennessee, and owned by Bruce and Mary Scarberry, sets up shop every Saturday at the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market, with a range of whole and mini pies to supplement their produce offerings. The couple began the pie part of their business as a buffer until their first wave of crops came in.
Ever since, the Scarberrys have been selling their sweet and savory pies. Try a zesty mojito pie or a savory potato and onion pie, just $13 for a large and $3.50 for a mini. Their best seller? A not-quite Key lime pie, made with real limes but not with the small Key limes that give the famous pie flavor its name. (Lazy Dog Farms, lazydogfarms.com)
At the Memphis Farmers Market downtown, Downtown Pie Company and Grandma's Desserts keep pie tins stocked and at the ready. Downtown Pie Company is owned and operated by Ann Hearn, who says she's been baking pies for 40 years. For a while, she baked for a restaurant in Hot Springs, about which a reviewer wrote, "Oh the pie. It alone is worth a trip to Hot Springs." (Hence their business motto: "Oh the pie!")
Hearn and her husband can be found at the Memphis Farmers Market every Saturday, selling mini peach, blueberry, blackberry, and coconut cream pies, as well as their famous Lucille's chocolate pie. You can also order a 10-inch pie and pick it up from their kitchen in Newport, Arkansas, for $14-$20 or a mini pie for $3.25-$5. (Downtown Pie Company, firstname.lastname@example.org, 870-495-3894)
Nearby, Grandma's Desserts has its own line of sweet potato, pecan, apple, peach, and honey walnut pies by the slice or the whole pie. They have samples available before you purchase, and the pies range from $12 to $15. You can order in advance or grab a slice the next time you're passing through the downtown market. (Grandma's Desserts, grandmasdesserts.com, 458-2197)
Outside of the farmers-market scene, head to The Pie Folks in Germantown, where owner Audrey Anderson has been perfecting her pie recipes for over a decade. Starting with the Coconut Pie Factory in 1997, she then opened the Pie Folks' first location in Olive Branch and finally relocated to the Germantown location in 2010.
"Pies are really beginning to come to the forefront," Anderson says. "We've got all these cupcakes and things like that, but pie is a favorite American pastime."
Walk in Tuesday through Saturday and pick up one of her "Slap Your Mama Chocolate Pies," a creamy fudge pie that has won multiple awards at the American Pie Council's National Pie Championship. Or pick up any one of the other 23 flavors, including a coconut cream pie, the Moonshiner's Bourbon pie, and another award-winner, her Delightful Strawberry Pie. A whole pie will run you between $16 and $18; a half-pie, $9; a slice of pie, $4; and a half-and-half pie combination of your choosing goes for $19. (The Pie Folks, 7781 Farmington Blvd., 752-5454, thepiefolks.com)
And although it's known for cupcakes with a cult-like following, Muddy's Bake Shop is also churning out a variety of from-scratch pies every week.
"It's my favorite thing to make; it's my favorite thing to eat," says owner Kat Gordon. "The great thing about pie is it's totally limitless. It's food inside of other food! You've got a bottom crust, sometimes a top crust, and you can really put just about anything you want in the middle."
Her pie flavors are as well-executed and adorably named as her cupcakes. Try "Kick in the Pants" pie, a tart lemon butter pie, or "Cocoa Chanel," a classic chocolate chess pie. In the summer, expect treats like strawberry basil pie or a double-crust blueberry pie. In the winter, try sweet potato, apple with sharp cheddar baked into the crust, or a pie with chocolate chip cookie filling spiked with whisky.
Pies range from $20 to $24 for a whole, $2 for a mini pie, and $3.50-$4 for a slice. Pre-ordering is the best option for whole pies and bulk orders of mini pies, but you can swing in and grab a slice of pie any time the bakery is open. (Muddy's Bake Shop, 5101 Sanderlin, 683-8844, muddysbakeshop.com)