Thanksgiving dinner is never over until the pie is served.
If you’re seeking perfection but that final course is out of your comfort zone, turn to the professionals.
There are premium pies to be had in Chesapeake Country, and Bay Weekly has found them for you. Here’s what you’ll find at six champion pie bakers, from Prince Frederick to Severn.
Blondies, Prince Frederick
“Buy fresh spices every year, even if it means throwing away the old ones you haven’t used up. Grind your own nutmeg, allspice and cloves. It makes a big difference.”
|Blondies assistants Tamera Atkins and Nathan Budd present peanut butter pie.
Pastry chef Cindy Selby and her assistants will bake 250 to 300 Thanksgiving pies in five varieties. Apple crumble, the most popular, is Selby’s favorite. All are 10-inch, deep-dish pies priced from $15 to $24.
As with all our local pie-makers, Cindy makes most everything from scratch, using local, fresh ingredients whenever possible.
To suit her standards, “the crust has to be tender, melt in your mouth. In fruit pies, the fruit has to speak, not the sugar,” Selby — aka Blondie — says. That’s what you should expect.
Pickup Monday November 21 through Wednesday November 23 during business hours.
Blondies: 132 Main St., Prince Frederick; 443-964-8140; http://blondiesbakingcompany.com
Skipper’s Pier, Deale
“If you use glass or ceramic pie pans, prebake the crust for seven to 10 minutes. If you’re using a metal pan, put in on a sheet pan or cookie sheet to help the bottom get done. Cook on the bottom rack and turn during cooking.”
|Pastry chef and Skipper’s Pier co-owner Jessica Rosage.
This year pastry chef and co-owner Jessica Rosage plans to bake 600 Thanksgiving pies in 12 varieties, exceeding her 2015 record of 450 pies. Her most popular pie is pumpkin with pecan crumbles, followed by apple, double cherry and banana cream. Rosage specializes in toppings and cutouts, artwork carved in the top crust.
Skippers’ 10-inch pies range from $13 to $22.
“They are all made to order, with fresh ingredients and great recipes I have developed and tested myself,” Rosage told me.
Pickup Sunday November 20 through Wednesday November 23.
Skipper’s Pier: 6158 Drum Point Rd., Deale; 410-867-7110; www.skipperspier.com
Chef Big Money Clow, AACo. Farmers Market
“Use a silicon pie crust protector to keep the crust from burning.”
–Chef Big Money Clow
|Chef Big Money shows off one of his home-made cherry pies.
For the past two years Lawrence Clow — aka Chef Big Money — has sold homemade pies at the Anne Arundel County Farmers Market from April through Christmas. His roots at the farmers market run deep: for 35 years his father sold jams, jellies and cookies at the market. After his father’s death, Chef Big Money took over the stall and switched to pies.
“My pies are made with love, craftsmanship and artistry,” he told me. “People don’t know whether to hang them on the wall or eat them.”
He offers 13 varieties this year, adding apricot, sweet potato and cranberry apple to past favorites pumpkin and apple. You can stop at the farmers market on a Sunday before Thanksgiving to try his creations. Pies range from $4 for three inches, $10 for six inches and $18 to $20 for a full size nine-inch pie. Order at the market or by phone, with pickup at the market or by arrangement.
Chef Big Money Clow: Anne Arundel Farmer’s Market, 275 Harry S. Truman Pkwy.; 443-223-2895; www.facebook.com/clowfarms
Chick & Ruths Delly, Annapolis
“Use all fresh ingredients. Make the crusts from scratch; it’s not that hard, but I do recommend you make one or two practice pies before the big day. They don’t have to be full sized, just big enough for you to become comfortable with your crust-making ability.”
|Ted Levitt of Chick & Ruths Delly with carmel apple walnut pie.
This Main Street icon is a premier pie-maker. Last year Chick & Ruths sold 700 pies for the holiday. This year owner Ted Levitt expects to sell more. The 10-inch, deep-dish pies are offered in more than two dozen varieties, with caramel apple walnut and pumpkin expected to continue as the most popular. All are priced at $15.49 and made from scratch in the basement of the restaurant, with Levitt supervising a team of experienced bakers.
Call any time up until the Tuesday before Thanksgiving to reserve your pie and schedule your pickup.
Levitt advises pickup after 10am the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The pies will be baked that morning, so if you plan pickup just after 10am, be prepared to handle a very hot pie.
If you fail to plan ahead, you can drop in that Wednesday, but you’re taking a risk on availability and selection.
Chick & Ruths Delly: 165 Main St., Annapolis; 410-269-6737;
Cakes and Confections, Severna Park
“After Thanksgiving, people always ask me why their crust was tough and how to make it lighter. The reason is they over-mix the dough. I tell them to stop mixing just before all the flour is blended in … the rolling out into the pie shells will work in the rest of the flour.”
|Michael Brown of Cakes and Confections with his cherry pie.
My hometown favorite bakery, Cakes and Confections, presents me with extraordinary temptation every time I drive down Ritchie Highway. Owner Michael Brown and wife Julianne have been baking in our area for 16 years, the first 12 in Annapolis, and lately in Severna Park.
This year Michael expects to meet or exceed last year’s total of 250 pies. He offers 10 varieties, with pumpkin the perennial favorite. If you’re going with the traditional apple or pumpkin and want to add a bolder choice to your table, try key lime, the Brown’s favorite.
Most pies are nine inches ($17 to $19) with pumpkin and sweet potato, also available as 10-inch, deep-dish pies at $25. Order by the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Arrange for pickup Tuesday or Wednesday before the holiday.
Cakes and Confections: 342 Ritchie Hwy, Severna Park; 410-757-7100; www.cakesandconfections.com
Center of Applied Technology-North, Severn
“It starts with the crust; a good crust is essential. Once you have a good crust, the filling usually takes care of itself.”
|Center of Applied Technology-North student An Thai adds custard to a batch of pecan pies.
This pie-maker is neither a commercial bakery nor a restaurant; it’s a high school training program that prepares students for jobs in the food industry. For the past 21 years, under the careful supervision of their teachers, juniors and seniors in the program have crafted pies and other baked goodies for sale. As the students expect to produce only 50 to 100 pies this year, each gets lots of individual attention. Every student is striving for an A, and the quality of the pies reflects their effort. Everything is made from scratch, to order. Seven types include the usual favorites, pumpkin, apple, Dutch apple and pecan, plus blueberry, cherry and lemon meringue. These nine-inch, deep-dish pies, priced at $7 or $8, are a best bargain.
Order by telephone up to Thursday November 17. Arrange to pick up your pie Monday, November 21 through Wednesday November 23.