Our November issue profiled several of the nation's most progressive bakeries. Among those were five specialty pie shops and patisseries.
One of the most compelling changes in the retail bakery business over the course of the past decade involves the rise of specialty bakeries. These niche shops specialize in a specific product category, such as the aforementioned pastry and pie shops, and often cater to higher end clientele.
Take a look at these innovative shops in the following slides.
When Paula Haney opened her now popular Hoosier Mama Pie Co. in 2009 in Chicago, she admits that some of the early questions from customers took her by surprise. “You’re going to make cupcakes, too?” some asked. No, there would be no cupcakes, even though at the time cupcakes were all the rage.
Haney had the foresight to devote her new bakery to what she loved to bake: pies. It had been a long road to get there, and she was determined to focus all her energies on pie excellence.
The shop's dedication to quality and speed pays off. Hoosier Mama Pie sells anywhere from 35 to 100 large pies per day during the weekdays, not including 6-inch pies. On a pie day at their second shop in Evanston, Illinois, they will sell more than 600 slices of pie in a day.
A former project manager at Ernst & Young, one of the world’s largest accounting and financial services firms, Andrea Meyer made a series of calculated risks to realize a longtime dream of owning a patisserie. After completing culinary school and then working at Thomas Keller’s legendary Bouchon Bakery in Yountville, California, Meyer returned to Dallas and hit the ground running with Bisous Bisous Patisserie.
Today, the patisserie is widely regarded for having the best French macarons in Dallas; it’s been their signature specialty since opening. Her shop carries at least 12 flavors on hand every day, sometimes more.
Image courtesy of Kevin Marple
Speaking of Bouchon Bakery, this industry leader and its chef/owner Thomas Keller spend tremendous energy on perfecting products that already taste great.
Modeled after classic French boulangeries, Keller’s bakeries feature a wide selection of artisanal breads and traditional French desserts drawn from his memories of life in France.
Now with seven locations across the United States in Napa Valley, Beverly Hills, Las Vegas and New York City, Bouchon Bakery is known for offering sandwiches, quiche, soups and salads made daily, as well as a wide range of desserts including handmade viennoiserie, confections, pastries, tarts, cookies and more.
Image courtesy of Bouchon Bakery
Located in the historic Delmar Loop of St. Louis, Piccione Pastry bills itself as the only late-night Italian pastry shop of its kind in a bustling metropolis widely known for its Italian heritage.
St. Louis is known for its cannoli. And Piccione Pastry takes this reputation very seriously. “We know how to make a cannoli,” says Richard Nix Jr., whose wife Elizabeth developed Piccione Pastry in 2013 to introduce an authentic Italian pastry shop to the city of St. Louis.
Newly introduced Crazy Cannoli infusion complements Piccione’s signature cannoli. The choices are Lemon Gose (a light, slightly tart, wheat beer with sea salt, lemon zest, lemon verbena, lemon basil and lemon balm), Super Flare (a hazy IPA brewed with mango, guava and a combination of unique American hops, gives this beer a luscious tropical flavor with a big citrusy bite), and Chocolate Milk Stout.
Image courtesy of Piccione Pastry
Lisa Ludwinski, head baker and owner of Sister Pie in Detroit, worked at New York City’s acclaimed Momofuku Milk Bar under Christina Tosi to hone her skills. “I definitely learned about baking and business while working there! I spent a summer at Four and Twenty Blackbirds and just got totally immersed in pie dough making and roll-outs. It was an awesome opportunity.”
Armed with that experience, Ludwinski continues to innovate at her shop. She is at her best with savory pastries, like hand pies and scones. First and foremost, Ludwinski says she is inspired by the growing seasons in Michigan. “What our farmers are growing is what we are using. Beyond that, my inspirations are all over the place — food shows I’ve watched, magazines I’ve read, places I’ve worked, etc. Since I’m always thinking what my next meal is gonna be (and let’s be real — my next sweet treat), I’ve got food on my mind all the time which lends to lots of brainstorming.”
Image courtesy of Sister Pie