Pie in general, but particularly pumpkin pie, has become a virtual necessity when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, almost as common as the turkey itself.
In recent years there has been a spike in interest in all things pumpkin, said Cheryl Standage, co-owner of Piefection Pie Shop, a scratch bakery and one-of-a-kind pie shop that opened in east Mesa in August.
She and her partner, Summer Kennedy, opened the shop because of their own interest in baking, but also because they knew that pies hold special meaning for many people.
“Pie evokes all of the memories of home, of the past and of childhood. It brings a feeling of warmth and tradition” — and pleases the taste buds as well, Standage said.
These are all among the reasons that they expect to sell 15 to 20 times as many pies during the holidays as they do at other times of the year. And, Standage added, of those, a large percentage — 75 percent to 80 percent — will be pumpkin pie.
Pumpkin is native to North America and was one of the earliest exports to France and Tudor England, where it was first used in pie. It was the pilgrims who brought pumpkin pie back to New England. As early as 1850, North American poets and songwriters were praising pumpkin in poems like “The Pumpkin” by John Greenleaf Whittier and carols like “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays,” “Sleigh Ride,” and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”
In recent years, pumpkin has had a resurgence of sorts—and is used in cookies, muffins, soups and sauces.
“Pumpkin is a big rage,” Standage said, but none of the other pumpkin items seem to be as popular as pie.
To meet the demand and satisfy customers’ “pumpkin tooth,” Piefection offers three varieties of pumpkin pies for the holidays.
Their Harvest Pumpkin pie is a traditional pumpkin pie, “using the best quality pumpkin and spices available,” Standage said.
Their Pumpkin Sour Cream pie has a layer of Harvest Pumpkin filling topped with pastry cream mixed with sour cream. “It’s got that sweet and tangy flavor that makes it heavenly and it’s decorated very beautifully.”
Piefection also offers a Pumpkin Cheesecake pie, which has a cheesecake filling with pumpkin pie spices, cinnamon, clove and ginger and a halo of whipped cream topped with toasted pecans and a homemade gingerbread cookie in the center.
The three pumpkin pies are among their 30 different varieties of whole pies to go that are made in-house daily at Piefection. Among other favorites are coconut cream, banana cream, chocolate cream, lemon meringue, country apple, apple crumb, peach and peach crumb.
They also feature upscale specialty pies, including white chocolate raspberry, lemon blueberry sour cream, pumpkin cheesecake, southern pecan, French silk and peanut butter dream.
In addition, Piefection has homemade white and wheat rolls and chicken and turkey pot pies to either “take and bake” or that are baked and ready to eat.
“We make it all from scratch and use no preservatives or additives and only the finest ingredients around—freshly ground nutmeg, real butter, real whipping cream—and we scour the country to find only the best quality fruit,” Standage said.
She said their shop offers a welcome service for many people, including individual diners and those who are hosting large groups for the holidays.
Standage said, “People want pie and they want the homemade taste, but a lot of people have never learned to bake pies or find they need the ease and convenience of premade pie. Still, they don’t want to sacrifice flavor and quality. That’s where we can help.”
Standage gives some tips for a great “pie experience” this Thanksgiving.
“Don’t eat pie right after the meal. Wait for a couple of hours, until you can really enjoy it,” she said. “And, have plenty of variety, so people can have a small slice of a couple of different kinds of pies.”
As a way to get friends or family members together who may have other plans on Thursday, some people have a “Pie Night” on one of the evenings before or after Thanksgiving, Standage said.
“Whatever you do for the holidays, make sure you add in the tradition and sheer joy that is all part of the ‘pie experience,’” Standage said.
-- Located at 6731 E. Brown Road (southwest corner of Power and Brown roads) in Mesa, Piefection is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Learn more at piefectionaz.com and visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/piefectionPieShop.