We’re heading into prime pie season, that period when it’s perfectly acceptable to take the gourds and fruits of fall and bake them into flaky golden crusts with unseemly amounts of sugar and butter. Hey, we need those extra calories for winter (even if some of us have replaced chopping firewood with surfing the Web)!
Regardless of our reason for desiring pie in fall — I’ll chalk mine up to an addiction to the aromas that fill the kitchen — it’s not always feasible in our work-loaded lives to bake these rounds ourselves. This gap in supply and demand is just the space for people like Jenna Huntsberger, the blogger/communications specialist turned professional baker.
Despite losing her business partner, Stephanie Willis, who decided to focus on her government career and health last year, Huntsberger has increased her production at Whisked!
With the help of some part-time bakers, Huntsberger now sells her pies and/or bar cookies not only at a few farmers markets but also at Qualia Coffee, the Cupboard store, Pleasant Pops Farmhouse Market and Cafe and on the Big Cheese food truck. What’s more, in anticipation of the holiday season, Whisked! is teaming up with Qualia owner Joel Finkelstein for a one-day Pop-Up Pie Shop at the coffeehouse at 3917 Georgia Ave. NW. The pop-up will take place from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11.
It’s a symbiotic relationship, Huntsberger says, between her pies and Finkelstein’s coffee program: Both are small operations focused on seasonal ingredients (yes, seasonal coffee) and artisanally crafted products. “I think the two complement each other nicely,” Huntsberger says. “I really jumped at this opportunity to do this with [Finkelstein].”
Huntsberger is still working out the logistics of the Whisked! pop-up, but the owner thinks she may sell her pies outside on Qualia’s back patio, no matter the weather. Not to worry: Huntsberger can handle it. She set up a stand last year at the Downtown Holiday Market in Penn Quarter, which runs throughout most of December.
“If I can handle that, I can totally handle being outside in November,” she says.
Huntsberger expects to have some 40 pies, quiches and tarts on hand. She’ll have at least 10 each of her salted caramel apple pie (“the most popular I’ve ever done”); Mexican chocolate cream pie (“I started doing more cream pies because it’s fall, and we don’t have much fruit to play with”); bacon, leek and Gruyere quiche; and kabocha squash and goat cheese tart. She’ll also take orders for her Thanksgiving pies and quiches at the pop-up; you can see her offerings here.
Another (mostly) homeless pie company is also taking orders for the holidays. The Connecticut-Copperthite Pie Baking Co. (or CoCo Pie Co. for short) is a revival of an old family-owned, Georgetown-based bakery that dates back to 1886. Michael Copperthite, the great-great grandson of founder Henry Copperthite, is presently selling pies out of the StarNut Gourmet store in McLean. You can place an order by calling StarNut at 703-749-9090.
Michael Copperthite says he personally had nine of CoCo Pie Co.’s 29 original recipes in his possession. For the holidays, the company is offering six pies for sale: apple, pumpkin, blackberry, peach, cherry and rhubarb. A 92-year-old former baker from CoCo Pie’s old (and now defunct) Newport News facility has been hired, Copperthite notes, to serve as the official taste tester, as contemporary bakers try to adapt the old recipes.
“It’s the second-best pie you’ll ever eat,” Copperthite promises, pointing out that nothing beats the memories of mom’s pie. “If you don’t think so, I’ll eat the box after you tell me it isn’t.”
Although he had hoped to open a retail store this fall, Copperthite says he’s still in negotiations for a space in Georgetown. He hopes to open next year, but in the meantime, the company has bought a facility in the Shenandoah Valley, where it bakes pies and ships them to wholesale customers and catered events. And to StarNut Gourmet for holiday sales.
“We have to be right,” Copperthite says about a retail operation, “so we’re not going to open up. . . until we are exactly what we say we are.”
Which, presumably, is the second-best pie you’ve ever tasted.