Hello, Good Pie

Relinquish your holiday pie-making duties to these five bakeries.

By Sally Powers May 19, 2009 Published in the November 2007 issue of Portland Monthly

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BETWEEN THE BASTING the mashing and the last-minute cleaning, who among us really has the time or the energy to make our own pies for Thanksgiving? Sure, some of you have hands capable of churning out the perfect crust while your brow stays free of the merest bead of sweat. But for the rest of us who still stand in reverence of Mom’s or Grandma’s golden, flaky crust filled with superbly sweet fruit … well, that’s what bakeries are for.

But not just any bakery will do (it’s still the year’s finest family feast, after all). You need bakeries that use only the freshest ingredients possible, and whose butter crusts are so deliquescent that you almost forget about the filling. The five we’ve chosen are just such specialty shops—and they’ll take our orders right up until the weekend before Turkey Day, ensuring that we needn’t lift a single cup of flour this holiday in order to have our made-from-scratch pies. And eat them, too.

6330 SW Capitol Hwy ‚503-244-7573
"We make our pies a bit spicier than your average bakery," touts pastry chef Jane Thompson of this Hillsdale shop. Slice in point—the spicy pumpkin, which incorporates freshly grated cinnamon, ginger and clove into a soft, custardy filling. Or try the double-crusted apple, which flaunts an irresistible pastry made with the finest sweet cream butter from Europe. ($16-26)

Multiple locations
The marionberry and pumpkin are stellar, but it’s the bourbon pecan pie for which we pine. Made with brown sugar, vanilla and a shot of bourbon to balance out the sweetness, the pie is chock-full of fresh caramelized pecans enveloped in a pure butter crust. It’s enough to make even those who prefer fruit fillings go nutty for a second slice. ($14-16)

3930 NE Hancock, 503-459-4887
Forgo the cranberry sauce this year for Greg Mistell’s organic cranberry and caramel pie, or settle upon a maple syrup pumpkin pie. Mistell, the original owner of the Pearl Bakery, will accommodate a limited number of orders so as not to sacrifice quality for quantity. "You can’t just make a bunch of dough all at once if you want each pie crust to be truly flaky," he says. ($20-30)

115 NW 22nd Ave, 503-299-6304
One of the city’s first delicatessens to offer an extensive take-out Thanksgiving menu (since 1980), Elephants’ yearly pie selection includes a sweet-potato-and-pumpkin number spiked with whiskey; a French apple pie with a streusel topping of cinnamon, walnuts and brown sugar; and decadent fruit pies like marionberry adorned with a lattice crust so perfectly executed that you’ll sigh in awe before even cutting into it. ($13-20)

1800 NE Alberta, 503-331-1420
Raised by a mother who made everything from scratch, Tracy Olson, the humble owner of this Alberta caf?©, insists on treating her customers to the same homemade hospitality. Which is why, this Thanksgiving, she and her crew will be busy making maple nutmeg cream, spiced pear and brandied peach pies—all baked in take-home ceramic pie plates. Just return the dishes later for seconds. ($24)

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