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Every day should be 'pie day,' they insist

Two women have opened the Pie Bakery & Cafe in a Boston suburb in order to spread the news of this simple comfort food.

By Jennifer WolcottCorrespondent of The Christian Science Monitor / January 2, 2008

The owners say crumb crusts can make any pie easy to prepare and delicious to eat, such as on this Harvest pie.

Melanie Stetson freeman – staff

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If you're like most of us, you've probably eaten your fill of pie during the past month or so. Thanksgiving feasts typically feature at least a few pies such as classic apple, pumpkin, and pecan – and it's rude, of course, not to sample all three. Then this popular dessert is enjoyed again and again during the December holidays.

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So you might feel a tad "pied out" by now.

But Ellen Kaplansky and Paige Retus hope not. "Every day should be pie day," insists Ms. Kaplansky, owner of Pie Bakery & Cafe in Newton Center, Mass., where Ms. Retus is the executive pastry chef. "Who doesn't love pie? It evokes comfort and good memories. When you mention pie, you have to smile."

Kaplansky and Retus often celebrate Thanksgiving together, and one year, while savoring slices of homemade pumpkin pie, they mused about why pies are not enjoyed much during other times of year. Soon after, they got right to work, cobbling together a business plan, checking out the competition, and touring neighborhoods; their vision became reality just last week.

In a time and season when people are gravitating toward simple, more old-fashioned comfort foods, they might be on to something. Even Retus, who has a fancy background as executive pastry chef to celebrity chef Todd English, with whom she co-wrote "The Olives Dessert Table," likes pie for its down-home, no-nonsense appeal.

"We are really loopy about pie," says Kaplansky, adding that their bakery doesn't just offer the old sweet standbys, but that they venture into savory pies as well, especially those from other cultures such as empanadas (Spain, Latin America), calzones (Italy), and spanikopita (Greece).

Pie isn't a dessert that requires a culinary degree to make, says Retus, who happens to be a graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. Kaplansky, who attended the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, agrees.

But still, they acknowledge, many home cooks get jittery about making pie – especially the crust. For these cooks, Kaplansky and Retus recommend taking a few shortcuts. "Buy the pie shell and recrimp it to make it your own," suggests Retus. "And if the top crust makes you nervous, make a crumb crust instead. It's much easier."