By Mollie Bailey
If you’re looking for exceptional treats that come baked in a crust, the Middleburg area has an embarrassment of riches.
When it comes to tasty pies, you’d be hard pressed to find an area in the country with more delicious options. Here in the Piedmont region, southern baking traditions converged with the local food movement and innovative bakers to create a slew of bakeries offering treats for traditionalists and adventurers alike. While food fashions like cupcakes and whoopee pies come and go, pie has been a constant.
“I think pie is the quintessential American dessert,” said Avis Renshaw of Mom’s Apple Pie Company in Leesburg. “And aside from just eating the fruit itself, it may be one of the healthiest desserts you can eat.”
We got the story of a few of the area’s premier pie pâstisseries and the pastry pros behind them.
Little Apple Pastry Shop, Inc.
Loudoun County natives Kay Pitts and Margaret Hawes form the mother-daughter dream team behind the mouth-watering confections at the Little Apple Pastry Shop, Inc., in Aldie. To hear Pitts tell it, baking came out of necessity, first.
“My father always wanted me to go out and rake leaves, and I hated it,” recalled Pitts. “I figured out if I stayed in the house and baked his favorite cookies he’d let me off the hook.”
By the time she was a teenager Pitts, having mastered candy and cookies, started channeling the spirit of her grandmother, the family pie pundit, who died when Pitts was a child. While Pitts joked that the pie gene skipped a generation, her mother, Hawes, has found a niche baking the shop’s savory pies, which include creative concoctions like the chicken dinner pie (stuffing forms the bottom crust, with mixed veggies, chicken, mashed potatoes and homemade gravy).
The duo focuses on special orders these days, especially as wedding pies have become a trendy alternative to traditional cakes, and they hand deliver orders as far as Baltimore and Lexington. They make everything themselves and by hand to ensure the highest quality, so don’t wait till the end of the day then wander in expecting to see your favorite treat.
When she’s not filling special orders, Pitts is in the kitchen experimenting with new flavor combinations. Some of them make the menu full-time, like the apple jalapeño pie, dreamt up when Pitts was making jambalaya and had a few leftover peppers, and apple maple bacon.
“I love to put things together and see what happens,” said Pitts. “Of course I don’t have as much time as I’d like, but I have lots of ideas, and I love having this as a creative outlet.”
Don’t Miss: Chocolate chess pie. “People say it tastes like a brownie but fudgier and creamier with a slight crunch on top because it has a little cornmeal in it,” said Pitts. “It’s good with whipped cream or ice cream—but then again, everything is.”
23217 Meetinghouse Ln, Ste 102 Aldie, VA
703.327.2500 Call ahead for hours.
Mom’s Apple Pie Company
Sure Avis Renshaw may run a thriving bakery with two locations, but her first love is farming, not pies. Back in 1981 Renshaw started loading homemade pies alongside her produce to take to the farmer’s market, and no matter how many she brought the stock would sell out in minutes. Fast-forward 36 years, and she’s managed to keep one foot in the field while she’s making sweet treats at Mom’s Apple Pie Company.
Renshaw’s husband Steven Cox heads up the family’s Lost Corner Farm in Lucketts, where they run a CSA program and grow much of the produce used at the bakery. If Renshaw can’t grow it, she scours her contacts for the best fruit she can find, and she elects not to make, say, blackberry pie, out of season if she can’t find ingredients that are up to her high standards. Her own blackberries are such a hit that Renshaw’s daughter, Petra Paredez, who runs her own acclaimed pie shop in Manhattan called Petee’s Pie Company, treks down during the season to pick her own to take back to New York.
Mom’s pies are made with significantly less sugar than most recipes to allow the taste of the fruit to shine through.
“When we first got started, every recipe we thought had too much sugar; you didn’t taste the fruit,” she said. “I would encourage everyone to cut some of the sugar. When you’re getting it fruit fresh and it’s already ripe, you don’t need to add that much
Don’t miss: Pumpkin pie. It’s made from multiple varieties of squash, including long neck pumpkins, butternut squash, sugar baby pumpkins and kabocha squash, among others. “When we started I didn’t think it would make a big difference [to use fresh pumpkin], but it really does,” said Renshaw. “Each has a different flavor. As soon as it gets the first day it hits 50 degrees, everyone comes running in and wanting pumpkin pie. It’s an almost biological craving.”
220 Loudoun St. SE, Leesburg, VA
Open Monday to Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.;
Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
126 A Commerce St., Occoquan, VA 22125
Open Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.;
Saturday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Red Truck Bakery
A decade ago Brian Noyes quit his job as an art director at Smithsonian magazine to transfer his creativity to the kitchen, and he hasn’t looked back since. After a tough first year, he caught a big break when a New York Times food critic stumbled upon his treats baked in his Orlean farm home. Since then he’s had praise heaped on him from virtually every publication with an interest in food, including Garden & Gun, Esquire, Southern Living, Bon Appetit, O, The Oprah Magazine, Condé Nast Traveler and Saveur among others. Even President Obama is a fan. (He posted a photo of himself eating Noyes’ sweet potato bourbon pecan pie on his official Facebook page.)
Noyes’ pie menu rotates with the seasons, with a few perennial favorites on the permanent menu. During the summer the cherries from his farm fill his cherry pies—Noyes’ favorite—and he sources local fruit for his other creations. Noyes, who studied at Culinary Institute of America and L’Academie de Cuisine, isn’t satisfied with basic creations. His pumpkin pie, rated best in D.C. by Washingtonian, is sweetened with a caramel, with a hint of orange zest.
On baking mornings, Noyes goes to bed at 6 p.m. to jump out of bed at his 2 a.m. alarm, and on days he’s not in the kitchen he’s working on an upcoming cookbook, set to hit bookstores in 2019. In addition to a pair of brick-and-mortar shops in Warrenton and Marshall, Red Truck also has a thriving online ordering business, shipping cakes, granola and muffins all over the place. But pies are a little tougher, though Noyes is experimenting with different packaging techniques for double crust pies.
“I wish UPS would handle our more fragile pies more carefully,” said Noyes. “Right now the only pie we send is our mincemeat pie—we spent a lot of time resurrecting that maligned pie.”
Noyes is passionate about giving back to the community: All unsold bread is donated to local shelters each day, and he regularly doles out gift certificates to local causes.
Don’t miss: Kentucky bourbon pecan pie with chocolate. It’s available year round and one of Red Truck’s best sellers.
8366 West Main St., Marshall, VA
Open Monday to Friday, 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.;
Saturday and Sunday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
22 Waterloo St.,Warrenton, VA
Still hungry for more? Here’s one more you just have to visit soon!
Upper Crust Bakery
The father-and-son team of Jim and Scott Stine have been churning out decadent desserts at this Middleburg staple for decades and have earned a loyal following from locals and tourists thanks to their famous cowpuddle cookies, but if you haven’t tried their pies you’re missing out. Creations that sound as good as they taste (we recommend the all that jazz and jingleberry pies) impress every time they hit the table. This reliable bakery is hardly a secret, so be sure to place your holiday orders well in advance, and don’t forget your checkbook—your credit card won’t work here. ML
2 North Pendleton St., Middleburg, VA 540-687-5666