This year has passed in a flash, it seems like we were just starting to pick strawberries and now the apples are all off the trees and we begin our final week at the orchard store. It is a big week for the bakery. Watching Pam and her pie crew prepare for the Thanksgiving pies makes me think of the first few years in the bakery.
The store in 1980 occupied just the small room with the fireplace. The main barn held the apple sorting tables and storage. A small tack room from a much earlier era had been transformed into a kitchen.
It was exciting to have our pies become so popular and we were happy when the orders came in but to have them all fresh and on schedule for pick-up was a challenge. We had managed to buy an oven that would hold 16 pies at a time and 16 was about the number of apple pies that we could make in an hour.
My mother had been famous for her pies and I learned how to make them at her side from the time I was a little girl. I was determined that the pies from the bakery would be as good as those that I would serve at our own table.
Thanksgiving meant apple, pumpkin, mince, and pecan pies.
In addition to the apples, peeled by hand, we had grown pumpkins that year so, no canned pumpkin. I baked up dozens of pumpkins, scraped out the flesh and pureed them in the food processor. Mince meat was also a challenge. I made it also using a recipe from an ancient cookbook. The preparation to be ready to actually make the pies was daunting and labor intensive.
Customers started picking up their pies on Tuesday, Wednesday was a busier day but Thursday morning we had the crush. The ovens were going around the clock for days. By the time we closed at noon on Thanksgiving Day, all we wanted to do was fall into bed.
Thirty years later, we’ve discovered that canned pumpkin actually makes a better pie, an automated peeler peels the apples, and there is a “pie crew” that can turn out dozens of pies in a few hours. The Thanksgiving pie baking has become organized an efficient.