On November 23, Styer’s welcomes the holiday season with our annual Holiday Open House. Expect a day filled with carols, inspired gifts and décor, a terrain take on the traditional Kristkindlmarket, crafts for little ones, and what has us most excited—pie tastings! Our fresh-baked holiday pies will be available for purchase and pre-order, homemade by our resident pastry chef and pie expert, Val F. We sat down with Val to chat about her pies, and even got her to spill some tricks of the trade.
terrain: How did you get into pastry and pie making? Have you been baking since you were young?
Val: I was 20 years old and still in culinary school, casually searching for a job. My boyfriend at the time had a friend who happened to work in a pie shop. During my first visit there, I ended up bonding with the owner over a conversation about baking muffins, of all things, and she later called and offered me a job. She’s one of my best friends today, and I still help her bake during the holiday season. I have been baking at terrain for over a year now and couldn’t be happier!
terrain: What do you consider your “blue ribbon” pie?
Val: Definitely my Honey Buttermilk Chess-- it’s a salted honey pie that is warm and creamy with a flaky crust. I entered it into a pie making contest in California on a stifling hot day this summer and ended up placing 25th out of over 400 entries, which I was incredibly proud of!
terrain: Can you give us some tips on stepping up our pie game? What are some of your essential do’s and don’ts?
Val: Well, my first tip is to always use an extra-deep pie tin. I always get “wows” on how high my pies are. It may seem intimidating at first, but don’t be afraid to fill it to the brim! The more filling the better! Next, always be sure to add salt for extra seasoning in fillings, especially for fruit pies-- it really helps bring out the natural flavors.
For crusts, be sure not to over-mix the ingredients. Add just the right amount of water-- less is always more when it comes to water and crust. Make your dough and, instead of putting it in the fridge right away, roll it out, place it on a plate, and then let it get nice and cold in the refrigerator or freezer. Pie crusts actually freeze incredibly well! The key to a good crust is keeping it cold for as long as possible. The colder the butter in the crust, the better the crust will turn out! You should also make sure your dough is ¼ of an inch thick-- that’s how to guarantee a flaky crust.
terrain: Do you prefer pie a la mode or straight up?
Val: There’s nothing I love more than freshly made pie with homemade whipped cream on top. That’s my go-to every time.
terrain: Be honest: do you serve pie at your Thanksgiving table or are you all pied-out by then?
Val: Full disclosure: since we make so many pies for the holidays, fulfilling hundreds of orders right up until the day before, there are sometimes a few pies that get left behind. Since I’m usually exhausted from making so many homemade crusts and fillings, and I never want a perfectly good pie to go to waste, any forgotten pies find a home at my Thanksgiving table, where they’re enjoyed and appreciated by my whole family.
Stop by the café or call (610) 459-6030 by Nov. 24 to order your holiday pies for Thanksgiving, or by Dec. 20 for Christmas. This year, Val is baking Gingersnap Cream, Brandied Pear, and Cranberry Walnut.