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Move over, cupcake. There’s a new lady in town and she’s about to knock you off your sweet treat perch. Yes, she’s a little flaky. And fruity. And sometimes a little nutty. She’s sat silently on the sidelines while you ruled the bake world with fancy fillings and toppings. But now America’s dessert is poised to reclaim her reign.
“Pie is the new cupcake” declares the New York Times. And as of last week a petite single serving version – Magpie Gourmet Mini Pies – started calling , 12215 Ventura Blvd., home in Studio City. Pies will be sold every Thursday beginning at 11 a.m. Magpie will deploy Facebook to communicate the day before what they’ll be serving at Café Aldente that Thursday.
Master baker, caterer and food writer Gwen Kenneally has teamed with pie aficionado (former newspaper executive now book publisher) Judith Proffer to create a rustic pie that blends the pastry’s hominess with today’s evolved culinary sensibilities.
And, taking a cuteness cue from the cupcake’s uber-kitschy popularity, Proffer says “their spring apples ‘cuddle’ with orange zest and cinnamon, their sweet summer cherry will ‘dance with a smidge of plum’ and the Meyer lemon curd meringue ‘teases and pleases’ with a hint of ginger.
“Cupcakes connect us with our childhood,” says Kenneally. “Memories of parties and fanciful celebrations of our youth. Pie, on the other hand, connects us with family, home, tradition. They are warm and savory and trigger cozy memories of your mama, your grandmother, your favorite aunt, a neighbor.”
Kenneally long dreamed of having a food business as an extension of her successful “Gwen’s Back to the Kitchen” catering company and says “it makes great sense to enter the market with something you love.” The success of food trucks and pop ups were an inspiration to test the waters to see if there is indeed the market they believe there to be for freshly baked mini pies. The pies will only be available on Thursdays, a single flavor each week.
For nearly a year Kenneally has engaged in taste tests at parties and premieres, with overwhelmingly positive results. “It’s not unusual for guests to find their way to the kitchen to gush about the pie. And it seems everyone has a pie story. We look forward to getting our pie blog under way to hear from other pie enthusiasts about their favorite pies and favorite pie stories.”
Proffer conceived the creation of a gourmet mini pie with a savory shortbread crust and after sampling Kenneally’s homemade scones and other baked goods at various events, she reached out to her former newspaper colleague (Proffer was co-owner of Sun Community Newspapers and Kenneally was their food writer) to join her in the venture.
“Gwen bakes with love, creativity and authenticity,” says Proffer. “A luscious pie leaves me weak in the knees, and Gwen’s render me helpless. I’m a fiend for Scottish shortbread, so Gwen borrows from that sensibility to create a flavorful but not too flaky crust that houses a harmonious blend of fresh fruit and spices. I’ve sampled pie in diners and pie shops all over the country and nothing quite compares to Gwen’s rustic and gourmet wonder. And her pies are gourmet without trying too hard. You won’t see a maple pancake bacon pie. Instead, we’ll marry vintage flair with contemporary sensibilities. We’ll mix some fruits, we’ll add some savory touches. But they’ll all be mouth watering and satisfying without being cloyingly sweet.”
And that crust is a key element in Magpie’s uniqueness. Shortbread like with a hint of lavender. Rosemary and mint may show up unannounced, flavors will be paired and they’ll source local farmers markets for the freshest fruits of the season. “The pie of the week will be a reflection of Gwen and Mother Nature’s whimsy,” adds Proffer.
Each Thursday morning Kenneally will rise with the crack of dawn to bake and deliver fresh pies around 11 a.m.The pies are also available through her catering service. The pies are $6 each and a portion from each pie sale will go to charity. “Everyone gets a little piece of this pie” says Proffer. Proceeds from pies sold through April will benefit Japan earthquake relief.
Magpie Gourmet Mini Pies are available by special order and each Thursday at Café Aldente, 12215 Ventura Blvd. (Times Square Plaza) in Studio City. Check out their weekly offerings on Facebook and visit their site: magpieminipie.vpweb.com