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W.Va. bakers provide variety of pie flavors to savor

Rachel Molenda
Rachel Molenda and Bill Lynch share the results of possibly the sweetest fact-finding mission of the season.

CHARLESTON, W.VA. -- As part of this assignment, Rachel Molenda and I went to (in this order) Sugar Pies, Spring Hill Bakery, Sarah's Bakery and Frütcake.

We would have gone to other places and considered expanding our search to include restaurants and places out of town, but we just focused on bakeries instead.

We paid for every piece of pie we had. Everyone was really nice and almost all offered to "loan" us the pie or were willing to donate their wares for the greater good, but we believed there was a fairness issue in there somewhere.

The point of sampling wasn't to determine which baker is better, which store is better or even which pie is better, but to simply give people an idea of what's out there and to show that what's out there varies from store to store.

And that's kind of cool for a place like Charleston.

Sugar Pies

The Elvis Pie

Bill: Very fresh flavor. The cream is amazing. There seems to be a lot going on - maybe a little too much with the peanut butter, the chocolate and the bananas.

Rachel: I am pretty much an instant fan of anything associated with Elvis, Elvis themes or even things that just have "Elvis" written on them. Though I thought it could use more peanut butter, this pie is a great tribute to The King and so, so pretty.

Newsroom verdict: "I want you, I need you, I love you." No leftovers. Just gone. Thank you very much.

Chess Pie

Bill: Nice, flaky crust and a center that could send you into a diabetic coma. The flavor, maybe vanilla, lingers in the mouth.

Rachel: 10 points for portability. This hand-held pie would be great for those of us who sleep until the last possible second and need a grab-and-go breakfast before work. Very sweet, so take caution.

Newsroom: a slower sell, took over an hour before it was completely sampled away.

Peach Crumb pie

Bill: Again with the freshness. A nice summer flavor and not overpoweringly sweet.

Rachel: There are few things you can do wrong with a fruit pie. This gem was summer-sweet and the peaches were al dente - tender, but still with a bit of crunch. The crumb topping was a nice touch.

Newsroom: Like last summer: gone.

Coconut Cream pie

Bill: Nice, if you're a coconut fan, which I am. But to non-coconut fans, it would be like waving garlic at a vampire. Very fresh, but could maybe have a stronger flavor.

Rachel: Consider me a vampire. This was my first coconut cream pie experience, and I just couldn't get into it. Being a texture person, I believe I'm inherently adverse to this type of pie filling.

Newsroom: It goes faster than the Chess Pie, but much slower than the Peach Crumb.

Spring Hill Bakery

Apple Pie

Bill: Nice, flaky home-style crust. The filling is completely what you expect. This is the pie my grandma would have made.

Rachel: Traditional. An old standard that will never let you down.

Raisin pie

Bill: A dependable crust and a very sweet filling. Might be an acquired taste.

Rachel: I am on the fence about this pie, but I'll try anything once.

Newsroom: Shunned by many, except reporter David Gutman, who walked around with the box in his hands, casually forking the pie into his mouth.

Sarah's Bakery

Tomato Mozzarella Quiche

Bill: Oh, my God ... Fairly amazing. I could probably eat this every day for lunch, die of clogged arteries, and be completely OK with that.

Rachel: Again with the texture. But this time I was appreciative. Quiche and its potential to be runny normally freaks me out, and I have to decline. But this. This was art in every way. It looked beautiful, tasted beautiful and felt light and fluffy.

Newsroom: Quite frankly, Rachel and I didn't share with the newsroom.

Salted Caramel Apple pie

Bill: Sweet and salty. The apples have a good texture and the crust is amazing.

Rachel: I ate some of this pie. Died. Went to Heaven. Came back to life and ate more of this pie.

Newsroom: See previous entry regarding the quiche.

Frutcake

Blueberry Buttermilk pie

Bill: Um, OK, we didn't actually sample this, but in our defense, we did eat a lot of pie. It was my bright idea to do this all in one day and well, that's too much pie in too short a time. Moderation, I guess.

Rachel: To springboard off Bill's statements ... I normally use "I do what I want" and "YOLO" self-talk when going on food adventures. But, I learned (pie can teach you a lot) this day that there is a limit, and the limit is eight slices of pie. I just want to eat kale for the rest of my life now. Anyway, these famous buttermilk pies were so cute, especially the mini pies, which could fit in the palm of your hand.

Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com">lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.


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