By Dan Clapson and Phil Wilson
Let’s face it, baking is not everyone’s forte, and there is nothing wrong with that. Even the most diligent of recipe followers, after measuring flour impeccably and working mindfully with a batch of dough to get the pie crust “just right” – that golden kind of flakiness – can end up with a botched end result.
If you’re not up for putting in a solid kitchen shift at home to make some pies (be them sweet or savoury) for your festive gatherings this fall, then here are four places in Alberta where you are guaranteed to find something well-baked, ready and waiting for the dinner table.
Pie Cloud (Calgary)
What makes this quirky little spot in Kensington different from the other pie makers in town is that it is more of a pie-focused diner than a pie shop. Freshly baked pies like banana cream and pecan line the counters when you walk through the doors, but the space boasts plenty of tables and a menu that offers up savoury creations like chicken pot pie, mac and cheese pie (right?), chowder pie and even chicken and waffles (appropriately listed under the “not pie” section).
Though there are many quirky items to sink your teeth into here or even sip, like Apple Pie Milkshake, the most unusual of the bunch would have to be their signature “Marshmallow Mermaid Pie.” Orange curd and Blue Curacao liqueur make for a slightly odd, but fun filling in a pie that’s topped with whipped marshmallow. All of which makes for a very memorable dessert course!
Recently, Cloud has joined Skip The Dishes, the popular online food ordering system, so all of their offerings, which include sweet and savoury pies by the slice or whole, can be delivered right to your front door.
7711 Macleod Trail SE, Calgary
Pie Junkie (formerly Pie Hole) (Calgary)
Walking by Pie Junkie while baking is taking place is a hard smell to ignore.
Butter and flour join forces to create beautiful, indulgent crusts for all types of pie-type creations here, from the usual seasonal suspects like pumpkin or apple, to breakfast galettes (imagine a warm personal-sized quiche with a generous crust) and even Jamaican meat patties. Other savoury pies like the Aussie Beef or Cheese and Onion are baked as individual servings, which makes them ideal for fast, but filling meals during the week if you’re rushing between work and after school activities with the kids.
The sweeter pies, on the other hand, should not be rushed at all. After having the first bite of a pie filled with silky smooth coconut cream or a pleasantly tart sour cherry filling, you’ll want to savour each forkful of pie until there’s nothing left on your plate except for a few crumbs. Maybe have another slice…
Spruce Cliff: 8 Spruce Center SW, Calgary
Kensington: 1081 2nd Ave NW, Calgary
Duchess Bake Shop (Edmonton)
One of Alberta’s most well-known dessert shops, Duchess may not be at the top of your list when it comes to pie. I mean this in the nicest way possible, but it’s time to rethink your priorities! It’s so easy to walk into the gorgeous French-inspired bakeshop and become immediately enamoured by fanciful delicacies, all laid out before you in the long glass cases that wrap around the room. The bubbly staff may box up some salted caramel macarons, maybe an éclair or two, and definitely a croissant… you really can’t go wrong with those selections, but it’s time you discovered that they also have the very best pies.
There’s always a seasonal pie to pique your interest: Saskatoon, blueberry crumble, or strawberry rhubarb are all solid options when they’re in stock. The ones that you find in the case year-round are chosen for a reason: Duchess sour cream and cherry pie is easily the best pie in the city, with sweet and tart cherries bursting under a lattice of perfectly flaky crust. Banana cream pie is light and creamy, with delicately piped whipped cream sitting atop delicious banana custard and banana slices. And while not a traditional pie, the rhubarb galettes are perfect for freeform, out of the pie-tin thinkers.
10718 124 St NW, Edmonton
Vi’s for Pies (Edmonton)
If you were judging the quality of a pie shop by the number of grandmas who frequent it, then Vi’s is truly top notch! Thankfully, you don’t need a senior’s card to enjoy a slice of Vi’s pie, just a sweet tooth and a willful disregard of calories. Nestled in the Glenora neighbourhood, the atmosphere is cozy, and there are enough pies in the front case to have you second and third-guessing your choices.
The pie options rotate on a fairly regular basis, so if they don’t have what you’re looking for, try something new and then come back again the next week to try something else. The flapper pie is a solid choice, with a graham cracker crust supporting the creamy filling and piles of fluffy meringue. The key lime pie is light and tart, and the perfect way to end a hearty meal (Vi’s also has a full lunch/dinner menu).
When the only thing on your mind is a rich, decadent pie, then you absolutely need to go with the peanut butter mousse pie. It’s a mountain of smooth, peanut-infused mousse on top of a chocolate Rice Krispie square crust. Heaven.
13408 Stoney Plain Rd NW, Edmonton
Updated on 22/01/2018