Just Like Homemade: Best Holiday Pies

November 23, 2011 6:24 AM

(credit: Thinkstock)

Finding a pie to buy is easy. Finding a really good pie to buy is hard. So often our over-scheduled, over-worked lives don’t allow us the time to bake a pie from scratch. And if you are assigned the ever- important task of bringing the pies to the holiday gatherings that abound from November to January, then you better not disappoint. There is nothing worse than a disappointing pie after a tasty holiday feast.

While many bakeries, cafés and shops dish up lots of pies, the majority of them are just so-so. A holiday pie must be perfect. Usually the deciding factor regarding a pie’s worth is the crust. A pie crust should be golden and flaky or a buttery graham crust paired with a cream filling. The filling should be robust with flavor and not too sweet, gummy or gooey. Simply stated, it should taste homemade. So, where can you fill such a tall order? Here are a few divided into three categories; restaurants, bakeries, and co-ops:

holidaypies magnolias Just Like Homemade: Best Holiday Pies

(credit: Anna Berend)

Magnolia’s Restaurant
1081 Payne Ave.
St. Paul, MN
Hours: Open daily 6:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Cost: $2.99 a Slice or $15 for a Whole Pie

Magnolia’s is a place that serves dishes like Grandma used to make with big portions, most plates dripping with gravy. When I was there during lunch it was full of regulars who knew what to order without looking at the menu. Magnolia’s also has a case full of pies and servers who can spout off the list of pies available without even blinking. Magnolia’s has fruit pies, pecan pies and cream pies. They make the cream pies onsite from scratch. And they are tasty. Their top sellers any time of year are Banana Cream and Coconut Cream. They sell about 100 pies the day before Thanksgiving. The Banana Cream is chock full of real bananas, pudding and cream with a graham crust and the Coconut Cream and its sibling the Chocolate Coconut Cream are brimming with coconutty goodness.

Carol’s Restaurant
11888 Aberdeen St NE
Blaine, MN
Cost: $16 – $20 for a Whole Pie; $5 per Slice

Carol’s is not the kind of place you would expect to have so much made from scratch goodness on the menu, but it is. They made breads, sauces, jams, syrups, cakes, pies and more. The pies are beauties. Some big fluffy, creamy affairs and others are golden, crispy and sprinkled with sugar traditional crust with fruit fillings tucked inside. During the holidays, Carol’s best sellers are rhubarb apple, pumpkin and pecan. Of course, there’s always the banana cream in a flaky crust or the mint mocha in graham crust; they’re both quite tasty. Be sure to order your pies at least 24 hours in advance, and the order must be prepaid.

Salty Tart
Midtown Global Market
920 Lake St.
Minneapolis, MN
Hours: Mon – Sat 7am – 8pm; Sun 9am – 6pm
Cost: $22 – $32 for a Whole Pie

Salty Tart makes delicious cakes, bread, cookies and more, but if you want them to make you a pie, you have to special order it. Be sure to place your order at least 48 hours in advance of when you need the pie. For the holidays, they offer a number of tempting pies; bourbon pecan, caramel apple, pear ginger and a salted caramel tart with chocolate ganache and pecan praline to name a few. Enough said.

Patisserie 46
4552 Grand Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.; Sunday 7:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Cost: $22 – $25 for a Whole Tart

Patisserie 46 is one of the best bakeries in the Twin Cities. While they always have dainty, delicious tarts in their pastry case, during the holidays they make large apple tarts, pecan tarts and pumpkin tarts.  They are by special order only. These expertly made tarts are sure to please your holiday guests.

holidaypies patisseriemargo Just Like Homemade: Best Holiday Pies

(credit: Anna Berend)

Patisserie Margo
Highway 100 & Vernon
5133 Gus Young Lane, Edina, MN
Downtown Excelsior
284 Water St., Excelsior MN
Check website for store hours
Cost: $17.50 – $30.00 for a Whole Tart

The tarts will make your holiday table even more special. They’re as beautiful as they are tasty. Patisserie Margo’s tarts have a buttery shortbread crust and come filled with luscious fillings. During the holidays you can chose from Maple Nut Tart, Cherry Tart, Citrus Curd Tart and Cranberry Nut Tart.

Mississippi Market
1500 West 7th St., St. Paul, MN
622 Selby Ave, St. Paul, MN
Check website for store hours
Cost: $14.99 for a Whole Pie

Mississippi Market makes their pies from scratch in their deli. These pies are made around the holidays or are available by special order with at least a one day advance notice. Mississippi Market makes pumpkin, apple and pecan during the holidays. And according to the deli manager, they use “topnotch ingredients” to make these pies.

holidaypies highland Just Like Homemade: Best Holiday Pies

(credit: Anna Berend)

Highland Café & Bakery
2012 Ford Parkway, St. Paul, MN
Hours: Open Daily Check website for hours
Cost: $3.50 for a Slice; $12.95 for a Whole Pie

This tiny spot in a strip mall may not look like much, but inside in the equally small glass case is a collection of made from scratch pies; blueberry, apple, strawberry rhubarb, lemon meringue, pecan, pumpkin and perhaps a mincemeat or sweet potato around the holidays. I tried the blueberry and found it to be a superb combination of sweet and juicy fruit and flaky crust. Their top seller is the strawberry rhubarb and it looked quite tasty too. You’ll also find scrumptious cookies, cakes, cinnamon rolls and caramel rolls alongside the pies in the case; all made from scratch onsite. You can buy from the selection in the case or call and special order a pie you have a hankering for. If you run in for a treat from the bakery case, you may be tempted to sit and have a bite from menu too; please do. The service is friendly and attentive and the food hearty and tasty in this neighborhood diner.

Anna Berend is an attorney and the author of Motherly Law Blog. On Motherly Law, Anna writes about legal issues that affect families and offers tips and resources that pertain to those legal topics. On occasion, inspiration strikes and Anna writes about something totally unrelated to the law.You can find Anna at www.motherlylaw.com, on Facebook at Motherly Law and on Twitter @MotherlyLaw.

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