On Wednesday, March 14, Pi Day Pie Fest celebrates the union of math and food with a pop-up event at The Carter Payne, a multi-destinational, community building in Colorado Springs, Colorado, from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. Gold Star Pies and Mountain Pie CO serve up sweet and savory versions of the beloved past-time pastries alongside craft beer from Local Relic.
RMFR catches up with Heather Briggs, owner of Gold Star Pies, an artisan pie food truck in Colorado Springs, during one of her recent group classes she routinely hosts at Cupcake Girls. Briggs offers us wine as she walks us through how to make the purple ribbon pie crust she uses from “Pie School: Lessons in Fruit, Flour and Butter” by Kate Lebo and her summer seasonal, four-berry pie recipe.
Briggs says she derives her “pie heritage” from her mom who is responsible for making the cream pies for the local Country Kitchen, back in the day.
“I’ve always really loved it,” says Briggs. “People say ‘as American as apple pie.’ Pilgrims, pioneers, settlers and city folk have been making pie [in America] since the very beginning, so it’s really a part of our culture. I love everything pie.”
Briggs isolates the pertinence of fruit pies as she shares an excerpt from “Pie: A Global History” by Janet Clarkson, that illustrates the introduction and evolution of the baked goods beginning in medieval times through the Elizabethan era.
“Fruit pies started to come into their own during the 16th century as sugar became cheaper and more delicate forms of pastry were available. It is not that fruit was absent from pies before this time, far from it, but it was rarely a primary ingredient. The first predominantly fruit pies were still called baked meats, meat in it’s old sense as any solid food. But these were not fruit pies as we know them now and not just because of the thick coffin crust. One medieval recipe for a baked meat of pears instructs that goblets of marrow be placed between the pieces of fruit and in another the apple is flavored with saffron.”
The passage goes on to highlight orangeado pie (candied orange peel) an enormously popular delicacy that master pastry cooks presented to Queen Elizabeth I as a New Year’s gift in 1600.
The concept of pie as a luxury is a fleeting issue in modern times, especially since Gold Star Pies drives the confections around the bulk of Colorado Springs. Briggs utilizes the space at Cupcake Girls as her commercial kitchen to bake and store her products before she transports 24 at a time onto her food truck. The pie-mobile offers five to six different varieties for $5.00 per slice or whole pies are available upon request for $30.00.
“Anytime I’m taking the truck out, I’ll take an order for a whole pie,” says Briggs. “If you want to show up where I’m going and pick it up, I’ll make it.”
Gold Star Pies also offers a “Pie of the Month Club” where one select Friday Briggs hand delivers to residences or offices with discounts on orders for more than one pie. March flavors include: Bourbon pecan, tart cherry with oatmeal crumble topping and caramel apple.
So exactly how much pie does one really need? During our brief history lesson Briggs reads aloud the most appropriate response from an editorial in “The New York Times” from 1902, in reply to an Englishman who suggests that American’s should reduce their daily pie eating to two days a week:
“It is utterly insufficient to eat pie only twice a week. As anyone who knows the secret of the strength of our nation and the foundation of our industrial supremacy must admit. Pie is the American synonym of prosperity and it’s varying contents the calendar of the changing seasons. Pie is the food of the heroic. No pie eating people can be ever be permanently vanquished.”
Briggs is obviously passionate about pie and her employees follow suit. She tells the class that despite her best efforts to compensate her bookkeeper monetarily she insists on working for pie and calls it’s her “favorite relationship.”
“There’s something comforting about pie,” says Briggs with a smile. “I think that pie is like a soul food. You make it with love, you eat it with love, it speaks to your heart.”
RMFR shares some of our favorite Gold Star Pie tips according to Briggs:
- “Mise en place” is French for “everything in place.” Read the full recipe first, pre-measure and gather all the ingredients.
- Refrigerate the dough for at least four hours prior, or preferably overnight, before baking and after each step.
- Handle the dough as little as possible and use minimal amounts of flour when rolling it out to ensure it doesn’t get too dry.
- Vent a double crust pie so the contents can bubble up and breathe.
“We must have pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of pie.” -David Mamet