Little Pie Company rolled out in 1985, offering grandmotherly pies to a city dubbed the Big Apple. They were one of the first NYC bakeries strictly devoted to pie. Their Sour Cream Apple Walnut was the one I carried like a beacon, lighting the way to A Slice of Heaven’s menu where it lingered for nearly a decade.
Tucked away on West 43rd Street, large picture windows frame Little Pie Company’s kitchen, allowing a generous peek behind the scenes. Perched on their red leatherette bench enjoying a cup of coffee last Sunday, I had a clear view of the open kitchen. Stainless steel worktables mirror canisters of cloves, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. Cases of minute tapioca and flake sweetened coconut flank the floor-to-ceiling Hobart mixer. Adjacent to the kitchen, wooden tables tuck in closely against a red leatherette bench. The display case of sweets tempts from every angle.
The proximity of the neighboring table allowed me to see their signature Sour Cream Apple Walnut pie up close. So close in fact, that the Bassett’s vanilla was à la mode-ing dangerously within reach. This is my New York City pie, the one that always makes me long for Manhattan. Pie has the ability to relentlessly tug at me, pulling me backwards in time. My pie memories always have a soundtrack, and the Sour Cream Apple Walnut plays a Sony Walkman medley from 1985. Some of those songs were best left behind although I wonder if Wham! was involved with an early morning baker, sparking the inspiration for wake-me-up-before-you-go-go.
Little Pie Company has expanded their menu over the years, now offering cakes, cookies and muffins. The word on the Great White Way is their strongest suit remains their free-from-preservatives pies. Based on the pie box parade exiting the bakery on Sunday, I would tend to agree.
Short on time and unable to transport a pie ‘to go’ there was an easy fix for this pie craving; bake my own. Leafing through A Slice of Heaven’s faded recipe book, the typewritten list of ingredients on yellow paper was sandwiched between apple dumplings and Jewish apple cake. My disbelief that thirty years had passed was somehow tempered in the buttery crust, brimming with granny smith apples lounging on sour cream custard. Brown sugar-walnut crumble teased as the pie cooled; I plucked one of the walnuts burning my index finger and then my mouth. Patience is not my strongest suit nor is the ability to turn off the soundtrack of this pie. Sour Cream Apple Walnut? I do not consider myself a material girl but clearly I'm crazy for you.