Annika Corbin saw pie as an opportunity. As a self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur, who noticed cupcakes’ dwindling popularity back in 2010, Corbin turned to mini pies to fill the new dessert void in the market. In 2011, she began baking pies out of a ghost kitchen. In 2012, two weeks before Thanksgiving, she opened the doors to her new bakery in Claremont, California aptly named I Like Pie.
Baking was never that far from her mind or history. “My mom and the women in her family were wonderful bakers, and my grandmother made the best peach cobbler and blackberry pie ever,” she explains. “The connection was very compelling for me, so I rolled up my sleeves-literally-and got to work learning and remembering everything I could about pie.”
What started as a business decision turned into an obsession that’s continued a decade later. Corbin loves pie so much she even founded the Claremont Pie Festival, a day that celebrates artisan bakers and brings pie connoisseurs, like Lisa Ludwinski of Sister Pie and Kate McDermott of Art of the Pie, to the sleepy college town of Claremont for a day of demonstrations and baked goods.
“I do think pie is a significant part of our culture,” Corbin says. “Most people learn pie making from family, and if families aren’t baking and sharing pies, the recipes and traditions aren’t being handed down. Each pie recipe has a story behind it, and it’s important to keep telling those stories.”
For example, Corbin’s chocolate sin pie-a fan favourite at I Like Pie-tells the story of her first job bussing tables at a family-owned restaurant back in Detroit. The pie is inspired by a layered chocolate dessert that was served at the restaurant, and the memory of it remained so vivid that Corbin had to translate the cake into a pie. “I love this pie because it’s sweet, creamy, and salty with a crunch… plus, it takes me back.”
Although the pie has a lot of different components, Corbin is reassuring that assembly is super simple and the different aspects of the pie can be made in advance. “I’m not a fan of super complex recipes that call for specialized ingredients-particularly for someone who is just starting out,” she explains. “The idea is to fall in love with baking, not to torture yourself over it.”
I Like Pie’s Chocolate Sin Pie
Graham Cracker Crust
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (tastes better if you crush crackers vs. store-bought crumbs)
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
1. Place all ingredients in a 9″ pie pan and stir with a fork until well combined. Use your hands to spread crumbs around pan and up the sides evenly. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to help press and smooth crumbs, compacting as much as possible to make it sturdy.
2. Chill in fridge 30 minutes or more.
Pecan Crumble Topping
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup white granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt (omit if butter is salted)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1-1/2 sticks cold butter (12 tablespoons) cut into pieces
½ cup chopped pecans
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread flour on lined baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely. This ensures that the flour is safe to use since the crumble will not be baked.
2. In a large bowl, mix completely cooled flour, sugars, salt and cinnamon
3. With pastry blender (or your fingers using quick pinching motions), add butter pieces to bowl and work into dry ingredients until coarse crumbs form. There should be no large pieces of butter and no dusty flour sections remaining. Toss in pecan pieces and mix them in gently. Chill for about 20-30 minutes before using, or store covered 4-5 days in the fridge.
Chocolate Pastry Cream
3 cups half-and-half divided
3/4 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup corn starch
1 tablespoon flour
4 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1. In a large pot over medium heat, warm 2-1/2 cups half-and-half, sugar, and salt until sugar is dissolved and mixture is barely simmering.
2. While half-and-half warms, in a small bowl gently whisk remaining 1/2 cup of half-and-half into the egg yolks. Mix cornstarch and flour in a medium bowl. Slowly pour half-and-half egg yolk mixture into bowl with cornstarch and flour, whisking constantly to dissolve any lumps. You can place a damp dish towel under the bowl to keep it from sliding around.
3. Find a resting spot for bowl with egg mixture near the pot on the stove. Carefully ladle about half of the hot half-and-half mixture into bowl with egg mixture, whisking constantly after each ladle (again, a damp dish towel will hold the bowl in place). The bowl with the egg mixture should feel warm. Now pour the entire tempered mixture back into the pot on the stove, whisking the entire time, and bring to a low boil. Let bubble for about 1 minute whisking constantly until thickened and smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla.
4. Place chocolate chips in a large bowl and pour hot pastry cream over them. Allow to sit for 30 seconds, then stir until all the chips are melted and distributed. Rub 1 tablespoon of butter over the surface of the pastry cream and cover immediately with plastic wrap, making sure wrap is directly against surface to prevent skin from forming. Set aside to cool completely. If you want it to cool faster, you can spread it on a lined baking sheet instead. Remember to cover it with wrap. Use or store in fridge for 3-4 days.
Sweet Cream Cheese
450g of plain cream cheese, softened
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Place all ingredients in mixer bowl and beat until well combined and smooth. Use right away or store in fridge for a week in a covered container.
1. With chilled Graham Cracker Pie Shell, use a rubber spatula to gently spread enough softened Sweet Cream Cheese to cover the entire bottom of the shell to about 5mm thickness.
2. Next, spread completely cooled Chocolate Pastry Cream over Sweet Cream Cheese. Use rubber spatula to distribute gently. Add more pastry cream as needed to fill the entire pie shell. Make sure that the pastry cream is not still warm, otherwise it will melt the Pecan Crumble Topping.
3. Sprinkle generous layer of Pecan Crumble Topping over the top of the entire pie.
4. Chill for at least two hours before slicing.
5. If desired, serve with a nice dollop of fresh whipped cream!
The cold weather in most parts of Australia coinciding with EOFY celebrations is the closest thing that we’ll get to snowy Christmas vibes. And if you’re in dire need of some festive cheer after the first six months of 2023, grab your ugly sweater and head to your nearest Red Rooster for Xmas in July deals.
From June 29 – July 31, 2023, Red Rooster is serving up free food items, a chance to win $10,000 or one of 10 merch packs valued at $400 and other fun prizes. All you have to do is sign up as a Red Royalty member and spend $5 on at a location near you or online.
Each week there’ll be new delicious deals and prizes to win. The week one deals have already dropped and they’re looking pretty tasty. You can get access to them via your Red Royalty account. The more you purchase, the more chances you have to win.
Spoiler alert: you can get 10 chicken nuggets for free, right now. Brb running to Red Rooster.