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If there’s one thing we can all agree on this year, it’s that pie is essential.  Whether you are an apple pie traditionalist or someone willing to entertain another seasonal flavor, Sandpiper Bakery in Gloucester has one of the best reputations for pie on the North Shore for a (delicious) reason.

Simple but sophisticated, Sandpiper’s pastries prove the love and care owner and baker Susanne Clermont puts into every bite. The bakery prides itself on using traditional techniques that combine elements of French, English, and American baking that yield results as nice to look at as they are to eat.

Whether you go with their traditional double crust apple pie, their bourbon pecan, their brown butter pumpkin, or their poached pear cranberry with beautiful lattice work, there’s a pie to suit every palate. 

With a commitment to sourcing local ingredients and sustaining strong relationships with area farmers and artisans, Clermont can’t overstate how important using fresh and seasonal items is to her. It makes sense to cook and bake with the seasons, and here on the North Shore, Clermont is especially appreciative of all of the local farms, where top-notch ingredients are often quite literally just down the road. “We feel so lucky to live in a community that really values food and quality and where ingredients come from because it can and does make all the difference,” she says. 

“The variety of apples, the spices we use in our pumpkin pie, even the type of bourbon we select for our pecan pie, all of it has an impact on the final product,” she explains. Clermont believes in a balanced pastry, something that ends up in that perfect place that exists between savory and sweet. Her baking is about elevated simplicity, something that might appear deceptively simple, but in reality is a product of her impressive technical skill set and ability to consistently produce timeless classics. 

As a general rule, a big part of baking is about taking your time. Clermont insists it’s both necessary and worth it to set aside the proper amount of time and to take your time once you begin. Rolling pie dough is a perfect example of this; it’s a process that cannot be rushed if you want to get it right.

Clermont advises bakers to “take their time rolling out dough and cutting it. Very cold dough is what you want to be working with,” so don’t skip the chilling, which takes, you guessed it, a little time. “We really like making pies. Yes, the process has steps but the final products are so beautiful that’s it all very much worth it to us,” she says. 

Amateur bakers often fret over getting piecrust just right and to this Clermont advises people to relax, have fun and just practice. Regardless of the final product, making a pie from scratch should be a joy for both the baker and the people enjoying it.

During this busy baking season, the bakery will be hard at work taking both online and phone orders for holiday pies up until the week before Thanksgiving. Clermont is committed to an organized pie pickup process to ensure all customers feel safe and socially distanced throughout. In addition to their pies and pastries, Sandpiper also makes a host of other delights, including out of this world breakfast sandwiches, quiches, and other items.

Pie Advice from Piping Plover Baking Co.

Piping Plover Baking Co. in Amesbury gives advice on making gluten-free and vegan pies this Thanksgiving. 

Owner and baker Erin Silvia knows gluten free and vegan baking. In fact, she’s built her entire business around it. Pies are one of her favorite things to create and while baking gluten free and vegan might seem challenging, it’s not. Here are some of her tips and tricks:

Never use room- temperature or warm water. Instead, use ice water.

Roll pie dough between two pieces of parchment paper dusted with your gluten free flour of choice.

Add an acid to your ice water (Silvia recommends apple cider vinegar). This helps keep the dough tender. Use one teaspoon per 1/3 cup of water.

Room temperature (not soft) coconut oil is a great substitute for shortening.  

If you choose to use coconut oil, you can skip the traditional chilling of pie dough before rolling. A chilled dough made with coconut oil will be too hard to roll. 

Gluten-free flours need a few minutes to fully hydrate. Allow your dough to rest for 5 minutes and evaluate if more water is needed before you roll it out. 

Because butter is not used in vegan baking, salt is an important flavor component—don’t skip it.