When longtime baker Brianna Abrams left her day job as an attorney to open Winston Pies in Brentwood last year, the North Carolina native knew she had a tradition to uphold. “My great-grandmother was a pie maker, and she passed it down through my grandmother and mother,” she says. “Baking is big a part of our family.”
Of course, creating hundreds of scratch pies each week at her cute, retro shop is another matter entirely, but that doesn’t mean Abrams isn’t hit up by home cooks looking to master the art of what she calls “pie-smithing.”
“Baking can be unbelievably challenging in some ways, but it’s also a stress reliever. It clears your mind.” Her best tip? If your creation doesn’t turn out perfect, “just eat it fast,” she says. “Hot pie is always good.”
Focus on the Fruit
Whether it’s her Dixie Classic Cherry or Blue Ridge Blueberry, fruit pie holds a special place in Abrams’s heart. Investing in peak-season fruit is essential, she says, and relatively easy, given L.A.’s farmers’ markets. “Quality is key. If you’re buying the best stuff, don’t mask it with too much sugar.”
Plain and Simple
Though fresh whipped cream and McConnell’s vanilla ice cream are options at Winston, Abrams, perhaps unsurprisingly, prefers her pie in its purest form. “Whipped cream on key lime or blueberry is wonderful,” she says, “but a great pie can always stand by itself.”
To lattice or not? The woven strips of dough on top of double-crusted pies look amazing, but they’re also laborious. A simpler option: Layer the pie with bits of dough punched out with a cookie cutter. When dealing with juicy fruit pies, Abrams cuts a star-shaped hole in the top of non-latticed versions to let steam escape, which keeps the flaky butter crust from turning soggy.
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