There was once the most amazing pie shop in this little seaside town. Here's what my family and I found at Pie In The Sky Bakery in Cape Neddick, Maine.
One year my family and I had the great fortune to visit a wonderful bakery in Southern Maine called Pie in the Sky.
At the time my mother divided her time between Vermont and this part of Maine, and she had been telling me for years that I just had to get to this bakery. While on vacation one summer, we finally made it. We spent that morning shopping and lunching just down the road in York Beach, and then we drove to Cape Neddick for pie.
The big red house on Route 1
We found Pie in the Sky right off of Route 1 in a large house painted in vinaceous red, with lovely, twisted wisteria trees bordering the driveway. On top of the sign hanging from the corner of the building was a small, wooden figure pointing to the sky, a quiet and earnest beacon for folks seeking the perfect pie.
The owners, John and Nancy had this on their bakery website:
"Celebrating our 33rd year! Our family-owned (in-home) bakery continues to use AA unsalted butter, no preservatives, no transfats, and lots of hard labor to bring you an unforgettable product. Our handcrafted pies are 10 inches deep and serve at least 8."
Speaking of pie here's one of my faves: Salted Caramel Chocolate Cream Pie
Inside the bakery
When we walked into the bakery, the first thing that struck me was the coziness of the space. The countertop and glass case full of pies and muffins were just a few feet inside the door, next to a colorful chalkboard listing the dozens of pies available that day.
To the right were glass jars full of cookies (the largest cookies I had ever seen—4 x 4-inch slabs and 2 inches thick!) From a column behind the cookies hung dozens of spring-form pans and massive beater attachments for the stand mixer.
Shelves behind this held more tools of the baker's trade, as well as a row of well-used cookbooks. On the walls hung pans, baking sheets, and utensils. A massive Blodgett oven anchored the kitchen, and pies cooled nearby. There was nothing contrived or forced about this bakery's atmosphere (seems like there are a lot of those lately.) It is a bakery kitchen that also feels like a comfy, home kitchen.
Did I mention the stand mixer? It stood behind the counter, as tall as me, and painted fire-engine-red. The mixer was made in 1932 and was so heavy that it required special supports built into the floor underneath it. I thought about that beast of a stand mixer long after we left!
We met the lovely owners of this lovely shop
The owners, John and Nancy Stern, were so warm and friendly. Because my mother had gone to this bakery for so many years, she and Nancy had grown to be good friends. They shared about their lives, their kids, their love of good food, and even swapped cookbooks.
Nancy happily chatted with me about their bakery journey and showed me the layout of the storefront and the kitchens. Their home was that same building, located right behind the bakery through a set of swinging doors. I was in awe, it just felt wonderful in there.
The best part: sampling the sweets
Talk about a tough choice! We were surrounded by so much deliciousness. However, we were also in the middle of a camping trip, so buying every last pie on the shelves just wasn't an option. In the end, we chose a Sour Cream Blueberry Pie and several of those huge cookies: Chocolate Chip, Gingerbread, and one called Ranger, made with oats, coconut, chocolate, and nuts.
I hugged Nancy goodbye with a promise to return next summer. (Dang it, why did it take me so long to visit that place??) We toted our baked luscious treats back to our campsite in Old Orchard Beach to share with the family.
The cookies were scrumptious, soft, and sweet. The Chocolate Chip cookies were made exactly the way I like them: with lots of gooey chocolate!
My favorite cookie that evening was the spicy, sugar-crusted Gingerbread cookie (I must have been dreaming of the holidays that day.)
And then... that pie, that pie. A beautiful pie deeply filled with a luscious Maine blueberry and sour cream filling, topped with a toasted almond crumb crust. It was just divine.
We definitely blew away the competition for campfire dessert that night: the S'mores staples were set aside as our family hungrily dug into this pie. We enjoyed those rich, filling slices by the fire and then had even more for breakfast the next morning. (After breakfast I hoarded away the last remaining sliver in our cooler to take back home with me.)
Here's another way to love blueberries: This cool, Peach Blueberry Sorbet.
A bakery to remember
Christian and I spent the ride home to Vermont talking about that pie. And we couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to have a bakery attached to our living room.
Update: Pie In The Sky Bakery sold its last pie in 2016, closing up so that owners John and Nancy could retire after an incredible 35 years of making pies! Here's a link to an article about Pie In The Sky and its local legacy.