March 14 is National Pie Day, and pie-lovers in Connecticut can rejoice, for there are many great bakeries around the state where they can go and buy the fruit, cream, nut or other pie of their dreams with which to mark that glorious date. Some are small neighborhood bakeries that have been in the same family for generations, and others are newer shops run by award-winning and classically trained bakers. Connecticut is farm country, moreover, so there are also large orchards and other farms which have their own markets and bakeries on the land where the fresh fruit for their pies is grown. Connecticut is a pie-lovers paradise, and here are just five of the top bakeries in the state to visit on Pie Day.
666 Main Ave.
Norwalk, CT 06851
People come from all over Norwalk and the surrounding towns to get pies from Michele Stuart, but now those who have moved away can order select pies which this 27-time National Pie Baking champion. Despite this expansion of her customer base, all of the pies at Michele’s are still made individually and by hand and with only fresh ingredients. They make fruit, cream and nut pies to order, and for those who want to try to emulate her success in their own kitchens, Michele also sells her two cookbooks: Perfect Pies, and Perfect Pies & More.
Blackberry River Baking Co.
18 E. Main St.
Canaan, CT 06018
Although best known for her amazing cakes, Audrey Leary of the Blackberry River Baking Co. in Canaan also makes great pies. Give her two days notice and she and her assistant baker Nicole Beattie will have ready for pick up a sumptuous apple, blueberry or other fruit pie, or one of their signature cream pies — notably a banana cream or her specialty, Boston Creme. There are always fresh baked treats such as breads, eclairs, macaroons, muffins, cakes and other pastries at her place, which she owns with husband Sam, available at lunch and breakfast or for those who dash in just to get something to go or bring home for dessert.
1355 Boston Post Road
Guilford, CT 06437
Now in their 15th decade growing apples, peaches, berries and more on their land in Guilford, the Bishop family knows fruit — and knows how to make the most of it in a pie. Bishop’s Orchards down near the shore not only sells fresh fruit in season, they also have a farm market and bakery that makes and sells pies year-round. The apples in their pies, even out of season, however, taste fresh thanks to the “Crisp Air” atmosphere control system in their storage facilities. That freshness is just one of the reasons why Bishop’s Orchards routinely makes the cut on magazines and websites which advise their rears of the best places to buy fruit pies in Connecticut.
Elmwood Pastry Shop
1136 New Britain Ave.
West Hartford, CT 06110
The pride of the pie side of this bakery, which also offers breads, cakes, cookies and other treats, however, is the Apple Caramel. The caramel is drizzled all over the top, and when heated, it will bubble – although it is delightful even served chilled or at room temperature. This family-owned bakery has been a landmark in the neighborhood for nearly 70 years, and for many good reasons, starting with their luscious pies.
Granny’s Pie Factory
103 School St.
E. Hartford, CT 06018
There are more than four dozen kinds of pie on the menu at Granny’s Pie Factory in East Hartford, and bakers Anton, Joan and Nikos Harovas family insist that each one must be made like “we would prepare for ourselves and our family.” The Harovas family will do custom orders for individuals, offices, restaurants and stores, and has both a retail and a wholesale business. Individual pies are sold for cash only in the storefront, but they do large orders for many stores and groups in the area, and will ship frozen pies anywhere in the country.
Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at Examiner.com.