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I’m a diehard pie guy. As executive director of the American Pie Council (yes, really) and spokesperson for Colorado-born National Pie Day, I’ve taught pie making, judged dozens of pie contests, and written about pie for decades. Whoever came up with the phrase “as easy as pie” clearly had never made a pie. Making pie—and especially the crust—is a craft that only gets “easy” when you’ve made dozens and dozens of pies. And even with a lot of practice, many experienced bakers end up serving undercooked soggy bottoms, cardboardlike top crusts, and runny fillings.
So it’s no wonder that so many of us suffer the symptoms of chronic crustophobia. The answer to this flaky anxiety is to leave the pie baking to the experts. Luckily, all along the Front Range, great independently owned bake shops stand ready to supply you with an array of traditional and inventive pies.
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Keep in mind: There are some significant challenges to securing that perfect pie this year, including supply and labor shortages and higher demand due to the increase in Thanksgiving gatherings. That’s why it’s best to order your pies well in advance; each bakery has an ordering deadline and some limit the number of pies they bake. Here, some of our favorite ways to get a local pie in time for the holiday.
Tucked away in a Broomfield strip mall, the Enchanted Oven is a Japanese-inspired bakery dishing everything from elaborately decorated special occasion cakes to bento box meals (available on Wednesdays). For Thanksgiving gatherings, the bakery offers pumpkin, apple, cranberry, and cherry pies, along with sides dishes like kabocha squash soup, biscuits, and dinner rolls. Pick up a few of the bakery’s steamed pork buns to tuck in the freezer for later. Order by November 20; 520 Zang St., Ste. M, Broomfield; 303-537-4864
The 28-year-old Lakewood mainstay Granny Scott’s Pie Shop has a menu of more than 30 pies, which counts as the largest variety available in the Denver metro area. Choose from classic fillings like pumpkin, pecan, caramel apple, cherry, or banana cream; or try more creative ones like Swiss chocolate mousse or grasshopper. Four varieties of savory quiche are also available. Order by November 16; 3333 S. Wadsworth Blvd., Ste. C-107, Lakewood; 303-986-6240
This year, owner-baker John Hinman is offering six- and nine-inch toffee pecan and salted maple pies, plus traditional apple, cherry, and pumpkin varieties. For post-Thanksgiving Day meals when nobody feels like cooking, Hinman’s double-crusted chicken pot pie and pork green chile fill the bill. A portion of each pie sale through Thanksgiving benefits CHOW, an organization Hinman co-launched to support mental wellness in the Denver hospitality community. Order by November 20; 5604 Kendall Ct., Arvada; 720-271-4975 (select varieties are also for sale at Leevers Locavore, Tony’s Meats, SweetiePies, and Heinie’s Market)
A beloved brunch destination, the Huckleberry is also a trusted Louisville source for fresh pastries, breads, cookies, cakes—and pies. As it has for 28 years, the restaurant will offer six- and nine-inch peach huckleberry, cherry, apple crumble, and pumpkin pies, as well as a scrumptious chocolate bourbon pecan variety. Gluten-free and vegan pies are also available. Order by November 19; 700 Main St., Louisville; 303-666-8020
Since Katherine’s is a French-inspired patisserie, it offers butter-crusted tarts (not pies). Flavors available this Thanksgiving include fruit, pecan, pumpkin with pecan-cinnamon streusel, and Key lime with whipped cream. The bakery’s Thanksgiving menu also has turkey-shaped butter cookies, French-inspired cinnamon rolls, ham- and cheese-filled croissants, and goat cheese and leek quiches. Order by November 21; 728 S. University Blvd.; 303-282-5888
Pie in the Sky is an annual fundraiser for Project Angel Heart, the long-serving Denver nonprofit that delivers free meals to Coloradans facing life-threatening diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Each purchase of a cinnamon streusel-topped apple pie or Southern pecan pie enables the organization to deliver three free meals to a Coloradan in need. Order online by November 16; pickup locations in Boulder, Colorado Springs, Denver, Greenwood Village, Lakewood, Littleton, and Thornton.
For Thanksgiving, Restaurant Olivia’s chef Ty Leon is baking both sweet and savory pies: caramel apple crisp and beef bourguignon. Take-and-bake lasagna packages and festive adult beverages are also available for pickup. Orders accepted until supply sells out; 290 S. Downing St., Denver; 303-999-0395
While pastry chef Shamane Simons’ pie menu showcases seasonal favorites like pecan, sweet potato chocolate ginger, and pumpkin—the shop has everything from apple and sea salt caramel apple crumble pies to quiche Lorraine with smoked bacon, Gruyere cheese, and caramelized onions. Pair your choice pie with chocolate chip banana bread, cinnamon sugar morning buns, or fruit Danishes. Order online by November 16; 2825 Wilderness Place, Ste. 800, Boulder; 303-417-9338
John Lehndorff is the former Executive Director of the American Pie Council, Chief Judge at the National Pie Championships and spokesperson for National Pie Day, January 23. He founded the Global Pie Society group: facebook.com/groups/piekind.