This recently past Pi Day, I did not bake a pie.
Yes, you heard me. I had very little motivation to bake a Pi Day pie for 2021, due to generally being overcommitted; you gotta know when to pull the brakes a little bit, friends. I did, however, know that Pi Day was coming up, and something in my soul felt a strong need to do *something* to celebrate. I even thought about driving all the way to one of my favorite pie meccas in LA to pick up a special pie treat, but knew I wouldn’t have the time.
Then, a few days prior to Pi Day, my friend and former coworker Erin, who lives in the Santa Clarita Valley, sent me a link to a Pi Day Auction to be held on Facebook over the course of the big day. Erin thought I’d like to peruse the photos of baked goodies being offered (mainly pies), and of course she was right. I drooled over pies like Ube, Earl Grey, and Summer Beach, and set my heart on a Fromage Blanc pie topped with Passionfruit syrup made by an artisanal local ranch… I mean, COME ON! I quickly decided I wasn’t here just to look. I was here to win.
Fast forward to Pi Day. A Sunday, first and foremost, filled with lots of church activities (mainly virtual). I took some glimpses at the auction page activity in the morning and afternoon and placed several bids, knowing that crunch time would really be 7:50-8:00 pm, right before the auction was scheduled to end.
And let me tell you, that was a stressful ten minutes. My heart was pounding. Competition was fierce. I honed in on what had become my top two choices; Crack Pie and the aforementioned Fromage Blanc. I was using my computer to bid on one and my phone to bid on another. The computer/Fromage Blanc lost (after multiple bids upwards of $100!!) The phone/Crack Pie won! What a rush.
Soooo Jessica, what is Crack Pie, anyway?
Crack Pie: (n) A gooey, sugary, buttery, toffee-y filled oat cookie crust, with a cringe-y name (yes, it’s addictive. And no, drug jokes aren’t funny). Originally created by Christina Tosi of Milk Bar fame, the pie’s official name is now Milk Bar Pie: I just learned that now when I was researching how y’all could possibly buy this pie if you wanted one badly after reading this post: Here’s how.
And here’s the the verbatim description of the pie as posted to the auction page, if you weren’t drooling enough already. A faithful re-creation of the world-famous Crack Pie from Momofuku Milk Bar, described as “toasted oat crust, gooey butter cake meets chess pie.” Incredibly dense with flavor, this pie is potent enough to serve a crowd, yet addictive enough to destroy the willpower of one.
This pie was baked for me by Danika, one of the bakers who comprise the Speakeasy Bakery. With a name like that, you’d infer there was more to the story, and you’d be right. In fact, this bakery is not a stone-and-mortar location at all, but rather a network of bakers in the Santa Clarita Valley which started out as a means to share sourdough bread starters among friends and neighbors. Sounds awesome, right? It gets better; in chatting with Scott Ervin, the auction-master, I heard the story of how he and his friends began the group and how it has snowballed to included hundreds of home bakers. The Speakeasy Bakery has held an annual Pi Day auction for the past 6 or 7 years, with the proceeds going to the nonprofit feedSCV, which Scott co-founded with Todd Wilson. Look them up on social media (@feedscv) to learn more if you’re interested, particularly if you’re in the LA area. They’re serving their community in really creative ways; besides holding food drives, there are community cooking classes, and their stated goal is to “make eating fresh, local and sustainable every day within everyone’s reach”. That is a mission that speaks straight to my soul.
Danika and her extraordinary Crack Pie met me at a park in the Santa Clarita Valley. Pippa and I made an occasion out of the 45-minute-drive and met up with some of her Sunday School buddies. Here are some obligatory cute kid pics to brighten your day. We’re starting to be able to get together with a wider circle of friends outdoors and it feels really, really good.
P.S. Now I’m just being mean but the actual taste of Danika’s Crack Pie (sprinkled with powdered sugar by moi prior to serving, with my brand new shaker!) was nothing short of any of the mouthwatering epithets I’ve already shared.
To Scott, Danika, and the rest of the Speakeasy members; thank you for letting me have a fun and educational glimpse into your secret society, though I neither live in your valley or have ever baked a loaf of sourdough bread. (But, never say never!) And to Erin, thanks for sending me into this delightful little pie story. Adios everyone!