PICTURED: 805 Pies’ apple pie with a leaf pattern on top. Photo by N. Lackey Shaffer
by Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer
What’s more comforting than a slice of freshly baked pie?
With sweet fruit fillings surrounded by tender, flaky, buttery crust, pies bring up images of hearth and home — family, warmth, nourishment. More than a dessert, superior to your average snack, pie is, in my opinion, perfect any time of day or night. Wonderfully satisfying when it’s warm from the oven (with or without a scoop of ice cream or dollop of whipped cream), a cold slice — perhaps enjoyed during a midnight fridge raid — offers its own culinary pleasure as well.
There’s pleasure, too, in baking a pie. The process, however, can be time consuming, and of late I find myself turning to the experts when I have a hankering. Local bakeries are of course the best place to look, and it doesn’t get more local than 805 Pies.
805 Pies is a home-based business in Santa Paula operated by Jessica Zavala, who has a cottage food law permit to sell certain goods prepared in her own kitchen to the public. Restrictions prevent 805 Pies from offering cream-based pies or anything with nuts, but there’s a wonderful array of fruit pies on the menu. Choices include apple, cherry, mixed berry and blueberry, in mini (three inch), hand (five inch) and whole pie (nine inch) sizes. Strawberry is available February through July, and Zavala sometimes offers seasonal specials. Mini and hand pies come in five, six, nine and 12 packs.
Normally, 805 Pies requires that orders be placed 72 hours in advance — easily done from its website. My plan was to pick up a pack of hand pies to sample a variety of flavors with my family. But November has been a busy time for Zavala — she told me she had something like 160 pies to prepare for Thanksgiving orders, and was unable to take on additional work before December. She did, however, have a single large apple pie available for pick up as part of her “Friendsgiving” offerings. Any pie is better than no pie, and I like apple just fine, so I was happy to drive out to Santa Paula on a Friday afternoon for a home-baked treat. I was rewarded with the scent of apple pie filling my car all the way home.
Neatly packaged in a white box, the pie was as professional as anything from a more traditional bakery. It cut a handsome figure, too: perfectly golden brown, scalloped with just a touch of irregularity (adding to its rustic charm) and topped with a lattice of intricate maple leaves. Creating such a pretty, delicate pattern out of pie crust requires some skill indeed.
The real proof of Zavala’s baking prowess is in the flavor, though. The beautiful crust is also wonderfully flaky with a buttery quality that melts in the mouth. The filling is all about the fresh, tart taste of green apples. There’s a hint of cinnamon, but not a lot of sugar — Zavala lets the apples shine. The 805 Pies website states that “Grandma would be proud of our rendition of this pie,” and I think that’s about right.
My only regret is that I didn’t order in time to sample more flavors. I long to try the 805 Pies version of berry pie. Zavala’s own favorite is cherry, and I’m guessing extra love and care goes into that one.
I might have missed out for Thanksgiving, but I know I’ll be placing my order early for Christmas! Although, really, there’s no reason to wait for a holiday. Any day with pie is a special occasion all its own, and 805 Pies provides plenty of opportunity to celebrate.