Just like the punch line to the joke "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" the answer to "How do you make a gold star pie?" is "Practice, practice, practice."
That's one big reason Heather Briggs' truck business, Gold Star Pies, has been so successful. She's been in the kitchen making pies since she was a little girl. She credits her mom as her inspiration and instructor for perfecting a crispy, flaky crust and just-right fillings.
"Mom was a pie maker," she said at one of her pie-making classes. "She made all the cream pies for Country Kitchen Buffet. When I was 8 or 9, I started making pies with her along with my sister."
Briggs is carrying on the family artisan pie tradition, cranking out eight to 28 flavors of pies for her food truck business. She uses Cupcake Girls' bakery to do her baking during their off hours.
"I bake the pies the day before I take it out on the truck," she said. "I bake for each event based on how many people I expect and cut them into slices, seven per pie, so this is roughly 55 to 195 servings."
Slices go for $5 each until all the pies are gone - which increasingly happens in just a few hours.
She started planning her business in 2016 and rolled out the truck in May 2017. Recently she started offering classes, again in the Cupcake Girls' space. She also has a newsletter and started a Pie of the Month Club.
I've done it all - taken her classes, subscribed to the newsletter and am totally hooked on the monthly pie service. My husband wonders if we could get the pies weekly. They are that delicious.
Two pies we got were fruit filled: apple crumb-topped and balsamic strawberry. Both had bottom crusts that were firm yet flaky and never got soggy from the fruit juice before being gobbled. That took a few days, as it was only two of us enjoying the fruits of her labor. And when a slice was cut and removed from the plate, no juice ran out. Don't get me wrong. The fillings were not the consistency of paste. The filling was just thick enough to hold the wedge shape, inside and outside of the pie tin.
As the name says, it's gold star pie. The origin of her business name isn't hard to figure out.
"It was the thing to do at school - get a gold star (for good work)," Briggs said.
If you've ever wanted to make a pie like this, with a consistently tender, flavorful crust that holds up to a juicy but not runny fruit filling, her class is a must. Classes cost $45.
"The goal of every class is to teach some new skills and recipes," Briggs says. "I want everyone to learn from each other and share tips and to enjoy pie together at the end of the class."
Classes begin with each person naming their favorite pie, and they end with making a pie crust to take home. In between, Briggs demonstrates pie-making with a brief history of pie. I love some of her quotes about pie, such as one from a 1902 New York Times editorial reply to an Englishman who suggests Americans should reduce their pie eating to two days a week. "It is utterly insufficient to eat pie only twice a week, as anyone who knows the secret of the strength of our nation and the foundation of our industrial supremacy must admit. Pie is the American synonym of prosperity and its varying contents the calendar of the changing seasons. Pie is the food of the heroic. No pie-eating people can ever be permanently vanquished."
Need we say more about the merits of making and eating homemade pie?