June 25, 2019
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Bakers work long hours to keep up with Maine’s growing appetite for Thanksgiving pies

BRUNSWICK, Maine — From pumpkin to blueberry, coconut cream to chocolate mousse, Thanksgiving means pie for Mainers — and long days for bakeries around the state.

At Wild Oats Bakery & Cafe in Brunswick, Brooke MacArthur baked most of the 700 from-scratch pies overnight Monday. Preparation took days, but the “ball of energy” and mother of two came in when the kitchen was quiet to pop them all in the ovens.

“It’s really satisfying at the end, when everything is done,” MacArthur said Wednesday as she stopped with her two young children to pick up pies. “It takes all of us, and everything comes out so beautifully. I love knowing everything we put our hearts and souls into is out there making people happy.”

Elise Richer of Tin Pan Bakery in Portland was still taking pies out of the oven Wednesday. Only the second Thanksgiving for the two-year-old bakery, Richer said she thinks they’ve done 40 percent more business this year than last Thanksgiving.

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Elise Richer of Tin Pan Bakery in Portland rotates two pies in her oven on Tuesday.

“Most popular are the pumpkin, for sure,” she said. “And chocolate cream and apple.”

Customers lined up in the atrium outside Wild Oats Wednesday morning to pick up pies and other dishes — hand-cut biscuits, rolls, roasted garlic mashed potatoes and cranberry pecan quinoa.

This year, the bakery took 571 orders — well more than last year — including 2,592 hand-shaped rolls, 750 sides, 600 hand-cut biscuits and 700 from-scratch pies, marketing coordinator Valerie King-Mallar said.

Chocolate mousse pie is the favorite at Wild Oats, and this year coconut cream almost got pulled from the menu — but the staff said no.

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
A spatula and a deft hand smooth out the filling in a trio of pies at Tin Pan Bakery in Portland on Tuesday.

“Coconut is so polarizing,” King-Mallar said amid the bustle Wednesday.

Wild Oats has undergone significant growth since 2011, and owners Becky and David Shepherd now employ 56 people full-time.

Paul Triggiani of Lisbon Falls stood in line near 11 a.m. Wednesday to pick up the maple butternut squash and butternut squash risotto he’d ordered in advance.

“We need gluten-free, and they do an awesome job,” he said.

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Mollie Underwood (right) bags up goodies at Wild Oats Bakery in Brunswick on Wednesday. The day before Thanksgiving is the bakery's busiest day of the year.

Kristin Sullivan of Brunswick brought seven-year-old Sullivan and three-month-old Anna with her to pick up pies and risotto — her contribution to Thanksgiving with relatives in New Hampshire.

“We go here all the time,” she said. “The baked goods are incredible.”

This year, Wild Oats offered pumpkin, pumpkin chiffon, wild Maine blueberry, mixed berry crumb, local apple, pecan, chocolate mousse, coconut cream and vegan peanut butter pies.

“Mainers really like pies,” Richer said Wednesday. “We try to sell them other things, but at Thanksgiving, it’s the pies.”


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