It is as equally as celebratory as cake, but arguably the most iconic dessert that families gather around holiday feasts for is pie. (Could you even imagine gathering around a sheet cake for Thanksgiving?)
But this bi-weekly(ish) advent calendar isn't pitting cake and pie against each other. I'm not here to solve those mysteries.
What this advent calendar can do is celebrate what we, as a county, have in terms of flakey crust, delectable fillings, rooted traditions and heavenly interpretation of this beloved (and some might say patriotic) dessert.
It's kind of like the 12 days of Christmas, except we're not handing out weird crap like partridges and golden rings.
We kick off pie season at Sweet Elena's, a small but mighty Sand City institution that really knows their way around pastries and of course, pie. While her pies like strawberry rhubarb and pecan are well-loved, Elena Salsedo developed some new recipes and it's not so much about what's in it, as it is what's left out.
As the demand for gluten-free products grow, Salsedo has listened closely. So she developed a gluten-free crust that is light, flakey, buttery and everything a pie dough should be.
The best part is that those who don't even have an allergy or an intolerance wouldn't be able to tell the difference. It had rise, integrity, crispness and a nutty sweetness. The big plus for me, and my sister who has celiac, was the texture. Gluten-free pastries are often too dense and brick like. By any standard, this was just good pie crust.
For the filling try the olallieberry pie. Best enjoyed when it has just finished resting—or lightly warmed through, this iteration is a beautiful example of what Sweet Elena's does so well: good dough combined with a filling that is just sweet and just baked through enough.
Slicing through the pie is pure satisfaction. The knife is met with an opaque wall of deep violet berries. Sure a few spare berries might shake loose from the pie, but what matters is getting the perfect bite—which in my humble opinion is a little bit of crusty edge and a good forkful of the the filling. True to the nature of Salsedo's pies, the ollallieberries are just rendered down enough to keep their brightness and mellow acidity, and falls somewhere in the spectrum between jam and berry compote.