I met Shauna after visiting Colorado for a Colorado Makers Meet up earlier the summer, and to taste her pies is to know true love and deliciousness. In honor of pie day (no, not 3/14, the day or two before Thanksgiving), we interviewed the cast iron pie-queen herself. Read below for The Long i Pie interview and a playlist worthy of all your Thanksgiving baking. 

Photo Credit: Caitlin Fairly

DJ Notes: This was SO much FUN!  A lot of the playlist is folky, somber prepping and baking music.  The last two songs are dancey for when the pie is ready and coming out of the oven.

Obvious question but, what is your favorite pie to make and what is your favorite pie to eat? Why?

My favorite pie to make is my Bourbon Chocolate Pecan pie because it is easy breezy AND delicious. My favorite pie to eat is any sort of peanut butter cream pie with a whipped cream topping. It’s so decedent and peanut butter pie has a wonderful balance of savory and sweet. Personally, I don’t like my pie tooooooo sweet.

What was the first pie you remember eating? My grandma’s spiced apple cranberry pie at my Grandma Lott’s kitchen table.

How did you choose your name, "Long i Pie"? A few friends of mine and I were sitting around the kitchen table at my house having drinks like we do every Tuesday; we talk about life happenings and life dreams during Tuesday night house drinks. I was dreaming about a pie shop and potentially a full-blown Americana flavor food truck with sliders, fries and pie. My dear friend of forever, Mandy, who was an English major is college, pointed out the fact that “sliders”, “fries” and “pie” all have the “long I” sound. Even though I’ve honed in the focus of the mobile shop to pie, the name stuck. It’s the nerdiness inside of all of us coming out. It’s been fun to see who gets “it” right away and who doesn’t.

What's your one piece of advice you'd give to a new pie baker? Pie making is an art form with a technique that’s hard to master on your first pie. If you get it the first time: A) you’re a pie genius. B). call me- I’ll hire you on the spot. If you don’t nail down your crust day one, it’s ok because that’s completely normal! Don’t give up! Also, experiment with recipes and make up your own. Pie is supposed to be creative, so embrace the opportunity to explore flavors and techniques.

Photo Credit: Caitlin Fairly

There's been a lot of talk on "Pie Rage"-- when the crust just doesn't work. How do you deal/do you have any tips on how to deal with a difficult crust? Oh, pie rage. First of all, making pie should be fun, so take a deep breath and put on some dance music if your crust just isn’t working out for you this round. Secondly, pie crust should be simple and as few ingredients as possible, which makes it cheap and delicious. If it doesn’t work, throw it away and try again. I feel like people either make their crust too dry, so when they roll it out it breaks or they make it too wet, so it just melts on the countertop. A tip: pour the water in gradually and make it the day before you want to bake your pie.

 Lard Vs Butter: Where do you stand? What makes the best crust? Typically, I’m a BUTTER kind of gal. The buttery, flaky kind of crust is my favorite. I’m hoping to use a local butcher’s lard in my pot pies though, so I’ll give you an update when I start using it regularly. How did you get into pie baking? When did you make the jump into doing it full-time? I come from a long line of women who love to bake. My Grandma Lott baked pies. My mom bakes pies. Being from Indiana, pie is a staple at holidays and basically around the house in general. I would always choose pie over cake on any given occasion. A couple years ago, I started baking pies for friends at holidays or special occasions. Last Christmas was no different. A few days before Christmas, I decided to bake a few Bourbon Chocolate Pecan pies for a few friends and their families as gifts for them and some holiday therapy for me. During that baking session, I had an epiphany. I love baking pie and it could be a business that could promote social good in my community through hiring youth at risk of homelessness, exploitation, and incarceration as well as producing a stream of funding for non-profits working with girls coming of out sex trafficking situations. December 2012, I started working on recipes and developing a business plan. Since then, I’ve been working the pie business and my full-time social work job. I recently have put in my notice at my full-time social work job and will be jumping into the pie business full-time come December (editors' note: Congrats!!).

What are favorite tools in the kitchen? My vintage pastry blender. It helps cut butter into the flour mix for the pie crust without warming up the butter with your hands. A key to making good pie crust is visible butter in your dough.

Photo Credit: Caitlin Fairly

I have had your pies out of a cast iron and they were delicious. Why do you use cast iron over pie plates? Is there anything special you need to do to alter the recipe to make it work? I love cast iron skillets for so many reasons! They are miraculous things. Cast iron cooks your pie quicker, evenly, and makes the crust a bit crispy on the outside. Perfection in my opinion. Typically with cast iron skillets, you’ll bake your pies between 400 – 450 degrees for 30 - 35 minutes. You need to bake your pies for a shorter time at a higher heat. You also want to make sure your dough is freshly rolled out and still cold when you put it in the cast iron. For fruit pies (especially apple), you’ll need to bake the fruit mix before you put it in your pie crust for about 20 minutes.

 What is your favorite music mix for pie baking? I really love music and will listen to a wide rage of genres while baking pie. Some days, I like a good folky feel filled with fiddles and banjos like Gregory Alan Isakov. Other days, I have a little dance party while making pie and throw on some Beyonce or Lykke Li. I hope you enjoy the pie baking mix I’ve made for you.

Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving pie? Or a pie for Thanksgiving leftovers? My grandma’s spiced apple cranberry pie. I don’t get to go back to Indiana from Colorado over Thanksgiving, so it makes me feel close to home in spirit though I can’t be there in person.

We love your mission to give at-risk youth employment and support your community and non-profits. Tell us more. After I graduating college, I’ve been working in social work for several years amongst youth, people living with HIV / AIDS, and people who are currently homeless. I’ve recognized some major gaps in services along the way in the systems that we’ve set up in the United States. One of the major gaps that I’ve experienced through my clients recently is youth employment services. There are so many barriers to youth getting employment if they don’t have a GED or high school diploma or if they have any criminal background. I want to do my small part to help close the gap for youth getting a first chance at employment which will give them experience and a good resume to launch them into other employment in the future. As for our profit sharing model, I wanted to help fill a small gap in funding for non-profits. Working in non-profits for several years, I know that a lot of staff energy goes to finding funds for vital programs and services for clients which takes away from direct care for clients. I want to help relieve some of the financial stress for non-profits working with girls coming out of sex trafficking and bring awareness to the stories of these amazing girls and the organizations that are helping them.

We are more than happy to travel for your pies, do you have any plans to expand or sell online? I definitely have long term plans of expanding to potentially other cities to do a similar set up with a mobile pie shop and youth employment services or expanding employment services with other populations with barriers to employment in Denver. That will probably be a couple of years down the line though. Right now, I’m trying to figure out how I can cost effectively sell online and ship pies. I’ve been brainstorming ideas and will hopefully find a way to get some Long I Pie to other states soon.

 How do you choose recipes? How do you source your products? Currently, I buy as many local ingredients as possible from farmer’s markets or local grocery stores. My goal, as we grow, is to source from local farms, spirits, and chocolate makers. If any readers have Colorado farmers that you know that I should talk to, please email me at hello@thelongipie.com As for recipes, I use old family recipes passed down from generation to generation or experimental recipes that I come up with in my kitchen. I believe that pie is a consumable art form and makes people feel at home, so I feel like my recipes should accurately represent my belief about pie.

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? I’m thankful for new opportunities each day and the beautiful, dear friends and family that I get to experience this life with through laughter and tears.

For more info on Shauna and The Long i Pie Shop, visit her website, Follow her on Instagram & Twitter.

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