Lisa Ludwinski, owner of Sister Pies, began her business in her parents’ kitchen in Milford, Michigan, making pies and cookies. Within a year, the demand for her baked goods was such that she determined to open a bricks and mortar store. The problem? Money, of course. Winning the Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest which awards up-and-coming entrepreneurs a $50,000 grant was a great start.
But Ludwinski still needed more to achieve her dream. Her solution? Hold a 24-hour Dance-A-Thon with the pledge to raise $25,000 by dancing from 9 p.m. on a Friday night to the same time the following night. 11 hours later she’d raised $25,335 and by the end of her dancing, the total was $26,135, Now the award winning Sister Pie is so popular that Ludwinski is planning on opening a second location. Her bakery abuzz and her first cookbook Sister Pie: The Recipes and Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit (Lorena Jones Books 2018; $25) recently released, Ludwinski embarked upon a month long book tour that includes a stop on November 2, at Granor Farm in Three Oaks, Michigan just a few miles north of the Indiana state line.
“Lisa's visit is part of our Book + Supper Club Series, where I build a menu around the author's work,” says Abra Berens, Chef at Granor Farm. “For me it continues Granor's original mission to be a place of continued education, especially around food. We started the farm primarily to offer our Farm Camp for kids. That emphasis on education--and food--was part of my initial interest in what Granor was doing. It is a great way to share the knowledge of various experts in the field and, personally, for me to continue to grow as a chef by working with other amazing talents.”
Berens says the dinner will be a mixture of Ludwinski’s recipes and her own interpretation of those recipes.
“At the start we will give a brief overview of Granor Farm and then give Lisa the floor to talk about her bakery, her book, and her general outlook on life,” she says, noting that she is a big fan I'm fan of what Ludwinski does.
Ludwinski, who grew up in Milford and studied Theatre Arts at Kalamazoo College, originally moved to New York to become a director but gravitated instead to baking before returning home to start her own business. Savvy with social media(she has almost 49,000 followers on Instagram (@sisterpiedetroit) and a happy, fun-filled personality, Ludwinski isn’t afraid to mix it up, creating a delicious blend of sweet or savory and sweet and savory pies such salted maple pumpkin, strawberry rhubarb lavender and apple sage gouda. Also on her menu are scones, muffins and cookies. But when she says she uses seasonal, she’s serious.
“There’s no apple pie in May and there’s no cherry pie in December,” she says. “The reason why is it tastes better. That takes people a little while to get used to, but usually when they taste whichever pie we have available, they understand. Working with the seasonal structure allows us to be super creative, too. If I know I’ve got rhubarb, then I can ask myself – ok, what will make a rhubarb pie unique? We love to pair the seasonal ingredients with herbs, floral tones, alternative flours, citrus, nuts, cheese, etc. Basically everything that’s delicious to eat. We’re also big on the sweet-and-salty.”
Those combinations include oatmeal raisin or chocolate chip cookies with a flake or two of sea salt on top and black pepper tarragon and honey shortbread.
Community and people working together is important says Ludwinski.
“That’s another reason we’re not getting strawberries from some huge farm in California that grows them all year long--we’re getting them from Norm who runs a small farm in Ida, Michigan,” she says. “His strawberries are fleeting and delicious, and a special treat.”
Sister Pie, 8066 Kercheval, Detroit. (313) 447-5550; sisterpie.com
The following recipes are courtesy of Sister Pies.
Apple Sage Gouda Pie
2 pounds Northern Spy, Idared, or Golden Delicious apples, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3⁄4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
1⁄4 cup packed light brown sugar
1⁄4 cup tapioca starch
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 disc Aged Gouda Pie Dough (see below), rolled out and fitted into a 9-inch pie pan but uncrimped, and refrigerated
6 lattice strips made with Aged Gouda Pie Dough, placed on a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerated
1 teaspoon turbinado sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (1⁄4 stick) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
1 large egg, beaten
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For the filling:
Transfer the apples to a large mixing bowl and toss with the lemon juice.
In a medium bowl, combine the granulated sugar and sage, massaging together with your fingertips. Add the brown sugar, tapioca starch, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add to the apples and toss with your hands until evenly distributed.
When you’re ready to assemble the pie, remove the unbaked crust and lattice strips from the refrigerator. Sprinkle the sugar-flour mixture all over the bottom of the crust. Layer the apples on top, being careful not to mound them in the center. Dot the apples with butter cubes.
Place one strip of lattice across the center of the pie. Take another strip and lay it on top, perpendicular to the first one, creating a cross. Lay the next two strips on either side of the first strip you laid down, so they are parallel to both each other and the original strip. Next, working with the original strip, fold back both ends toward the center, and then place the last two lattice strips down on either side of the second (perpendicular) strip. Fold the original strip back down, so that it lies across and on top of the newly placed strips. It should look like a woven lattice.
Tear off the ends of the lattice pieces so they are flush with the perimeter of the tin. Roll the edge of the crust in, sealing the lattice. Crimp, using the technique described on page 49, being careful to push the crimps down and into the pie, as opposed to keeping them too loose on the edge. Put the assembled pie in the freezer for a 15-minute rest.
Preheat your oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Remove the pie from the freezer, place on the baking sheet, and brush the lattice and crimped edge with the beaten egg. Transfer the baking sheet with the pie on it to the oven and bake for15 to 20 minutes, or until the crust is evenly golden brown. Turn the temperature down to 325°F and continue to bake for 50 to 70 minutes, until the pie juices are bubbling in the center.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the pie to a wire rack to cool for 4 to 6 hours. When the pie is at room temperature, slice it into 6 to 8 pieces and serve.
Store leftover pie, well wrapped in plastic wrap or under a pie dome, at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Makes one 9-inch pie.
Aged Gouda Pie Dough
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted European-style butter, straight from the fridge
1 ounce aged Gouda, grated
1⁄2 cup ice-cold water and apple cider vinegar mixture, or more if needed
DIRECTIONS: In a large stainless steel bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt and stir to mix well. Place the sticks of butter in the bowl and coat on all sides with flour. Using a bench scraper, cut the butter into 1⁄2-inch cubes. Work quickly to separate the cubes with your hands until they are all lightly coated in the flour mixture. Grab that bench scraper once again and cut each cube in half.
Switch to the pastry blender and begin to cut in the butter with one hand while turning the bowl with the other. It’s important not to aim for the same spot at the bottom of the bowl with each stroke of the pastry blender, but to actually slice through butter every time to maximize efficiency. When the pastry blender clogs up, carefully clean it out with your fingers (watch out, it bites!) or a butter knife and use your hands to toss the ingredients a bit. Continue to blend and turn until the largest pieces are the size and shape of peas and the rest of it feels and looks freakishly similar to canned Parmesan cheese. Speaking of cheese, now is the time to add the Gouda and mix it in quickly with the pastry blender until it is evenly distributed.
At this point, add the water-vinegar mixture all at once, and switch back to the bench scraper. Scrape as much of the mixture as you can from one side of the bowl to the other, until you can’t see visible pools of liquid anymore. Now it’s hand time. Scoop up as much of the mixture as you can, and use the tips of your fingers to press it back down onto the rest of the ingredients. Rotate the bowl a quarter-turn and repeat.
Scoop, press, and turn. With each fold, your intention is to be quickly forming the mixture into one cohesive mass. Remember to incorporate any dry, floury bits that have congregated at the bottom of the bowl, and once those are completely gone and the dough is formed, it’s time to stop.
Remove the dough from the bowl, place it on a lightly floured counter, and use your bench scraper to divide it into two equal pieces. Gently pat one into a 2-inch-thick disc, working quickly to seal any broken edges before wrapping it tightly in a double layer of plastic wrap. Pat the other half into a 6-by-3-inch rectangle.
Refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours or, ideally, overnight. When you go to roll out the crust, you want the disc to feel as hard and cold as the butter did when you removed it from the fridge to make the dough. This will make the roll-out way easier.
Makes enough for one 9-inch lattice-topped pie.