February is “Great American Pie Month” – and here in Michigan, where we’re a leading producer of countless fruits for tasting fillings – there countless places to dig into a delicious dessert pie. I am reminded of a New Yorker article from the 1980s by author Sue Hubbell (who, coincidentally is from Vicksburg, Michigan) called “The Great American Pie Expedition.” In her short story, Hubbell traveled around the country in search of the best fruit, cream, custard and meat pies. While my boundaries are limited to the mitten, here are 14 recommendations to get you started!
1. Achatz Handmade Pie Co. – Located on a ten-acre apple orchard in Armada, this company uses all natural ingredients and recipes that have been passed on through the generations to craft old fashioned pies. Much of the fruit, flours, sugar and dairy used in the pies are also sourced from local farms. Named among the “Top 10 Best Places for Pie 2010 by Bon Appetit” magazine.
2. Crane’s Pie Pantry – The Crane family is synonymous with Fennville – where they’ve operated one of the region’s most noted orchards since 1916. Set against lush, rolling farmland, Crane’s Restaurant & Bakery delivers up dozens of varieties of fruit pies – including many sugar free options – as well as other baked goodies. Stop in for coffee or lunch and a luscious piece of home baked pie.
3. Cherry Hut — Even though they’re not open until summer, I would be remiss to not include the world-famous Cherry Hut in Beulah in this list as one of the top bakers of delicious cherry pies. Started as a roadside stand in 1922, they offer so much more now – including a variety of jams, dried fruits, candies and more.
4. Dangerously Delicious Pies – It seems fitting that “Rock ‘n Roll Pie Shop” is found in Detroit. Started Rodney Henry and Don “Doop” Duprie, two well-known Motor City songwriters who are now affectionately known as The Pie Guys. They’re now baking up savory pies from inside the Comet Bar, near Comerica Park.
5. Gammy’s Pies – According to their website, this Holland pie master draws “inspiration of a fourth generation German heirloom pie cruised paired with equal parts love, creativity and craftsmanship” Driven by the beautiful bounty provided by the state of Michigan and the growers and producers whose art make the finished product possible, Gammy’s serves up a total pie experience.
6. Good Hart General Store – Located along the M119 “Tunnel of Trees” – between Harbor Springs and Cross Village – this picturesque store serves up everything you’ll need for a northern Michigan get-away – including fresh pies baked daily (in season) – including blueberry, raspberry, apple, peach, rhubarb, blackberry, cherry and “Forrest Pie” which combines strawberries, raspberries, apples, rhubarb and blackberries.
7. Grand Traverse Pie Company – Opened in downtown Traverse City on July 19, 1996 this has become one of Michigan’s most noted companies – with 14 locations across the state (and Indiana). What started as a simple pie shop has evolved into a family of bakery cafes, with gourmet soups, sandwiches, salads, quiche, pot pies and coffee – oh, and more than 40 varieties of juicy fruit and cream pies.
8. House of Pies – This family-owned and operated shop in Alanson specializes in homemade fruit and cream pies – each perfected using the finest ingredients and locally-grown fruit. Along with its award-winning pies, they have a full bakery featuring scones, breads, cookies and brownies, along with a coffee shop.
9. Lake Leelanau Pie & Pastry – Chef Gene – classically trained from the Macomb Culinary Institute – believes in using the freshest local ingredients in his pies and other baked delicacies in Lake Leelanau. Dessert pies are also sold throughout the area including Bunting’s Cedar Market, Gabe’s in Maple City, Hansen’s Foods, N.J.’s Grocery, Anderson’s Market, Western Avenue Grill, Dick’s Pour House, Lu Lu’s Café, The Leland Lodge and The Garage Bar & Grill.
10. Love’s Custard Pie – The Love family brought their traditional southern style custard pie recipes with them to Detroit during the great northern migration – and today, they’re serving up some of the finest pies around. The egg custard, sweet potato custard and chess are some of the favorites. Over the years, these simple recipes have eveloped in to 25 types of delicious custard pies. eveloped in to 25 types of delicious custard pies.developed into 25 different types of custard pies. Available at various farmers markets throughout the Detroit area.
11. Maisy’s Pie Company – This small family-owned Rockford pie making company features freshly made pies in a variety of delicious flavors and sizes – including 9-inch pies, 6-inch pie buttons, sweetie pies, fold-over pie poppers and “just a bite” samplers. Other baked goods are also available.
12. Maple Island Pie Factory – Fremont
13. Suzie’s Pies – Up in Harbor Springs, you’ll find people having fun baking pies for you to savor and enjoy. Using the finest ingredeients, local fruit, farm-fresh eggs and organic flour, these pies are available at Toskis Sands Market and Harbor Springs IGA. Also look for Canadian Butter Tarts and Michigan Shortbread Cookies.
14. Sweetie-Licious – So this cute little pie shop started in DeWitt by Linda Hundt. The entire business – with its pink and white décor – is set back in the 1950s in the nostalgic era of comfort food, vintage ambiance and quaint period charm. Oh, and her sweets are delicious! Linda and her Sweetie-licious treats have won numerous awards including the 2011 Crisco 100th Anniversary Innovation Award and the Food Network’s “Amazing Pie Challenge. Just last year, a second location was opened in the Downtown Market in Grand Rapids.
What are your favorite pie eateries? Share your stories and photos on the Promote Michigan Facebook Page.