Interview

Totally Baked on Humble Pie

Providence finally gets a piece of the pie

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Daniel Sheehan grew up in Connecticut and went to school at Roger Williams University to pursue a degree in architecture, but ultimately decided to try his hands at baking. After working for various bakeries, he set out on his own and created the Humble Pie Company. We talked about flaky pastries, funky fillings and pie-based dinosaur names.

What was your grandmother’s pie of choice?
Apple was really her pie. I slice my apples the same way my grandmother did: really, really thin. It’s totally textural. It’s somewhere between soft and hard. I want the apples to just be barely holding themselves together when the pie comes out of the oven. They should be ready to break down but still have a little firmness or crunch to them.

When did you start selling your creations?
I started selling at the Pawtucket Wintertime Farmers Market last year. If I was going to start a pie business, I wanted to experience a holiday at a small scale. So starting with the Pawtucket Farmers Market on November 2, I had a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving to see if this idea would be a viable business. I capped it at 100 pies. I only wanted to do 50 pies, but people kept wanting to order.

Tell me a bit about the kind of pies you offer.
They change with the season. For the fall we’re going to be bringing back the pies we had last year: roasted pumpkin, parsnip, maple pecan and Dutch apple.

A parsnip pie?
It’s actually sweet. It’s a parsnip custard that’s flavored with cardamom and honey.

Do you make different crusts?
I do a few different crusts. Each pie has its own crust that works with it. And my goal, when I hopefully find the time, is to expand the crust line to include a gluten-free and vegan crust. If a certain pie flavor lends itself to being gluten-free, I’ll make it gluten-free. We did a Linzor torte last Christmas that was gluten- free because it has a nut-based crust with raspberry jam inside. And that makes sense because it is traditionally made without wheat products. Our traditional crust is really flaky. That’s what you’ll see most of the time. We had a rye and hazelnut crust that we used in a maple s’more pie that was around in the springtime. We make a pate sucre crust too. It’s like a shortbread cookie crust that’s really nice with a lemon tart and chocolate tart over the winter.

Are there any new recipes you’re working on?
Well, Italian plums will be coming out soon and I’ll be making them with an almond cream base. Plum and almond is a not-so-secret combination of flavors but I really love it. Many people haven’t had plums cooked or in a baked good. So, I’m excited to gauge people’s reaction to that.

What are some of your favorite pies?

I probably ate the most out of the chocolate tart that we had last winter. The chocolate tart uses chocolate from Omanhene Cocoa Company in Ghana. It’s a company that was founded by Steven Wallace, a Brown graduate. And it’s really good chocolate, that’s the best part about it. They do a 48% milk chocolate and an 80% dark chocolate – both of which go into the chocolate tart. And that’s with a pate sucre crust. It’s a very simple custard, nothing fancy about the top. Just dark and smooth and surprisingly light tasting.

How much pastry do you prepare and sell each week?

We are selling 40-50 whole pies and 500 mini pies – it’s a bunch of pie. We sell at farmers markets predominantly, The Shop in Fox Point, New Harvest and we just started carrying whole pies at Sunset Orchards.

Are there some pies you only bake in a mini?
There was a ricotta herb pie that I did in the spring that was savory. That really did lend itself to a mini – it would be a lot of cheese for one pie.

Are you able to source locally?
I try to source as local as I can. There are things like flour and butter that are very hard to source locally. All the fillings of our pies we source locally. The blueberries are from Shartner Farms, the peaches are from Dame Orchards, our apples are coming from Steere Orchard in Greenville. We also work with Sunset Orchards and Hill Orchards. Our dairy products, milk and cream, come from Wright’s Dairy Farm.

Do you ever not think of pie?
I’m really into pie-based dinosaur names like Pierodactyl and Piecere-tops. That’s all I can think of right now

Humble Pie Company | 227-0704