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For our money, the best innovation in American baked goods since sliced bread might be mail-order pie: great regional wonders delivered directly to your doorstep.
For handmade butterscotch chip (A), pecan (H), or Texas Trash (M)—a carnival of pecans, caramel, coconut, chocolate chips, graham crackers, and pretzels—we turn to Texas’s Royers Round Top Café (979/249-3611; royersroundtopcafe.com).
The** Key lime pie** (B) from Key West Key Lime Pie Co._ (877/882-7437; keywestkeylimepieco.com)_ has a silky filling and a bright lime bite; a more portable option is the Key lime pie bar (K), a slice dipped in dark chocolate and planted on a stick.
Pennsylvania’s McClure’s Bakery (717/442-4461; faithhopeandshoofly.com) dishes up shoo fly pies (C) rich with a dark, gooey molasses filling.
Louisville’s Homemade Ice Cream & Pie Kitchen (502/459-8184; piekitchen.com) makes a killer lemon or chocolate chess pie (D), both riffs on the sweet Southern classic, while the Bay Area’s Three Babes Bakeshop (415/617-9774; threebabesbakeshop.com) offers a** salty honey walnut pie** (E), an elegant spin on a traditional nut pie.
The towering Caramel Pecan Levee High Apple Pie (F) from Missouri’s Blue Owl Bakery (636/464-3128; theblueowlgiftshop.com) is a showstopper: 18 apples packed high into a ten-pound pie.
The Willamette Valley Pie Company (503/362-8857; wvpie.com) also goes long on fruit pies, from apple (G) to peach (I), but marionberry (N), made from a local fruit, is our favorite.
Though considered a holiday specialty, we order mince pie (J) from Virginia’s Red Truck Bakery & Market (540/347-2224; redtruckbakery.com) year-round: here, suet-laced pastry and a fruit filling gets a sprinkle of bourbon sugar.
Whole cherries are layered into pies from Michigan’s Grand Traverse Pie Company_ (866/444-7437; gtpie.com)_, then topped with either a delicate crumble for the** cherry crumb** (L), or chocolate fudge for the cherry ganache (O).
The all-berry pie (P) from Massachusetts’s Centerville Pie Co. (774/470-1406; centervillepies.com) is loaded with blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, and raspberries, while the shaker lemon pie (Q) from Brooklyn’s First Prize Pies at Butter & Scotch_ (646/338-6812; butterandscotch.com)_is a duet of smooth custard and chewy lemon slices.
Despite its silly look upon delivery, the apple pie in a paper bag (R) from Wisconsin’s the Elegant Farmer _(262/363-6770; elegantfarmer.com)_goes in the oven, bag and all, and emerges with buttery fruit and a crisp crust.
Jane and Michael Stern are_SAVEUR contributing editors._