“Easy as pie” is an idiom that bakers at The Cinnamon Stick are sick of hearing.
“There have been a lot of pie jokes and puns recently” said head baker Stephen Singh. “We kind of groan.”
“Sometimes people do say, ‘you know— it’s not easy as pie,’” added manager Caitlin Brannan, with a smile. “Which is true.”
Singh and Brannan would know; as these two bakers opened The Cinnamon Stick at the end of December, pulling long hours to refine their recipes ever since.
Starting from scratch
Singh, new to baking but experienced with kitchens, spent years working at Frogtown Johnnies (owned by the same Chrysanthou family which owns The Cinnamon Stick).
“I love creating things,” said Singh. “So I was excited to do that in a new way with baking. I’ve learned so much about the science of it. There’s very little room for error.”
Without the wiggle room of cooking, Singh and Brannan spent a long time refining the crust recipe, which is flakey and surprisingly dense. Don’t ask for details, though. “I can’t tell you much, but the crust is lard-based,” explained Singh.
While Singh and Brannan met as strangers, they bonded quickly. 16-hour days spent working under pressure either makes you or breaks you.
“I think it’s our positive attitudes that helped,” said Brannan. “When you’re baking, things don’t always work out. It’s a science. Sometimes, you just have to have some humor.”
A sweet tooth never stays satisfied
Considering the bakery’s large assortment of pies, from classics like Cherry Crumb, to unique options, like Buckeye Cream, it’s difficult to select which slice to try. When asked to name the most popular pie, both bakers responded: “Oh, easily cherry.” “Banana cream, apple…” “Peach raspberry, lemon meringue…” “Chocolate peanut butter—” “Yeah!”
Favorites are hard to determine. As are final recipes.
“We’re always in the process of refining our recipes,” said Brannan. “We listen to customer feedback and try new things. Right now, we’re experimenting with a chocolate-covered banana cream pie.”
“The menu and some of the flavors are part of an ever-evolving process,” explained Singh. “We got together under the pretense of solving problems and bringing solutions to the table. Part of that is creativity. If a customer asks for a pie we don’t have, it isn’t necessarily a problem, but rather a new challenge for us to explore. We can try it and see how everyone responds.”
Brannan suggests a “pie of the week” is in the works, as well as a butter-based crust recipe (for those who eschew lard). In addition, the bakery sells decorated cookies, brownies, ice cream and other vegetarian items. Singh plans to incorporate some of his family’s favorite Indian pastries.
“Unfortunately, there are people who don’t like pie. I don’t know how that’s possible, but we have options for them,” said Brannan, with a laugh.
A slice for all
“You’d think this is a niche market,” said Singh. “But we get a lot of people who just want a nice slice of pie and a cup of coffee. Who doesn’t enjoy that?”
“There aren’t a lot of places around here where you can get a great pie— just pie,” added Brannan. “Plus, we have a lot of space. We want to bring people together to have fun.”
In addition to the bakery’s sweets, The Cinnamon Stick boasts a large interior space where customers use wifi, play board games, stop by in groups after dinner, or hold community events, like open mics or intimate live music performances.
“We wanted to be rooted in the community,” said Singh.
Plus, the bakery offers a twist: “We have our liquor license,” Brannan said, with pride. “We’re not your average bakery. You can come in after dinner for dessert and enjoy wine, brandy or any of our espresso drinks with a shot of liquor.”
As for ordering pie with liquor — ”No,” said Brennan, laughing. “We want to be family-friendly.” Singh laughed and backed her up: “We have kids in here. “
“We’re right off the bike path,” explained Brannan. “One guy came in off the path, all sweaty from running, and bought a pie, and went right back onto the trail.”
Easy as pie? We think not.
The Cinnamon Stick Bakery
3535 N. Holland-Sylvania Rd. | 419-843-9127