Dining Reviews

How Companion Bakeshop Makes the Perfect Pumpkin Pie

Plus, let Barceloneta supply the side dishes for your holiday meal

Pumpkin pie from Companion Bakeshop is a standout holiday option. PHOTO: TARMO HANNULA

In a community graced with very fine pumpkin pie bakers, those from Companion Bakeshop stand out.

I asked Companion baker and founder Erin Lampel about her delicious holiday pies. Cooks, restaurateurs, and bakers like Lampel are heroes in this current difficult climate. They deserve our thanks, admiration, and patronage.

Do you keep the same recipe from year to year? (If it’s not broke, why fix it?)

ERIN LAMPEL: Yes, we keep the basic recipe the same. It is classic, simple and creates a delicious pie. What we are constantly changing is the process and method of how we follow the recipe. For example, what temperature and how long to bake, rotate or not rotate the pies. We are always tweaking and learning from these methods. 

What do you think makes your pumpkin pie so incredible? 

The combination of the local, organic squash and the local organic flour, both from Pie Ranch, make our pies really unique to the many other delicious options out there. Both the squash and local flour have intense and bright flavors you can’t find anywhere else. Super deep colored pasture raised eggs from Glaum really add to the deep orange color of the final pie. It’s such a nice feeling to know that purchasing our pies—especially this year—supports a local, small business/bakeshop that encompasses ethical management and employment practices. We strive to support the best ingredients and companies around that have like-minded practices.

Do you mind having it known that you use squash rather than pumpkin? 

We use Kabocha squash, grown by Pie Ranch and Brisa Ano Ranch. It is a lengthy process to cut the squash and roast them and then scoop out seeds and mush them to become our pumpkin puree.

Your crust is delicious. I think it’s a big part of the success of your product. 

We work really hard to incorporate the Pie Ranch flour and try to keep the layers flaky and light in texture. Sometimes it can be hard due to the milling. We do take a lot of pride in making sure our crust is spot on. I’m glad you have noticed!

Tasting Notes: Companion’s pumpkin pie has it all: not too sweet, great spice balance (the allspice does not overwhelm!), rich densely creamy texture, thin crust that is tasty but not crumbly. In a word, “exceptional.” Order your Companion Bakeshop Thanksgiving pies—pumpkin, pecan, and apple streusel—by Saturday, Nov. 21, for pick up at their Westside or Aptos locations on Nov. 24-25. companionbakeshop.com.

All the Sides from Barceloneta

A brilliant idea: You do the turkey, and let the amazing staff of Barceloneta supply the side dishes. From roasted brussels sprouts with pickled currants, fried capers and mint, to winter squash, stuffing with Spanish Chorizo, traditional gravy, cranberry sauce with ginger and orange, plus chicory salad with goat cheese, almonds and pomegranates. Plus an apple tart with salted caramel ice cream. Feeds four to five people. $150-180. Pick up Wednesday, Nov. 25, 1-5pm. eatbarceloneta.com.

Ser Charge

Winemaker Nicole Walsh never sleeps. The tireless entrepreneur of Ser Winery has finessed yet another win-win opportunity for us (maybe that should be wine-wine?). Now that former La Posta chef Katherine Stern is expanding her freelance culinary options, Walsh has invited the popular chef to showcase some of her expert pop-up meals at Ser’s Aptos Village Tasting Room. These should be on the Ser menu very soon, and will give us a chance to taste Stern’s distinctive dishes paired with Walsh’s distinctive Ser wines. Stay tuned!

Bad Animal is Back! 

Bookshop only (for the moment) open at reduced capacity,  4-8pm Friday-Saturday, and 2-6pm on Sunday, plus private appointments on the off days. Small snack menu and wine will be coming soon!. How exciting. Stop by and welcome them back. 

1011 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. badanimalbooks.com.

Christina Waters was born in Santa Cruz and raised all over the world (thanks to an Air Force dad), with real-world training in painting, music, winetasting, trail running, organic gardening, and teaching. She has a PhD in Philosophy, teaches in the Arts at UCSC and sings with the UCSC Concert Choir. Look for her recent memoir “Inside the Flame” at bookstores everywhere.

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