The Story of a Local Pie
For Jen Musty––founder of San Francisco’s Batter Bakery––Thanksgiving prep is a family affair. Jen’s mother, father, and brother fly in from Tucson, Arizona the week of Thanksgiving to crowd into her tiny bakery on Pine Street, the storefront painted vibrantly red. Together, elbow-to-elbow, they roll out pie dough, measure spices, roast pumpkins, and coat the kitchen in flour. But they’re not making Thanksgiving dinner for themselves––they’re baking hundreds of pies for families across the Bay Area.
“It feels cozy,” Jen says, “like you’re cooking Thanksgiving at home. We’re putting as much care into what we make here as you would in your own kitchen. Each pie is made by hand and you’ll see that––nothing is completely uniform and the crusts are crimped by fingers, not a machine.”
In fact, the only piece of automated machinery in the bakery is an old, refurbished 1950s box tying machine. The family often bickers over who gets to take a turn at the machine to tie up kraft-brown pie boxes with delicate red and white twine. Every other task is completed slowly by hand.
Like Good Eggs, Jen relies on sourcing ingredients from local producers she knows personally and trusts. Not surprisingly, many of these producers are also in the Good Eggs family, like Full Belly Farm, where Jen gets her pumpkins and squash to make Thanksgiving pies. (She let us in on a little secret: the best pies are made with a variety of squash to add texture and complexity of flavor to the filling.) By year’s end, Jen will have roasted a grand total of 4000 lbs. of squash.
“Full Belly grows such high quality produce,” Jen says. “It’s really the best of the best, and that’s what we’re looking for from our ingredients.”
Each ingredient in every pie is handpicked from Jen’s network of Bay Area producers––so it’s not just Jen’s immediate family that comes together to get a Thanksgiving pie on your table, but an entire community of farmers and foodmakers across the Bay.
“We want to support our local food community here,” Jen says. “I feel strongly about that.”
It’s a community Jen has been a part of for years––she was one of Good Eggs’ very first producers and has long-time relationships with many of the producers Good Eggs supports, too, like Full Belly Farm, Flying Disc Ranch, Swanton Berry Farm, Eatwell Farm, Capay Valley Farm Shop, and Devoto Orchards.
In fact, Stan Devoto of Devoto Orchards is Jen’s neighbor at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market. Jen sourced apples for her baked goods from Stan even before they became market neighbors, but over the many Saturdays they’ve spent side by side, the two have developed a close personal relationship.
She’s watched his daughters grow up and––as is the case with Stan’s daughter Jolie Devoto, who founded Golden State Cider––join the Bay Area food community themselves.
“We get all our apples from Devoto––we love Stan and I wouldn’t think of buying apples from anywhere else,” Jen says. “He’s not only an amazing person, but also an incredible grower. Stan will show up at the farmer’s market and just casually mention that he’s been harvesting since 2 a.m. His apples to me are above and beyond. We get seconds from Stan that are better than the firsts you get anywhere else.”
“Seconds” are apples that might be dented or dinged. Though you might not pick them for your lunchbox, they bake beautifully into sweet treats.
Each year, as part of her Thanksgiving tradition, Jen creates a special spiced apple cranberry sauce using Stan’s late autumn apples (and oranges from Twin Girl Farm). And while slightly different from Jen’s usual assortment of baked goods, it’s the perfect way to invite both Jen and Stan to your Thanksgiving table.
For Jen, so much of baking is about the community––not just the community she sources her ingredients from, but also the community she shares her baked goods with.
Because Jen so loves the process of baking together with loved ones, she also makes some pre-made batters and doughs that you can easily bake at home, with a little less prep work but all the same incredible ingredients.
“There’s a lot of love in all the elements,” she says. “Whether you’re baking, eating, or gifting baked goods––it’s all about the experience of sharing delicious things with people you care about.”