A few years ago, I did a story about A.J. Perry and her little stand at the Worthington Farmers’ Market called Sassafras Bakery. Like many people, I fell in love with the cinnamon rolls and cookies she turned out from the narrow galley kitchen of her condo. But it was her pies that really stood out to me.
I’m picky about my pies. I’ve made dozens in my lifetime for various stories and just to eat, and I’ve tasted many more from bakeries, grocery stores and even the freezer section. I know what I like. I like a thick crust that’s not an afterthought, one that tastes good even without the filling. And I like filling that tastes like the fruit it’s made from, not like spices or sugar or thickener. Custard pies should be thick, but still silky. (I told you I’m picky.)
Perry delivered on all the above. You could buy her pies by the slice or by the pie, and those in the know ordered her pies ahead of the Saturday market because the chance of her selling out was so great.
Now Perry has a storefront bakery in downtown Worthington, across the street from where her stand was during summer months. Her pies — and cookies, quiches, brownies and muffins — are available Wednesday through Saturday. But just like in her farm market days, she sells out a lot. Those needing a pie fix should place an order ahead.
Before she opened the space last fall, a colleague sent me a message, asking if Sassafras was worthy of the buzz she was hearing about it. I told her, “Let me put it this way: If I had one of her pies right now, I wouldn’t share.”