And not just any Southern girl either – Amanda Wilbanks, owner of the Southern Baked Pie Company spent part of her Friday afternoon on the phone with us, dishing on all butter crusts, pies as small as a tassie and as large as a wagon wheel, blackberry pies, pies made with fresh, organic blueberries that are growing all over Georgia right now, and her savory chicken pot pie that is her favorite to eat but the hardest to make.
“I used to love to make chicken pot pie with my Grandma, who I called Betty. We had to cook the chicken first, which took hours. The pie doesn’t have vegetables like a lot of people think, but its simple, honest ingredients: chicken, dumplings and salt are heavenly.”
Jorj.com eagerly awaits Grandma Betty’s recipe, but it’s not on the list of what Amanda’s publisher is okay with sharing right now. We’ve pre-ordered her cookbook, which will be released on August 7.
When you click on Southern Baked: Celebrating Life With Pie, you can immediately look inside and see how to make her famous pie crust, which calls for one whole stick of butter.
“I admit I’ve gained a few pounds,” Amanda chuckled, “but I’ve never been happier. Making this cookbook was hard work, but my friends helped me test every recipe and arrange all the photo shoots. We had so much fun. Sure, it was 12 hour days for a solid month, but we nibbled and hung out as friends. Amazing.”
As an author of many cookbooks myself, I can relate. Like me, Amanda’s recipes are also inspired by travel.
“About ten years ago, I was studying abroad,” she said, “and when I was in Prague I had my first taste of a made-from-scratch pastry. It was a tart. When I bit into it, I was shocked at how good it was; the custard was warm, and the dough the softest and most buttery I’d ever had. The fruit inside the tart shell was perfectly sweet.”
It was a perfect segue. I told her about Canvas and Cuisine, with Sue’s oil paintings of far flung farmer’s markets and the exotic recipes they inspired me to create. I think the three of us are such like-minded individuals that I sent Sue some of Amanda’s pies. I myself tasted the pies’ marvelousness when someone gifted them to me through the mail. The Southern Baked Pie Company ships all over the United States.
This is Amanda’s store and HQ in Gainesville, Georgia.
She told me she spends most of her time here, but does drop by her other two stores in Alpharetta and Buckhead from time to time, ready to roll up her sleeves, get out her pre-refrigerated pie making ingredients, and make what she loves. Her product managers like to tell her, “We got this.”
And this, would be her family’s dream. The pie entrepreneur says her mother-in-law, Sandy Wilbanks got the whole thing started by showing Amanda how to make buttermilk pie. That was in 2012, and she’s been making all sorts of pies ever since. Her very favorite right now is chocolate chess pie, which tastes especially good washed down with a glass of Prosecco, a few ripe berries floating on top. Her husband, Alex convinced her to sell her pies professionally, and it’s to him, whom she dedicates her cookbook.
“Alex is the one who always believed in me the most.”
The mother of two will mark her 5th year as a store owner shortly after the book’s official release. She says they plan to host a book signing party at the Gainesville store, on August 18th. “It’s a tiny shop,” Amanda says, “so we’ll probably bring the celebration outside, and serve a few pies.”
August 18th is a Saturday, and Fridays are free pie days – so if you bring a hankering for the blackberry pies – a favorite of Southern Baked this summer, you will probably be in luck for a fresh baked encore. But who knows? It could be anything. No notion is too pie in the sky here…
*Photos in this blog by Abby Breaux Photography