“Did SOmeone Say Pie?” Transcript
Song: Boys, and girls are all fired up. Boys, and girls are all fired up. Whole world's shaking, breaking baby, and we're all fired up.
Kerry Diamond: Hi Everybody, you're listening to Radio Cherry Bomb, and I'm your host, Kerry Diamond. Each week we bring the pages of Cherry Bomb Magazine to life, through conversations with the most inspiring women in, and around the world of food. First, let's thank our sponsors, Le Cordon Bleu. If you're day dreaming about culinary school, maybe it's time to bonjour to Le Cordon Bleu. Learn more about the legendary culinary schools most prestigious professional qualification, Le Grand Diplôme, by visiting LeCordonBleu.edu.
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We have a special show for you today because, I've been on the road for The Future Of Food tour, Jessie Sheehan, the author of the vintage baker, is filling in for me today, as guest host. Just in time for Thanksgiving, Jessie sat down with Lisa Ludwinski. The founder, owner, and head baker of Sister Pie. The brilliant bake shop in Detroit. While we were in Detroit for our radio tour last week, we stopped by Sister Pie, and had a slice of Lisa's cranberry crumble. It was one of the best pies I've ever had. Not too sweet, just tart enough, and with that delicious crunch brown sugar, oat, cinnamon topping. The Sister Pie cookbook is out now, and just happens to have a recipe for the cranberry crumble. If you need any baking ideas, or just love pie, be sure to snag a copy.
Thank you to Jessie Sheehan for filling in for me on this week's show. Enjoy their conversation, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving. If you post any of your creations on Instagram, be sure to tag #bombesquad, so we can see what you're up to. We'll be right back, with Jessie Sheehan, and Lisa Ludwinski after this word from Le Cordon Bleu.
Kerry Diamond: Are you daydreaming about culinary school again? Make this the year your dreams become reality with Le Cordon Bleu, the legendary culinary school. Study classic French culinary techniques, in cuisine, and pastry, as part of their exclusive nine month Le Grand Diplôme, and graduate into a world of opportunity. You also can extend your course of studies to include culinary management, and dedicated internships. Le Cordon Bleu has locations is more than 20 countries around the world, and located within some of the best food cities out there. London, Ottawa, Madrid, Bangkok, Tokyo, and of course, the spiritual home of cuisine, and Le Cordon Bleu, Paris. Turning your day dreams into reality is closer than ever. Visit Cordonbleu.edu for more, and let your culinary adventure begin.
Jessie Sheehan: Hello Bombesquad, this is Jessie Sheehan. I am subbing for Kerry today. I am incredibly excited to be doing so because, I love Cherry Bombe, I love Kerry, and I get to talk to this amazing guest. Her name is Lisa Ludwinski. You may know her as Sister Pie, she has written an incredible cookbook called, Sister Pie, and she also has an amazing bakery in Detroit called Sister Pie. I like to think of her as kind of like an entrepreneurial baking rock star, like no joke. She's gotten incredible press for this like, gorgeous, funny, and smart book. Press from the New York Times, press from the fancy bloggers, who have like a million followers, press from Cherry Bomb, etc. etc. Food, and Wine, Eater. It's amazing, and when you learn about her bakery, you like want to get to Detroit, like stat, or at least I'm going.
Second, I'm excited because, Lisa is like an incredible dancer. I mean, no joke peeps, I'm not talking like ballet, or jazz. I'm kind of talking about what you need to do, which is do a deep dive on the Sister Pie Instagram feed because, the video's are amazing. I am not kidding. I loved them. Lisa mentions in the book, I kind of read it a little bit, like obsessively, so I kind of ... but anyway, Lisa mentions in the book that she was once a mime, and I see her mime in the dance, it is amazing. So, anyway, I'm no joke.
Also, Lisa describes herself as having a natural hustle, and bustle, and I gotta say, I kinda feel like I do too. So, I kinda feel there's a hustle, and bustle thing happening today, and finally, we both love cream cheese. That's like one of my favorite foods, and it seems like it might be one of Lisa's. Finally, finally, finally, this is like a dream come true for me because, when I buy an amazing baking book, I always bring it into bed, and read it like it's a novel. It's really exciting to be able to have done that, and had questions, I mean like, what the? Why'd you do that? Then now, I get to sit with her, and ask her. So, at the end of this talk, I am going to ask Lisa all my pressing questions. Okay? Hi Lisa.
Lisa Ludwinski: Hi.
Jessie Sheehan: First thing I wanted to talk to you about is sort of like the beginning. Like, Sister Pie, I know where the name comes from, but maybe you want to tell people. I would to hear a little bit about childhood. Only because I'm sort of really interested in two things. One, did you bake a lot? I know there's the salty cookie grandma story, but I am a baker, but I never baked when I was little. So, I'm always curious about people's stories. And then two, I'm curious about like the kind of values that you grew up with. Like, was your family super political? Like, does what you're kind of going after now as an adult with your bakery, and we'll talk more about that definitely, did that kind of start at home? Or was that something that you kind of came to on your own?
Lisa Ludwinski: Alright. What a way to dive in. First, I'll just start by saying that, when I realized I was going to open a bakery, I thought about how I was doing it right around the fall season, and Thanksgiving seemed like a perfect time to launch. I was doing this out of my parents kitchen in the suburbs of Detroit. As soon as I realized that pie would be the thing I would do first, Sister Pie popped into my mind because, it's a nickname that my younger sister, and I started calling each other when we were in college. It was a true term of endearment. It was like a really strong point in our relationship where I felt like I was truly the big sister, and she was the younger sister, and that is what we are ... but, we were just like in our prime for that. So, the term really meant a lot to us. We don't call each other it that much anymore because, now it's taken on a whole like-
Jessie Sheehan: It's… what do you mean bakery?
Lisa Ludwinski: Life of its own but, that's where it came from. I think it makes me think a lot about my childhood, and so, when I was a kid I didn't bake that much. I mean yeah, I made the random batch of salty cookies with my grandma, and I would bake with my mom. Just chocolate chip cookies, and pies at Thanksgiving. They were pretty basic recipes, and one thing I do remember was every Easter we would make a Polish bread that my great-grandmother would make. That was kind of like our yearly baking traditional. But, I definitely didn't grow up baking constantly. I was more interested in watching the Food Network, actually. So, I think I had those aspirations which kind of align with my theatrical nature. So, my family was ... we we're very, very close, and we still are.
Lisa Ludwinski: My mom raised us Catholic. So, we went to Catholic school. Specifically, all girls Catholic high school. I really think it was ... and I'm not a practicing Catholic anymore but, I really do think that when I was at that Catholic high school, it was kind of like a more, I guess you could say liberal Catholic high school. It was very much ... it was called Mercy High School. So, the values of it were mercy, justice, option for the poor, all of these things that really stuck with me. I was able to take these religion classes that we also based in like social justice, that really kind of formed me.
Then when I went into college, and I went to kind of a liberal arts school that was also very social justice focused, I kind of carried that with me. My family grew up definitely much more politically conservative than I am. Well, I was more politically conservative when I was a child. I think because, that's how I was raised, and then as soon as I kind of broke out into the world, I started singing a different tune, and now I very much do. But, I think like, the important thing is that some of the values that I raised with, and I think even just my mom hammering into my head, the be kind to everyone, and treat someone else like you'd want to be treated. That was like the most important thing that stuck with me. So, I think even though we disagree on things now, I know that those lessons I learned from her were so valuable, and that it's helped me so much in my business.
Jessie Sheehan: It's also nice to kind of hear, because I read about how you'd gone Catholic school. It's sort of nice to hear the opposite story. So many people, including my husband, have stories about Catholic school, and this, and that. It's sort of nice to hear about it, that actually fed you in a really kind of positive way as a grown up. I kind of love that. It's like unique.
Lisa Ludwinski: Yeah. I had some amazing teachers in all of the Catholic schools I went to. From grade school to high school. Just people who like have really shaped me, and stuck with me, and even the other week I was going a pop up with another woman who went to my Catholic grade school. Our eighth grade teacher showed up, and our history teacher, and the librarian, and it was just really incredible. So, yeah.
Jessie Sheehan: Then I know when you actually did go to college, you went to pursue directing, or?
Lisa Ludwinski: I did theater in high school, and I went to Kalamazoo College, in Kalamazoo Michigan. It's a very small school, about 1,300 kids. I was a theater, arts major. So, I was kind of dabbling in everything. I did a lot of acting, and then as I kind of grew older, at the school I started to take a real interest in directing. I think a big part of that was that my identity as a feminist was becoming so much a part of me during those college years. It seemed like a great way to be able to kind of communicate what I was feeling, and what I thought needed to go out into the world. I was also really inspired by this really great British playwright, Carol Churchill. Also, I think I was really interested in creating a certain type of rehearsal space, and a certain type of energy, just behind putting on a production. It feels like no surprise that I then just turned that into being a business owner.
Jessie Sheehan: I was going to say, that it's not so different you know, to being-
Lisa Ludwinski: No, it's really not.
Jessie Sheehan: I actually never directed. I was in plays, but not directing them. But, it's that same thing of you're creating something right? You get a lot from your book, and we'll get to this a little bit more in a bit. But, about the kind of community that you are creating. Was it sort of directing that brought you to New York?
Lisa Ludwinski: Yeah. I was definitely into improv as well. I was kind of into all of it. I decided to move to New York after college to pursue directing, I wanted to start an all female theater company. As soon as I moved here, I think I was you know, 22. To become a director is like so different then even trying to become an actor because, an actor you at least the structure of auditions to go on. But, with directing, you have to be a go getter, like in the ultimate way, and I was just learning how to pay bills on my own. So, I wasn't quite ready for that.
In the meantime, I was just getting really distracted, and interested by all of the delicious food in New York. Not to mention it was like around the time when food blogs were really just hitting the universe. I was obsessively reading them. So, I was developing this whole other passion for myself. Then I kind of threw theater to the side a little bit. It was kind of cool because, one of my first kind of theater gigs when I was here was that I was an assisting director to a guy named Terry Kinney. He was one of the original founders of Steppen Wolf Theater in Chicago. So, I worked with him a little bit, and then I ended up being a nanny for his children in Park Slope.
So, that was like a big gig for me for four years when I was living here. It was really cool because, I mean being a nanny is a wonderful job. You get to spend time with kids, and talk about family style community in the work place, it's like right there. But, it also afforded me the opportunity to pursue kind of whatever I wanted to on the side. What that ended up being was a cooking show that I filmed in my apartment. Called Funny Side Up. I did about a hundred episodes of it. It was mostly during the time that I was a nanny.
Jessie Sheehan: I've watched several of them.
Lisa Ludwinski: Oh boy.
Jessie Sheehan: As many as I could find.
Lisa Ludwinski: I've made many of them private now.
Jessie Sheehan: I think I found them on the site, did I? On the Sister Pie site, maybe you had a few on video?
Lisa Ludwinski: Oh yeah, there are a few, yeah. My select favorites.
Jessie Sheehan: Note to listeners. Please look at them, they are awesome.
Lisa Ludwinski: Oh my gosh.
Jessie Sheehan: They are. It's just whatever, it's just fun to see. It seems like you're having fun, and it was ... what I also like is it was a while ago. I feel like now, every person has like YouTube, and I do this, and I'm making cookies. But, I feel like when you were doing it, it was very low tech, in the best way. With the computer of the fridge I think?
Lisa Ludwinski: Yup.
Jessie Sheehan: So brilliant. You're like looking up. I love it.
Lisa Ludwinski: Thank you.
Jessie Sheehan: You're welcome. I wish there was more dancing because I really like your dancing.
Lisa Ludwinski: Yeah, that was pre dancing.
Jessie Sheehan: I know. Then I know you were in Milk Bar, and Four and Twenty Blackbirds, like two iconic New York City places, and shout out to Emily from Four and Twenty, who I adore. One thing I liked reading about was, staff enrichment at Milk Bar. Why don't you describe what you meant when you wrote about staff enrichment.
Lisa Ludwinski: Sure. As soon as I started working at Milk Bar, especially back in the kitchen. I felt like an instant sense of community there. I really liked everyone that I worked with, and I think I was just craving something outside of showing up to work every day, and doing the list. Which, was extremely interesting, and kind of fun, and difficult on this own. But, I was just interested in like, doing a little more. So, I started leading group stretches. Which sounds so silly, and simple but, I like asked permission to do it, and so we got to spend the first five minutes of the day doing some stretches, and kind of talking to each other. I think I was really wanting to foster that opportunity where people could just kind of check in, and see how things were going.
Then, I also was really interested in just like, organizing cookie swaps, and field trips or whatever. So, I was bringing those things to the table, which I think when I was starting to do that, and everyone around me was kinda like, wow. I can't believe you're interested in like, spear heading this stuff.
Jessie Sheehan: Yeah.
Lisa Ludwinski: It think that's when I started to get that little glimmer of, maybe there's something here, that speaks to what I want to do.
Jessie Sheehan: Totally. Then the Four and Twenty thing was more like a summer before you went back to-
Lisa Ludwinski: Yeah. I was just looking for a little extra cash.
Jessie Sheehan: Something, something.
Lisa Ludwinski: I knew some people who had worked there, so I kinda had an in. I worked like a day or two a week for a summer. Which, was wonderful because, Emily, and Melissa were so welcoming, and so sweet, and they basically put me to work making pie dough, and rolling out pie dough for the days that I was there. I was doing it like over, and over again. So, it was just a great way to just like get that practice in.
Jessie Sheehan: So awesome.
Lisa Ludwinski: To also see, you know Milk Bar, and Four and Twenty were like so different on a scale of scale, I guess, you know? At that point Four and Twenty, it just was still like, the one store front, and they had just started ... I think they were still just renting space in a commissary kitchen. So, they didn't have their big commissary kitchen. It was cool to kind of see what it was like to have this like sister owned business operating in a pretty small way.
Jessie Sheehan: Then of course, after that-ish. You went back to Detroit, and can you kind of talk about, I know you worked maybe from your parents house, maybe in a wholesale kitchen kind ... before you had your actual brick, and mortar, and then also will you tell the listeners about the dance party, and raising money-
Lisa Ludwinski: So, I moved from New York, to Detroit in September of 2012, with the intention of opening Sister Pie. It was kind of a revelation that I had, that I wanted to open a business. I think I'll just speak a little bit to why because, I think it's kind of important to the story. Which is that, I was so satisfied here, and so fed in terms of like creativity, and delicious food, and learning how to hustle. But, I think there was like something really missing from my contribution to it. I wasn't sure what that would be, and I considered for a tiny second, well would I ever open a business here? But, it just felt, not right for me. It felt like I wasn't ... there was some other reason that I wanted to open a business, and it just didn't seem like New York was the right fit.
I went on a trip to San Francisco, and I visited these cooperative bakeries, and these employee owned bakeries. Then I also was able to do an internship in Detroit while I was working at Milk Bar. David Chang offered like an in house internship.
Jessie Sheehan: Oh cool.
Lisa Ludwinski: Which was really, like a paid internship that you could go visit anywhere. I happen to just choose the place I was from. Which, I could have gone to like Denmark probably. But, I chose Michigan.
Jessie Sheehan: Paris.
Lisa Ludwinski: But, it was really wonderful because, I got to spend a week at Zingerman's Bakehouse.
Jessie Sheehan: Awesome.
Lisa Ludwinski: Then at a place called Avalon International Breads in Detroit. Both of which had triple bottom line missions.
Jessie Sheehan: Yes.
Lisa Ludwinski: Which was the commitment to people, planet, and profit. I hadn't really experienced that much before. When I realized that, that was built into their businesses in such a strong way, that was like the missing piece. So, kind of like going to San Francisco, being in Detroit, I realized okay, this is the type of business that I want to run. I want to do it here in Detroit because, it's close to where I'm from. That was it for me. So, I moved back. I moved in with my parents. I only had my security deposit in my bank account. So, they very wonderfully let me move into my childhood bedroom. I furiously test recipes in their kitchen. I like camped out in their basement, writing up news letters, and all these things.
I did that for about a year, and then I moved into a shared commercial kitchen in Detroit Proper. Got a license, and so I was able to start having wholesale accounts, and I got an employee, and we were able to just like grow little by little. That's when the dance breaks started happening. The dance breaks just happened one day in the kitchen. I was dancing to a song. Angie, who was my first employee decided to record it. We posted it on Instagram, and people seemed to like it. So, we just kept doing it over, and over again.
Jessie Sheehan: So great.
Lisa Ludwinski: It was just a fun way for us to release energy. Kind of making me think about the stretches that we did at Milk Bar, you know? Like, let's shake things out. Literally.
Jessie Sheehan: I remember back in the day when I worked at a bakery. I live in Brooklyn, in Red Hook called Baked. When I first worked there, we would do kind of ... I don't know what about a bakery, like makes that ... probably not everywhere. But, you're having fun but you're so busy, and all of a sudden we would just break out, it wasn't even dances, and back then I don't think anyone could have recorded it. But, like we'd do crazy, we'd just get our bodies in crazy positions, or we would just try to put our feet behind our heads. Just like break out of whatever was normal about making cookies, and do something crazy. So, I can totally relate to that.
Lisa Ludwinski: Yeah. It's like, it can be such a monotonous job.
Jessie Sheehan: Yeah.
Lisa Ludwinski: So, to kind of just like have a moment where you have that release feels really important.
Jessie Sheehan: Totally.
Lisa Ludwinski: So, we would do that. It seemed to get people to know who we were more.
Jessie Sheehan: Yeah.
Lisa Ludwinski: It's almost like the dancing would bring them to the food, and then the food would keep them there.
Jessie Sheehan: Is that awesome?
Lisa Ludwinski: Yeah.
Jessie Sheehan: I love that.
Lisa Ludwinski: So, once it came time for us to actually build up our bakery space that we're currently in, there were a lot of creative fundraising opportunities. My favorite one by far is our 24 hour dance party. And so, we hosted it at a local record shop. It was an Indie go-go campaign. So, every time someone contributed to the campaign they got a ticket to the dance party. The dance party promise was that I personally would dance for 24 hours straight. From 9 pm on a Friday to 9pm on a Saturday night. And I did. It was really hard. Especially right around 3:00am. When like people came in after like going out, and-
Jessie Sheehan: So, they were like hi.
Lisa Ludwinski: Getting wasted or something, and I was just like dancing by myself in this dark room. But, I made it through. I made it through, and we raised 26 thousand dollars from that.
Jessie Sheehan: Yeah. It's so amazing, and I love the visual is also ... like I can imagine like lots of energy, when it began, and then by the end, just like ow, my body.
Lisa Ludwinski: Oh yeah.
Jessie Sheehan: Right?
Lisa Ludwinski: One of my friends like tucked me into bed that night.
Jessie Sheehan: Yeah.
Lisa Ludwinski: It was really sweet.
Jessie Sheehan: I'm sure, like carried you, like over her shoulder. I also know one of the things that I think drew you home, aside from all of the things that you mentioned. Was also ... I didn't even know this about Michigan. Like, agriculturally as diverse as California. The second-
Lisa Ludwinski: Second most agriculturally diverse state in the whole country.
Jessie Sheehan: So cool, and weird, and like-
Lisa Ludwinski: Random.
Jessie Sheehan: I wish I was a trivia person, because I would put that away in my little brain.
Lisa Ludwinski: I know. It's like my favorite fact to share. Now of course, it is sort of like ... significantly far behind California. We don't have lemons, and oranges, and things but, Michigan is such a huge state. We have the lower peninsula, and the upper peninsula. It's like the number one producer of cherries in the country. I think maybe even in the world, I'm not sure. But, there's a wonderful array of things. I think Eastern Market in Detroit was a place that I would visit a lot on my trips back home. What I find so wonderful about it, is that it's an opportunity for anyone in Detroit to have access to fresh produce. Which, is not something that you can find in every neighborhood in Detroit still. So, Eastern Market kind of exists as that. Pie, traditionally, is used to highlight fruits, and vegetables that farmers grown. So, it just all really made sense to me.
Jessie Sheehan: Totally.
Lisa Ludwinski: Pie's communal, pie is seasonal, let's make pie.
Jessie Sheehan: Back to the triple bottom line. Can you talk about it a little bit more? Just break it down for us a little bit?
Lisa Ludwinski: I guess I will say for one thing, that I think different businesses can have different definitions of the triple bottom line.
Jessie Sheehan: Okay.
Lisa Ludwinski: Zingerman's is slightly different than ours. Like for Avalon, and I think like the traditional definition of a triple bottom line, is that you're not just thinking about the bottom line of a business, which is the profit. You're also thinking about people, and the planet. I've also heard it described as employees, economy, environment. I really like describing it with people because, that applies to more than just employees. While employees are a very important part of people. So, for us, people means employees kind of first, and foremost. Our neighbors, so everyone who lives in our neighborhood. Then our customers, and our farmers, and our vendors, and pretty much any person that is involved, and us too.
Lisa Ludwinski: Because, people are what make a business run, and if people aren't happy, or fulfilled, or sustained, or taken care of, then everything else in the business, including the profit, it doesn't matter. So, we've chosen kind of by default I guess because, we were surrounded by people as soon as we opened the bakery, to focus on that aspect of the triple bottom line first. Which, feel like a risk, and feels kinda scary because, we don't have all our finances perfectly lined up.
Jessie Sheehan: Do most people start with money, and then work their way to the other two?
Lisa Ludwinski: I think so. I do. Or they just, I think some businesses with start with a handbook, and rules, and it doesn't budge. Our philosophy behind the people element is that it's constantly changing. Which, I think can be tough for everyone involved sometimes. It's a lot of work for us, sometimes it feels like a lot new stuff for employees to get used to. But, it's always in the effort of getting better, and better, and better. Better for every person involved in the process. It's also more exciting, and fun to do business that way. You have a lot more to think about, you feel more connected to the people who are part of Sister Pie. It's about a lot of people.
Then the planet, of course, you know food businesses specifically produce a lot of waste. So, the planet aspect is to kind of think about creative ways that you can eliminate that, or at least reduce it. Simple things are recycling, and compost. Make sure you're doing that. How can you even take eliminating waste one step further? For one thing at the bakery we make these pie sandwich cookies, and they're in the cookbook.
Jessie Sheehan: Yeah. I love them.
Lisa Ludwinski: We generate a lot of dough scraps from the different pies that we're making, and so we roll them out, and bake them into cookies, and they're the scraps of dough that we couldn't use to roll out for pie dough anymore. It's really nice, and a way to kind of make sure we're not wasting any of that precious, precious butter. Or, any of that precious labor. Then, of course profit. A business needs money to run. So, all of the wonderful things that we want to do with our business, can't happen unless we're sustainable, and unless we can survive. What's the point in having a business that last for five years, and they make an impact but then what about if they don't succeed? All the while we have to be making decisions with the profit in mind. So, all three of those things we try to make them appear in decisions, and big conversations.
A couple of ways that we continue with the triple bottom line mission, and specifically I think with people, is that we have these town hall meetings, and you mentioned, that happen once a month. They're voluntary. It's for the staff only. We make a meal, and we usually have some wine, or sometimes we have like a premixed margarita from Costco. No secrets here. It's nothing too fancy, but you know, we have a dinner, something to kind of make it a little sweeter. Then people will gather around the table, and there's usually a basic format. Which is, that we'll start by sharing some information about the business. So, we might talk about profit, and loss document. We might talk about the cookbook tour. Just share some stuff that's going on, and people can ask questions.
Then, we'll empty out the suggestion box that we have in our basement. We basically tried to create like, so many ways for employees to communicate with us, that there's like ... because everyone has a different communication style. So, you want to write it down, and be anonymous. Do you want to talk about it in a check in? Do you want to come to the town hall? Do you want to talk about it in your review? Like, there's just a billion ways, so the suggestion box is a great one. It's funny because, I feel like when we first introduced the suggestion box it was full every month. But, as time has gone by, it's not as full. I think it's a really great example of how our employees do feel like they can talk to us. You know?
Jessie Sheehan: Also, once you feel heard in a way you don't have to say anything anymore. In a funny way.
Lisa Ludwinski: Yeah. For sure. I think they know, and they trust that we have these systems for them, and so, it just makes things a little better. We talk about the suggestion box, and then we go into an open forum. Where they can bring up ideas for the future of the business, or something that's just really annoying them, or can we move the garbage can, or whatever it is. We always come out of the meeting with something to change. It's great.
Then Sister Pie It Forward. We're really interested in like, I think specifically in Detroit, and in our neighborhood, it's very common these days, and it's happening a lot for white business owners to kind of move into the city, start businesses, and some people will talk about why they're doing it. Or talk to the neighbors about it, or kind of hear people about what they want. But Detroit, the population is 85% black, and many people who are either business owners, or just people who live in Detroit have seen Detroit through a whole heck of a lot.
So, now in these past ten years, we've seen a lot of movement, and change in Detroit. That some people might choose to call an uprising, or rebirth, or revitalization. I think I take issue with revitalization as a term, and I know it's a technical term but, there's been life in Detroit for a very long time. As a white woman, owning a business in Detroit, who just moved from her time in Brooklyn. I take it upon myself to try, and pressure myself to kind of include a lot of different people in the conversation, and constantly be asking myself how can we be a more accessible bakery?
And I don't just mean that by like, what we charge, but like how can we make sure that our space looks welcoming? How can we make sure that it feels welcoming? Is it not going to be like the trendiest looking place, or even like, what can we do to make sure that a variety, a large variety of people feel like they can come in here, sit down, and enjoy a slice of pie? That maybe the pie isn't always the weirdest flavor ever, but it's like there's something for everyone.
Sister Pie It Forward was created as an opportunity for customers to pre purchase a slice of pie for someone else. So, that can be someone in need, someone who can't afford the slice of pie, or is hungry. It can be for someone whose never had a slice of sweet beat pie before, and really doesn't want to spend four dollars and 24 cents on it. So, if it's paid for my someone else, that's great, and that like brings them into the shop. Or if like someone forgot their wallet at home, or didn't have the exact change, it's just always there, and I try to really encourage the employees to not have there be any sort of like prerequisite for whoever wants to take the slice. It should just be like available for everyone.
Then we have a 15% neighborhood discount, and so I think we're just always trying to think of ways to make our business as open, and welcoming to people from everywhere.
Jessie Sheehan: I wanted to talk about Detroit just briefly, and then I want to talk about pie. In terms of Detroit was struck with something, which you sort of already touched on, but something in your epilogue about how it's been advertised as a blank slate for creatives to roam freely. I feel like in my own way, even though I've never been there, I'm probably guilty of that, of thinking of Detroit like oh my God, I have to go to Detroit?
Lisa Ludwinski: Oh yeah.
Jessie Sheehan: I think you unpacked it a little bit but, can you just talk more about why does that happen? Why do we New Yorker's sit here, and think, like Detroit. What's it really like?
Lisa Ludwinski: I think a lot of it is the way we talk about it, and the words that we use to talk about it, and how much value, and importance the words have. I think that I too was guilty before I moved to Detroit of thinking, of it as a place of opportunity for me. Right? I think that's what a lot of people think. Their narrative was, and still is to an extent, money is going back into Detroit, buildings are getting repaired, and people are investing in it, and you should come to Detroit, and you should start your business there. You should do something artistic there because, there's lots of space. There's not a lot of great systems in place so, there's a lot of opportunity with ideas to kind of bring them.
So, I think what gets lost in that is the fact that there are people who have been living there this whole time. They have their own needs, they have their own desires, they have their own opinions about what should come to Detroit, what they need. What they haven't had for the past 40 years, probably longer. Where is the money going? And how are we being really responsible, and thoughtful about where that money is going?
It's easy for a handful of white men with money to say, well yeah, I think we should develop this, and do that, and everyone can applaud them, and that's great. But, it's not really great because, how are we ever going to transfer power if there is an inequity? I think Detroit is just such a clear example of the inequity in our country. I'm interested in kind of like, attacking that, and thinking about that, and hoping to be a voice for that because, even as a white woman of privilege, I can't meet a single developer, or person, or landlord who is a woman even. I'm already at a disadvantage myself, so I can't imagine what it feels like to be a young black person growing up in Detroit who wants to start a business, and doesn't necessarily have the capital to do it.
I moved to Detroit, and instantly I was granted a lot of, like actually granted money, and people supported me, and helped me, and I'm so grateful for those people, and they were all really wonderful, and so welcoming to my business. Like the people who come to visit us from outside of Detroit, sometimes it feels like, well, I'm this white woman running this business in Detroit, so it's safe to come to my business. You know? So, I've taken it ... we've talked about that a lot at Sister Pie, and what that means. It's been like a very difficult, and challenging journey to understand what our position is in Detroit, and how we can work to shift it, so that it's a different narrative? And that we're working to support, and uplift the people around us as much as we can. Whether it's saying no to interviews, so that people who have run businesses in the city for a much longer time than us can get more opportunity. How do we collaborate with people? How can we fight the inequity that exists?
That's big, so I think the advice that I give to anyone whose coming to Detroit with an idea for a business or wants to move in is, talk to neighbors, ask people what they want, get to know them. Spend some time doing like a test run of your business before you kind of plant your feet. Detroit is a really interesting place to see right now, and there are a lot of trendy restaurants, and a lot of growth. But, there's also deep, deep pockets of poverty, and disadvantage, and lack of resources for people who really need them. It's a complicated place to be, a complicated place to talk about, and I don't even feel like I have the full vocabulary to do it.
Kerry Diamond: We're going to take a short break, and we'll be right back with Jessie Sheehan, and Sister Pie's Lisa Ludwinski, after a word from our sponsors.
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Kerry Diamond: It's time for the Bob's Red Mill Minute. With Thanksgiving just a few days away, we at Cherry Bomb understand how much decision making you need to do when it comes to this food filled holiday. To brine, or not to brine? How will you fit all the extra seats at your dining room table? And of course, there's the question of dessert, do you want classic pumpkin pie? Or is it time to try something totally new? Our suggestion? Take a literal page out of Lisa Ludwinski's new cookbook Sister Pie, and make her cranberry crumble pie. Tart like your favorite cranberry sauce, and buttery like your favorite dinner roll, this pie really is Thanksgiving in a slice. With an all butter pie dough, a rolled oat crumble topping, and cranberry orange compote, this is the perfect pie for those of us who don't like our desserts too sweet. And, as I mentioned, I got to try a slice of this pie at Lisa's shop, Sister Pie in Detroit last week. Let me tell you, it was unreal.
When you're making your shopping list for Thanksgiving, don't forget to check out Bob's Red Mill for any organic flours, starches, and oats you might need. For the Cranberry crumble pie, you're going to need Bob's Red Mill rolled oats, all purpose flour, and tapioca flour. If you're shopping online, got to bobsredmill.com, and use the code cherrybomb25 for 25% off your order. You know with Bob's Red Mill, you're not just getting quality, you're getting flavor packed food, that tastes amazing.
Kerry Diamond: And we're back, with guest host Jessie Sheehan, and Sister Pie's Lisa Ludwinski.
Jessie Sheehan: We're closing in on Thanksgiving, I'm just wondering, does it get super crazy for you right now? Like, do you guys close for a day? Did I see that on Instagram or something?
Lisa Ludwinski: We close the Monday before Thanksgiving. So, yeah. The Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, well actually, we're in the bakery working on Monday but-
Jessie Sheehan: That's what I meant.
Lisa Ludwinski: We can't deal with customers that day, and you know, whose coming to the bakery on Monday? Like everyone is about the pie. Bringing home a pie. No one wants to get a pie Monday when they can get it on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Jessie Sheehan: Totally.
Lisa Ludwinski: It's pretty hectic. We make a thousand pies. Which, is the same number we made last year. So, we just thought, well we should probably give that a try one more time before we increase it. There's a lot of prep in advance, making as much dough as we can, making like squash puree, and cranberry compote, and freezing a lot of stuff. But then, it's really just go time that week, and everyone is all in, and it's like such a beautiful time to be at the bakery because, we're all working our asses off. We're supporting each other, we have like a sandwich bard that we put out.
It feels like you're watching this machine of women who like each other, and are listening to 90s R&B, and just making pie. It's a really fun thing to experience. You can feel it when the customers line up, and come in, and that first moment on like Wednesday morning, when there's been a line out the door. Like, people got there at 6:00am to wait, and we open at 8:00, the people in the bakery are all wrapped around our big table, and we're all in the back, and I get chills thinking about it. That's like my favorite moment of the year.
Jessie Sheehan: It sounds amazing. Okay I wanted to ask you all of my nerdy baking questions.
Lisa Ludwinski: I love it.
Jessie Sheehan: That I just like have going on in my mind. The cream cheese on the crust.
Lisa Ludwinski: Yeah.
Jessie Sheehan: Love that.
Lisa Ludwinski: Thank you.
Jessie Sheehan: So, is that like soggy bottom, like removal of soggy bottom, if you put cream cheese on the bottom of your crust?
Lisa Ludwinski: Totally. Yeah. I don't know when that popped into my head. I think I probably thought about how like, different pies have ganache on the bottom, or like different things on the bottom.
Jessie Sheehan: Brushing egg white.
Lisa Ludwinski: Or just putting flour, and sugar on the bottom.
Jessie Sheehan: Totally. Or bread crumbs, right?
Lisa Ludwinski: Sure.
Jessie Sheehan: Panko I think I've seen people do.
Lisa Ludwinski: I just always had cream cheese on hand, and I thought well this is like an easy enough thing to just like spread, and make a thin layer of, and you're not really thinking about the fact that it's cream cheese, it's just there. We blind bake almost all of our crusts except for our double crusted pies. And so, it's kind of like an almost fully baked crust, and then it's really easy to spread this cream cheese on it. And it does help keep the crust nice, and flaky, and crisp.
Jessie Sheehan: I love it, and I promise if I ever use it, I will be giving you lots of props.
Lisa Ludwinski: Oh gosh.
Jessie Sheehan: I also love that you put like chunks of cream cheese into muffins, and coffee cake.
Lisa Ludwinski: Oh yeah.
Jessie Sheehan: Like I love you.
Lisa Ludwinski: The more the better.
Jessie Sheehan: I'll eat cream, like hm I just want from cream cheese. I don't even have to have anything.
Lisa Ludwinski: Well, you're talking to someone who grew up with the cream cheese sandwich in the lunch box. That was like my number one request. It was just like, white bread, cream cheese.
Jessie Sheehan: Love that.
Lisa Ludwinski: I don't know where I came up with that, or if it was just like mom's suggestion, but I've always loved cream cheese. I remember actually going to a bakery in Brooklyn called Blue Sky. They have muffins, and I remember they had cream cheese in them. So, that always stuck with me because, I just really ... I think some of them did at least. I think it was maybe like a sweetened cream cheese. Even like going back to my childhood, cheese danish, like all of that. It was always like my favorite kind of pastry to have. And so, with the muffins, and the coffee cake, it's like the more cream cheese the better. It's a really nice way to add like moisture. But also-
Jessie Sheehan: And tang.
Lisa Ludwinski: Like to cut the sweetness. Yeah.
Jessie Sheehan: Also, what I love about it too is, that when I work with cream cheese, usually as a filling I'm always sweetening it with confections sugar, and a little bit of salt or however I'm doing it, and kind of making it looser. The coffee cake recipe, I just love the idea of like literally peeps, you have to have the recipe in the book which, I'm hoping you're all buying if you haven't already. It's literally pieces of cream cheese just laid ... I love that.
Lisa Ludwinski: Yeah. And we do, we put a little bit of this sugar, sugar topping that we make, which is just equal parts Turbinado, and granulated but, whenever I'm training someone at the bakery on how to make the coffee cake, I'm just like no, more cream cheese. Like, scoop it with your fingers, and dollop it on there. Like, they're putting these little dainty sizes on. I'm like no, I want this entire thing covered.
Jessie Sheehan: Yeah. It's cream cheese.
Lisa Ludwinski: What's better than, just biting into a huge chunk of cream cheese?
Jessie Sheehan: Sugar sugar was my next question because, I'm so struck.
Lisa Ludwinski: Wow I knew it.
Jessie Sheehan: I'm so struck by sugar sugar. Because, I'm like a big Turbinado person. Put it on my pies, on my cookies, on my fudge. On everything, I love it. With like sometimes, I'll mix it with salt so, I'm getting a sweet salt thing. But, talk to me about sugar sugar. Will you tell the listeners what it is?
Lisa Ludwinski: Yeah so, sugar sugar is a topping, and a sweetener that I ... I guess created. Or at least I created the name sugar sugar. Pretty creative. To describe what is equal parts granulated sugar, and Turbinado sugar. Which, is sometimes called raw sugar. The reason is that with granulated sugar, when you apply it like the top of something you get like a really nice glittery effect almost. And, of course sweetness from it. But then with Turbinado sugar you get like more of a rustic look, but also like a really nice texture when you bite into it. So, it was the combination of like the visual, and the textural that was important to me.
Jessie Sheehan: I love that.
Lisa Ludwinski: Thank you.
Jessie Sheehan: Also, love that your crusts are dark. That you want people to bake their pies for a really long time. That you want people to rest your pies for a really long time. People don't get that at all. And I know it's tough because, you're like how can I still be baking my pie? But, I think you give great directions, and I hope people follow them.
Lisa Ludwinski: Me too.
Jessie Sheehan: For making those really beautiful ... because people don't always follow directions.
Lisa Ludwinski: It's like, how many times have I baked a tester in the bakery, and I've waited two hours to try it, like a chess pie or something, and I'm like, it's not baked enough, it's not set. Then the next day I have it, and it's like oh my gosh this texture is amazing. So, like learning how to be a baker, and specifically learning how to be a pie baker, and I think even a business owner. It's all about patience.
Jessie Sheehan: I know.
Lisa Ludwinski: So, everything is better with time, and patience, and so I hope that people get from it.
Jessie Sheehan: I also think people think of the color of pie, and they think of something kind of golden. But it's not. I think people are looking for the wrong signals when they see it baking in their oven. Really it's the color, it's the color I'm seeing in your book. That's the kind of pie that I like to eat. It might even look a little ... not black, but like it's baked around the edges.
Lisa Ludwinski: Right, right. Yeah. Well, and I think like, we make sure that the blind baked crusts are really baked, but also a big factor in it is just that the pies aren't done until the fruit is bubbling the very center.
Jessie Sheehan: Yes.
Lisa Ludwinski: That was something that really took me a long to understand you see the bubbles on the outside, and you're like ... like there's pies in this book that will bake for two hours in your oven.
Jessie Sheehan: Oh, can I just have a blackberry lime pie in my new cookbook?
Lisa Ludwinski: Yum.
Jessie Sheehan: I got the meanest Amazon review because, the guys like it never set up. I was like I'm certain that it was maybe, you know you need-
Lisa Ludwinski: Couple of hours.
Jessie Sheehan: I said that exact thing. I set a time, but you know it's not just color or time, it's you have to actually see physically the blackberries bubbling in the center or it will be soup.
Lisa Ludwinski: Totally.
Jessie Sheehan: Greasing a pie plate? Yes? All of them? Or was that just one of the recipes I stumbled upon?
Lisa Ludwinski: I guess I don't know if it says it on all the recipes but, okay, so kind of two things here. One, is that the original reason for greasing the pie pans was when the fruit pies, like when the juices kind of bubble out, sometimes they'll fall into the pan, and it will make it harder to remove, but it's still pretty hard to remove. It's just kind of like how it is.
Jessie Sheehan: Yeah.
Lisa Ludwinski: What my bakers have told me is that, it's a lot easier to work with the rolled out crust when you go to crimp it, when the dough sticks to the pan a little bit.
Jessie Sheehan: Oh, interesting.
Lisa Ludwinski: The butter actually is both like a thing that helps lift it out, but also helps keeps the raw dough in the pan.
Jessie Sheehan: Oh cool. The banging of the chilled pie crust. So, when I worked at Baked, there was a woman I worked with who always did that, but the rest of us were taking out the dough, and resting it until it had warmed up enough that we could just roll it out. Talk to me about banging versus waiting.
Lisa Ludwinski: I think with banging you have a little bit more control. So, after we make the pie dough, we let it chill in the fridge for at least two hours, so it gets to be like super chilled, just like the butter was when you originally took it out to cut it into the dough. And so, when you take it out, and it's in its little disc, it would be really hard for you to just like start rolling it out to flatten in right away. And so, we take our rolling pin, and we bang it left to right, and then turn it, and bang it again, what this does, is it begins to bring the dough up to temperature a little bit. So like, up to room temperature so that it's easier to work with, and it also begins the flattening process so that you're not ... I think like, anything to make the roll out process a little bit more straightforward and filled with direction is better.
We're flattening so then we can easily start to roll out just the edges, and then we can roll out from the center until we're done. I think the banging just like ... I think it would be a lot harder for us to control. The bakers all like having the dough sitting out, and getting to the perfect temperature. But like, if we're just banging it, it's like we're just doing it.
Jessie Sheehan: Well it makes perfect sense for a commercial ... for a bakery, but also I'm just thinking about at home. I want to start banging instead of resting.
Lisa Ludwinski: It's also a really fun way to let out some aggression, and there's just never been a time more important for that.
Jessie Sheehan: Yeah, right? Struck with the cornmeal in some of the fillings. I love that, and I want to know about that. Like in the salted maple. Which, I like to think of as like this weird love child of Four and Twenty, and [crosstalk 00:47:03]
Lisa Ludwinski: It's an homage to that.
Jessie Sheehan: I love that.
Lisa Ludwinski: Thank you. Yeah. So, cornmeal is the traditional ingredient in chess pie.
Jessie Sheehan: I did not know that.
Lisa Ludwinski: Yeah. So, that's sort of like the thickener in chess pie. So, that's kind of why I originally started to use it. But, we also work with this great farm in Michigan called Hampshire Farms, in Kingston. We use their buckwheat flour, their rye flour, their beans, and their cornmeal. Their cornmeal is just the most delicious cornmeal I've ever had. It's like really soft, but also like large. Like big chunks.
Jessie Sheehan: Coarse.
Lisa Ludwinski: Coarse.
Jessie Sheehan: I like big chunks but-
Lisa Ludwinski: Yeah. So it's like coarse but it's not, because it's soft. It's like ... I don't know. It's kind of unfortunate that not everyone who makes the cookbook can get it. I wanted to do a promotion where I like sent everyone a bag of it. In the chess pies, most of our recipes that are not fruit are like rooted in chess pie. Sort of like the style, to kind of get us where we need to go, and so cornmeal acts as like, the thing the kind like brings everything together. But, then we use it in a lot of other recipes just for flavor. You know, like you'll see it in our scones, you'll see it in a pie dough in the book. I just love cornmeal, and I want it all the time.
Jessie Sheehan: Yum. A shout out to like big cookies made with a quarter cup scoop. I always use a quarter cup scoop. Like why are the cookies so big? I love a big cookie. But, I was struck with, I usually, I think do what you guys do is, refrigerate for, if I have time, could be 48 hours for some cookies. But if I don't, a day. But, I always bake them cold. I usually scoop then, refrigerate, and then bake like that. But, you're having the dough come back to room temp before you scoop Til, I think you say, quite soft. Talk to me about that.
Lisa Ludwinski: Well, I think this is the first time I've ever thought about that.
Jessie Sheehan: Interesting. When I worked at Baked, we had the soft dough that we always scooped, and that put that into the refrigerator so I think that's probably why I do it.
Lisa Ludwinski: Mm-hmm (affirmative) I think a part of it is, I think originally when I read recipes about scooping. Maybe like the infamous chocolate chip recipe from the New York Times, way long ago, I think that dough was chilled and then scooped, and then baked immediately from scooping. I think part of it is like, just storage in the fridge. Like, it's easier to store like a pack of dough. Also, I think like a lot of our doughs, it's harder to scoop them when they're soft, and so a lot of times when you're mixing cookie dough, and you're using room temperature butter, if that's what you happen to be doing, then, by the time it's mixed that butter is like starting to almost get too warm, and so to scoop it at that time can be a mess but, also is like a little big dangerous.
Not like health wise, but I just mean like you don't want the cookie to be melting, and whatever. So, when we take it out of the fridge, we can again like control the temperature at which we scoop it. Which, feels more ideal to us.
Jessie Sheehan: Yeah. Finally, I love that your granola calls for olive oil, and coconut oil because, my recipe for granola does too.
Lisa Ludwinski: Cool.
Jessie Sheehan: And I love that combo, and I think, that is it. I just want to say what Kerry says every time, which is, Lisa you are like so, completely, the bomb.
Lisa Ludwinski: Thank you so much.
Jessie Sheehan: You're welcome.
Lisa Ludwinski: So are you.
Kerry Diamond: That's it for our show. Thank you to Jessie Sheehan for guest hosting, and to Lisa Ludwinski for visiting all the day from Detroit. If you find yourself in Detroit, make sure to stop by Sister Pie for a slice, and tell them you're part of the bomb squad. Both Jessie, and Lisa have fantastic cookbooks out right now. Jessie's Vintage Baker, and Lisa's Sister Pie. They would make a perfect holiday gift for any baker babe's or cookbook collectors in your life.
Also, we have one last stop on our Future of Food Tour this year. It's Seattle on December first. We'll be at our happy place, Book Larder. Visit Cherrybomb.com or Booklarder.com for tickets. We would love to see you there. Let's thank our sponsors, Bob's Red Mill, Vital Farms pasture raised eggs, and Le Cordon Bleu culinary school for supporting Radio Cherry Bomb.
Thank you to our associate producer Jess Sideman, and to the band TraLaLa for our theme song. This episode was recorded at The Wing in Dumbo. For more information, go to the-wing.com. Radio Cherry Bomb is a joint production of Cherry Bomb Magazine, and The Heritage Radio Network. Thanks for listening everyone, you're the bomb.
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