After hearing the story behind how Emily Kate’s bakery got started, it occurred to us that there was a segment of the pie-eating universe that was essentially being un-served, and we wanted to see what we could do about that. We hear so many stories of people gathering together to share our pies, and we thought it would be a cool thing if we could include the friends and family members with a gluten intolerance into that gathering.
So we approached the Emily Kate’s Team with the challenge to try and make a gluten-free pumpkin pie that tastes just like a Tippin’s regular pumpkin pie. The challenge was totally in the crust, because Tippin’s pumpkin pie filling is already gluten free. We shared our crust recipe, and even gave Emily Kate’s some of our super-special pie shortening.
Many of the early efforts were failures. One version was so tough we could have broken a tooth on it; we couldn’t cut it with knife. Robin, owner of Emily Kate’s, still shrinks every time we laugh about that version. We took samples of fresh-baked Tippin’s crust to Emily Kate’s to reinforce what Tippin’s pie crust looks and tastes like. We sampled the Tippin’s crust in Emily Kate’s parking lot so we wouldn’t accidentally get any gluten in their bakery.
The samples started getting progressively better; so much so that we took Tippin’s resident pie quality expert and 38-year company veteran to Emily Kate’s to get his opinion. In a blind taste test, he couldn’t tell the gluten-free crust from the Tippin’s original crust. This was a moment we will remember for a long time because when he mistook the Emily Kate’s crust for Tippin’s crust, Emily Kate’s lead baker, Amber, just about jumped through the roof of the bakery. She got some serious air.
One of the next big challenges was getting this project to scale. Tippin’s uses ovens that hold approximately 400 pies each. Emily Kate’s ovens hold about 16 pies each. And while neither bakery relies on a great deal of automation, Emily Kate’s truly does everything by hand, including rolling out the pie dough.
So for the upcoming holiday, we have decided to start small and cautiously, and we will be offering a limited number of gluten-free pumpkin pies this Thanksgiving, available only through Hen House Markets in Kansas City. Shoppers can pre-order these pies and pick them up the week of Thanksgiving (while supplies last). You can pre-order online or visit your local Hen House and ask for a pre-order form.
If gluten-free Tippin’s pies catch on, we have discussed creating other versions throughout the year. We’ll wait and see what happens this holiday. We view feedback as a gift and we use it to get smarter and better, so please share your thoughts with us.