Team Inlander dishes on its top three local apple pie picks, plus where else to find pies this season

click to enlarge Team Inlander dishes on its top three local apple pie picks, plus where else to find pies this season
Young Kwak photo
A slice of apple pie from Conley's Place Restaurant.

In the summer we cheer for "baseball, hot dogs and apple pie," but as the weather cools, it's all about the pie. Pie and coffee. Pie and whiskey. Pie and ice cream. Or just pie, which by definition is a baked dish of sweet or savory ingredients topped and encased in pastry, versus its European cousin, the single-shelled tart.

While pie variations abound, apples are one of the most popular fillings, so after compiling a list of local places offering whole pies (both in stock and available to preorder), we purchased several for Inlander's editorial team to sample and rank.

Using a low-to-high scale of 1 to 5, the criteria was simple (and admittedly unscientific): presentation, pie crust, pie filling, and an overall score. With 140 points total up for grabs, here, then, are our top three apple-to-apple (pie) picks.

LIL' PUNKIN PIE CO.
7790 N. Atlas Rd., Coeur d'Alene, 208-762-3289; prairiehomefarm.com
What we got: Classic apple ($24)
Score: 96.5 / 140

Pumpkin might be this North Idaho venture's claim to fame, but Lil' Punkin Pie Co. founder and baker Linda Swenson offers 24 standard and seasonal pies from assorted berries, rhubarb and pecan to salted pear crumble and meatless mince meat. Much of the fruit Swenson uses in her pies is from Prairie Home Farm, which she and husband Dave founded in 2015. Swenson has since turned the farm into a popular destination for October farm tours and U-pick pumpkins, and to offer year-round pies from her on-site bakery.

Both her classic apple and Dutch apple pie, the latter with a crumble topping, feature Red Delicious and Granny Smith apples from Wenatchee, where Swenson grew up.

"I believe the tart and crisp and sweet and soft is essential" in the filling, she says.

Interested in learning Swenson's secrets to perfect pie? Consider her monthly farm pie school classes ($35/person).

INLANDER THOUGHTS: News team member Samantha Wohlfeil described the filling as "caramely, tart apple pie deliciousness," while fellow staffer Daniel Walters picked it as his second favorite of the pies we sampled.

CONLEY'S PLACE RESTAURANT
12622 E. Sprague Ave., Spokane Valley, 509-924-5411, conleysplacerestaurant.com
What we got: Classic apple ($18)
Score: 99 / 140

Pie for breakfast? Sure. Lunch? Yup. Anytime you're hungry for pie, visit Conley's, which has 22 standard and seasonal versions in its pie case daily. Add a slice of pie to your meal ($6), take pie home with you, or order flavors online like an Almond Joy cream pie, pecan pie, cherry pie and sugar-free variations of select fruit pies.

Pies are scratch-made daily in Conley's Pioneer Pies bakery, which co-owner Jennifer Conley has run since 1992, when she and husband Ed purchased the business and incorporated it into Conley's Place Restaurant. Since then, Conley's has been a go-to for Irish fare and for comfort foods from eggs Benedict for breakfast to fish and chips for lunch to grilled pork chops for dinner.

Two full-time bakers stay busy making roughly 200 or more pies a week, says longtime manager Linda Kartz, who is partial to the peanut butter chocolate pie.

"It's a big process," she adds, "but we love it."

INLANDER THOUGHTS: Conley's pie was Listings Editor Madison Pearson's favorite, the "perfect combo of sweet and tart, gooey and syrupy ... so good!" Arts and Culture Editor Chey Scott remarked that it had a "lovely crust, flaky and very rich with that salty, butter taste."

SOMEONE SAY PIE?
The following spots have whole pies available on-site or for order and pickup. Call or go online to confirm pricing and availability.


BEAN & PIE
208-930-4065, beanandpie.com
BILLIE'S DINER
509-244-0197, billiesdiner.com
BIRDIE'S PIE
509-244-0197, billiesdiner.com
BLISSFUL WHISK
509-242-3189, blissfulwhisk.com
The campers
Close to 700 people lived at Camp Hope during the summer, but the total number is now closer to 450. Many campers say they prefer living at Camp Hope over one of the city's shelters.
BREAÜXDOO BAKERY
509-290-6389, breauxdoobakery.com
CHAP'S DINER AND BAKERY
509-624-4182, chapsgirl.com
DESSERTS BY SARA
509-922-6039, dessertsbysara.com
EUROPA RESTAURANT & BAKERY
509-455-4051, europaspokane.com
FRESH TODAY CATERING + BAKERY
509-904-9772, freshtodaycatering.com
GOOSE HOUSE BAKERY
goosehousebakery.com
THE GRAIN SHED
509-241-3853, thegrainshed.coop
IDAHO FARMHOUSE BAKERY
509-540-7036, idaho-farmhouse-bakery.business.site
KATIE'S BAKEHOUSE
208-596-3198, facebook.com/kts.bakehouse
KOSELIG KITCHEN
info@koseligkitchen.com, koseligkitchen.com
MADE WITH LOVE BAKERY
509-919-0041, mwlbakery.com
miFLAVOUR MODERN FRENCH BAKERY
509-315-4516, miflavour.com
MILLER'S COUNTRY STORE
208-263-9446, millerscountrystoresandpoint.com
MOTHER BEAR'S BAKERY
509-818-0127, motherbearsbakery.square.site
OLIVE'S PIE BARN
208-800-5684, olivespastries.com
PASTRY AND MORE
208-667-3808, pastryandmore.combr> PATTI'S PIES
509-220-7640, pattispies.com
PIE HUT
208-265-2208, Facebook: Pie Hut
THE VILLAGE BAKERY
208-770-8733, thevillagebakerycda.com

CRABBY MOURNING BAKERY
Spokane (pop-up), 509-953-3627; crabbymourningbakery.com
What we got: Dutch apple ($30)
Score: 124 / 140

Crabby Mourning Bakery is one of many pop-ups working the farmers market and event circuit with an eye toward a brick-and-mortar location someday. Even though its owners, Gina Mourning and Becky Crabb, have been best friends since first grade, the Spokane-based bakery is only a few months old. Both women work day jobs — Mourning in sales and Crabb as a customer success manager — but recently launched the business that reflects their shared friendship and sense of faith.

"Before I bake every morning, I pray," says Mourning, who agrees with Crabb that love is the secret to good pie.

Crabby Mourning is sharing that love and their baked goods, donating cookies to Vanessa Behan crisis nursery, for example, or pies to local nurses working on Thanksgiving.

Making pie is laborious and time-consuming, admits Mourning, who uses a decades-old contraption that peels, cores and slices the apples to a uniform thickness. She adds lemon to prevent browning and lets them sit an hour before spooning them into the prepared shell. This, she says, as well as letting the cooked pie rest a full 12 hours, is essential to her process.

INLANDER THOUGHTS: Music and screen editor Seth Sommerfeld noticed how good the pie smelled and liked the "excellent crumble top" and thin apple slices that were "super sweet in a good way." Editor Nick Deshais also liked the level of sweetness in the filling, as well as the crispness of the apples for a pie he awarded a perfect score. News reporter Nate Sanford reported "this pie feels like it has something important to say."

Yeah, it says, "I'm yummy!" ♦

West End Winterfest @ Brick West Brewing Co.

Through Jan. 2, 2023
  • or

About The Author

Carrie Scozzaro

Carrie Scozzaro spent nearly half of her career serving public education in various roles, and the other half in creative work: visual art, marketing communications, graphic design, and freelance writing, including for publications throughout Idaho, Washington, and Montana.