Time flies when you’re making pies! At least it seems to for Piety, which racked up an astounding list of at least 40 pie varieties in its first year of peddling pies in Los Angeles.
A glimpse at Piety’s Instagram feed or online shop is a testament to the breadth of ingenuity that goes into its ever-changing menu of seasonal pies. But it’s the availability of fresh produce at farmers markets throughout the year that allows owner Rebecca Greenberg Blum to make almost every type of pie imaginable. For Rebecca, the formula for Piety is natural flavor plus purposeful creativity.
“This is what food tastes like when it comes fresh out of the ground and it’s made by someone’s hands. Something that’s really intentional and full of genuine dedication,” she said.
Rebecca’s appreciation for fresh ingredients shows in all of her fruit pies. Instead of frozen, jarred, or canned produce, she prefers to cut fresh fruits into chunky pieces that flaunt their natural taste and substance. Piety fruit fillings burst with peak ripeness, sourced from local farms including Murray Family Farms, Arnett Family Farms, Tamai Family Farms, Smith Organic Farms, and Forbidden Fruit Orchards.
“I don’t have much of a sweet tooth; I’m more of a savory person. When I eat a fruit pie, I really want to taste the fruit,” she explained. “And it feels good to know where your food came from.”
As fruits start to grow abundant in late February, the first signs of spring are announced on Piety’s menu with the Strawberry Rhubarb pie, delivering a mix of soft sweetness and stalky tartness. Likewise, the Strawberry Cream pie makes its own visual statement, brimming with large chunks of sweet berries.
“It’s really a time to showcase these very seasonal and short term fruits,” Rebecca said. “Peaches are not available year round. To me, that’s the epitome of summer pies.”
Summer fruit pies are particularly sentimental to her, since her love for baking grew from her successful first attempt to make a strawberry-blueberry pie at age 14. Having grown up in California, Rebecca knows she can get strawberries straight from a farm in her hometown of Redlands. “I know the hillside they came from. I know they were picked Monday morning. I know everything about them.”
The fruit-forward pie concepts at Piety continue through the fall with celebrations of apples and pears. In the winter, Rebecca’s go-to fruit flavor is orange—she adds it to chocolate, custard, and meringue. Fruit varieties then shift toward heartier harvests of pumpkin, sweet potato and pecan. Examples like the Maple Pumpkin and Bourbon Pecan pies reflect Rebecca’s efforts to jazz up nostalgic holiday classics.
Piety’s year-round repertoire also makes the most of abundant herbs, which add an earthy essence to such pies as the Lavender Honey Custard, Peach Rosemary, and Apple Honey Thyme. And then there are brazenly uncommon creations like the Chocolate Oatmeal, Doughnut, and Peppermint Chocolate Truffle pies.
“I’m combining things that you wouldn’t always expect.” she said. “I think it’s about using whatever is around you and what inspires you. I want to push that as far as I can to make interesting stuff to keep people engaged.”
Another point of interest about Piety pies is in their preparation. Rebecca wanted her pies to be able to serve LA’s large Jewish community, including herself, so all varieties are made pareve—without milk products—and are certified kosher. Instead of using butter in her crust, she came up with a mixture of coconut and organic palm oil, which together give the crust a crumbly texture and buttery aroma. To the delight of customers who avoid lactose, coconut cream replaces heavy whipping cream in pie fillings and toppings. And though eggs are used in several pies such as meringue and custard, many Piety varieties are vegan.
“That part is really satisfying—to have people come to me who say, ‘I can eat this?’ That’s been really good to give them something,” she said. “But it’s very handmade. All the ingredients are pronounceable.”
Rebecca has dedicated herself to crafting pies since 2014 when she launched Piety alongside her ongoing teaching career in Brooklyn, New York. There, she was influenced by Four & Twenty Blackbirds, a pie shop known for their fearless attitude towards flavor pairings. When she moved back to California, she brought back a few ideas, including the Blushing Apple pie made with apples and beets. To further push the boundaries of creativity, Rebecca reads cookbooks, studies the history of pies, and looks for ways to incorporate what’s available.
Now as both a professional artisan and a constant student of the pie craft, Rebecca is putting her 14 years of experience as a teacher to good use with a new project to cultivate the next generation of pie innovators: Pie Camp. By teaching the fundamentals of pie baking, she’s able to incorporate practical math and science lessons in a fun way that’s often easier for kids to pick up.
“Pie Camp is like sneaking vegetables into your child’s macaroni and cheese,” she said, “because it’s really sneaking in math and science and all of this fun stuff, but under the guise of baking and having fun.”
The four-day workshops are held at Rebecca’s home kitchen from June through August. After each day’s session, campers will go home with a treat of their own making.
To treat yourself to some handmade Piety pies, look for mini varieties for sale at Bibi’s Bakery in the Pico-Robertson district and Jayde’s Market in Bel Air. You can also order whole pies for local delivery on Fridays from the PietyLA.com website. Arrangements can be made by email for pickup or special order requests. For a more regular pie fix, sign up online for a Pie Club subscription, which delivers each week’s seasonal pie selection to your door in the LA area.