Pie art: Sassafras Bakery

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From the June 28, 2012 edition

After one bite into the remarkable Sassafras apple pie I bought at the Worthington Farmers Market, I nearly saluted and commenced to marching as “The Stars and Stripes Forever” started up in my head. When I chomped into the seductive crust of a Sassafras blueberry pie, I was seeing stars ... literally.

Sassafras Bakery is a local phenomenon — its pies have been featured in Food and Wine magazine and no less a dessert expert than Jeni Britton Bauer has loudly sung its praises. Based on those accolades, you might not guess Sassafras is the one-woman operation of a home baker who previously hadn’t been a fan of pie because she found their crusts disappointing.

Well, A.J. Perry (whose parents installed half-sized kitchen counters so she could “help cook” when still a tyke) rights those doughy wrongs with the buttery and substantial crusts on her Sassafras pies. Her crusts mean serious business.

Perry’s patriotic Signature Apple Pie — adapted from a family recipe — fills its flaky-crusted, hefty base with biggish, unmushy chunks of tart-sweet fruit. Bubbled on top is a hearty, attractively craggy streusel crown with succinct accents of cinnamon and toasty walnuts.

Perry’s deep-dish blueberry arrives with a perfect-for-the-Fourth-of-July, sparkling star-crusted design that recalls the field of blue on the American flag. To bite through its dense golden-brown crust and reach its sweet and lively berries is to pledge allegiance to the Sassafras Bakery.

Photos by Tim Johnson