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Sterling Heights

Bakeries prepare holiday flavors

November 6, 2013

» click to enlarge «
Ashley Bainbridge,manager at the Sterling Heights location of Achatz Handmade Pie Co., displays various pumpkin-themed pies that are popular during the upcoming holidays.
A slice of pumpkin praline pie contains a layer of cheesecake in the filling.

The season for feasting is picking up steam, and the trifecta of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas is keeping metro Detroit bakeries busy.

Ashley Bainbridge, manager of the Sterling Heights location of the Achatz Handmade Pie Co., said her store bakes mostly pies, both sweet and savory, though they also sell cookies and pound cakes.

For Thanksgiving, the big star is predictably the pumpkin pie. However, Bainbridge said Achatz sells a variant called a pumpkin praline pie.

“It has a layer of cheesecake and a layer of our regular pumpkin pie filling, and a pecan praline topping,” she said. “Most people go for the ordinary pumpkin pie. I would say for every 10 pumpkin pies (sold), three sold for the pumpkin praline pies.”

For Christmas and end-of-the-year holiday parties, a cranberry supreme pie stuffed with apples, orange zest, golden raisins and cranberries is another seasonal favorite, Bainbridge said. A mock mincemeat pie that is filled with apples and spice but no meat is also popular in the weeks ahead, she added.

For many families, enjoying a pie is a communal affair.

“A lot of people get it for dinners,” she said. “A lot of people come in and buy a pot pie for dinner and a pie for dessert.”

Over at Maria’s Italian Bakery in Novi, owner Maria Paciocco said her store will sell homemade pies, along with a hand-decorated turkey cookie. She said the bakery plans to do even more for Christmas, offering a special selection of candies, hand-decorated cookies, specialty coffee cakes and cannoli.

Some of the extra ingredients make those desserts special this time of year — like a little extra butter or sugar, she said.

“They make them a little bit fancier,” she said. “They add more fillings. Sometimes, they add a rum filling or caramel.”

For metro Detroit’s Jewish population, Hanukkah treats will help kick off the earliest beginning of the holiday this millennium.

Manager Daniel Abraham said his bakery sells an estimated 10,000 sufganiyot jelly doughnuts every year for Hanukkah. He explained that the oil-dipped treats are a reminder of the holiday’s story, in which one day’s supply of oil kept the temple’s menorah lit for eight days.

“It’s a doughnut holiday,” he explained. “This is like a Jewish version of a paczki.”

Besides sufganiyot, Zeman’s also sells cookies with little sugar dreidels on them, as well as cookies shaped like dreidels and stars of David, Abraham said.

Learn more about Achatz Handmade Pie Co. in Sterling Heights at or (586) 977-0008. Maria’s Italian Bakery in Novi may be reached by visiting or by calling (248) 348-0545. To find out more about Zeman’s Bakery in Oak Park, call (248) 967-3905.

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