Irrespective of how you chop it, at the moment is Pi (e) Day

Today is pi day for mathematicians – 3.14 is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to the diameter of that circle. Get it … March 14th … 3.14.

But for bakers it’s apple, cherry, cream or even a cake day topped with whiskey.

“Every day is cake day here,” said Carlo Cimino, owner of Mazziotti Bakery in Lower Burrell. “The key to a good cake is the crust. You need to have a good, flaky crust. Our pie crust has butter. “

Daily fruit flavors available at Mazziotti Bakery include apple and cherry. Coconut and chocolate cream, peanut butter and lemon meringue can be ordered by special order. The bakery has seasonal choices like blueberries and peaches.

All are 9 inch cakes.

Courtesy Carlo Cimino

Peanut butter cake at Mazziotti Bakery in Lower Burrell.

Cakes for almost a decade

Homemade cakes have been a staple in Massart’s restaurant in Tarentum since 1923. Owner Kirk Massart has made so many that he no longer has to measure the ingredients. He’s using a family recipe.

The cakes prepared Monday through Friday include apple, cherry and some cream cakes. Lemon is available on Friday


Courtesy Breanna Thompson

A piece of cherry cake at Massart in Tarentum.

Homemade cakes aren’t perfect, said Breanna Thompson, a waitress at Massart and the owner’s daughter.

“But the imperfections are what make a fresh homemade cake – a fresh homemade cake,” she said. “Our customers love our cakes. Some of them tell us that the cakes taste like the ones their grandmothers made and left on the windowsill to cool down. “

In a good mood

Liquor from local distilleries is used to make cakes at Prohibition Pastries in East Liberty.

Point Breeze owner Eliza Jane Bowman is known for making savory pies and sweet, alcohol-based baked goods such as gin-ginger-peach, apple-whiskey, winter ale-pecan, and rum-coconut-cream tarts.

She takes Wigle whiskey in the apple pie and makes a lime pie with Maggie’s Farm Rum.

Bowman’s English and Irish style baking is from the ground up. Her love for handicrafts began when she baked bread rolls in her grandma’s kitchen, Ada Lou Ross.

Bowman said the less you handle the dough, the better. Don’t overwork it.

“What I love most about cake is how flexible it is,” said Bowman. “Cakes can be sweet, sour and savory. They can be topped with sprinkles or crusts, meringue or even mashed potatoes. “

She started the Pie Club during the pandemic to keep regular customers. It’s a subscription-based program for the first Friday of the month with options ranging from a 9-inch sweet pie for $ 15 to a 9-inch sweet pie, two pot pies, four hand pies, and six sales for $ 100.

“This was a great way to bring people back at least once a month,” she said. “It was also a great opportunity for me to play with new flavors while getting the tried and tested favorites into people’s hands. And who doesn’t want a cake day to be happy every month? “


Courtesy John Leancu

A butterscotch meringue cake from Perk’s Pies in Greensburg.

Cake with family ties

Perk’s Pies, based in Greensburg, was inspired by Jack and Katie Perkins, the grandparents of owner John Leancu.

“Perk” was Jack Perkins’ nickname.

Leancu brings his cooking experience from the former Mr. P’s restaurant that belonged to his family.

He started the business by making cakes for friends and family members for the holidays. The business has grown over the past year.

“The key to a good cake is keeping it cold,” Leancu said. “If you keep the butter cold and the dough chilled, it creates a flaky crust. Use ice cold water too.

“Cold ingredients were my grandmother’s secret. She used Crisco too, but I prefer butter because I like the richness. “

He said it was best to let a cake cool to room temperature before attempting to cut it.

People don’t always have the time to make fresh baked goods, said Leancu, who makes creme brulee, cocoa mocha, chocolate bourbon pecan, butterscotch meringue, and a salted caramel apple pie.

“People always love a good apple pie,” said Leancu, who also has a full-time job. “I think that will be number one too. The salted caramel apple pie is also becoming a customer favorite. “

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

(Courtesy John Leancu, Perk’s Pies)

1 pre-baked 9-inch pie crust (recipe follows)

1/4 cup of packaged brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

3 large eggs (at room temperature)

1/4 cup melted butter (1/2 stick)

1 cup of light corn syrup

2 ounces of your favorite bourbon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt

1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup chocolate chips

For the filling::

Put brown sugar and white sugar in a large mixing bowl. Using a whisk or fork, beat the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. Mix in the melted butter, corn syrup, bourbon, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt.

How to fill the crust:

Spread half of the chocolate chips on the bottom of the cake dish. Then distribute the chopped pecans evenly on the bottom of the cake bowl.

Pour the filling into the pre-baked cake dish. Scatter the remaining chocolate chips over the cake. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes or until the filling is firm. Let cool down to room temperature.

Cake crust recipe

1 ¼ cups pastry flour or all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup chilled butter (1 stick)

4 tablespoons of ice water

For the crust:

Sift the flour and salt together. Crush chilled butter into flour with a cheese grater. Throw the flour and butter together with your hands and rub the flour and butter mixture lightly between your palms for a few passes. Drizzle water into the flour mixture and mix it together lightly until the flour looks like shredded paper. Press the dough into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Prepare the crust::

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll chilled dough into a 12-inch round.

Press the batter into a 9-inch cake pan and cut the batter onto a 1-inch overhang. Fold the hanging dough and press it down with a fork.

Chill the dough for 20 minutes. After the dough has cooled, cover the cake dish with foil and fill it with dried rice or dried beans (this way the dough can bake blind without shrinking). Bake for 20 to 22 minutes at 425 degrees. Remove the crust from the oven and remove foil and beans from the crust.

The shell is pre-baked and ready to be filled with pecan pie, pumpkin pie, etc. For a fully baked pie shell, place in the oven after removing the foil and beans.

Bake for another 5 to 8 minutes or until golden brown. Fully baked peel is good for banana cream pie, coconut cream pie, chocolate pudding pie, etc.

Cake funny facts

About $ 700 million (about 186 million units) of cakes are sold in grocery stores each year.

According to a 2008 survey by Crisco and American Pie Council, almost one in five (19%) Americans prefer apple pie, followed by pumpkin (13%), pecan (12%), banana cream (10%) and cherry (9%)) .

Cake just isn’t for dessert. 35 percent of Americans say they had cake for breakfast.

When asked which dessert Americans prefer when a friend or family member brings them home for a holiday dinner, cake was 29% of the winners. Cake (17%) and biscuits (15%) rounded off the top 3 places.

Pumpkin pie was first brought to the holiday table in 1623 at the pilgrims’ second harvest festival.

Cake by Numbers

36 million – number of Americans who identify apple pie as their favorite

47% – Americans who think of cakes when the word “comforting” comes to mind

6 million – number of American men ages 35 to 54 who ate that last piece of cake and turned it down

27% – Americans who believe chocolate cake is the most romantic to share with someone special

1 in 5 – Proportion of Americans who have eaten a whole cake themselves

113 million – the number of Americans who have eaten cake for breakfast

75 million – number of Americans who prefer to drink milk with their cake

32% – Americans who prefer no crust on their cake

90% – Americans who agree that a slice of cake is one of the simple joys in life

9% – Americans who prefer to eat their pie crust first

7% – Americans who passed a store-bought cake as homemade

18% – men who say their wife makes the best homemade cake

2% – women who say their man makes the best homemade cake

Source: American Pie Council,

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a contributor to the Tribune Review. You can contact JoAnne at 724-853-5062,, or on Twitter.

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