Why is it that the best pie makers cling to their secret recipes as if they were their most valuable possessions? Robin Chase of Chase Farm Bakery in Whitefield, Maine is one such pie maker, marketing her delicious homemade pies at farmers markets and other venues throughout Midcoast Maine. Chase said someone even tried to bribe her into disclosing what goes into her popular pies, but she refused. “I can’t give my recipes away,” she said.
Above: Robin Chase removes piping hot galettes from the oven. These are made with a bumbleberry filling of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.
Truth be told, Chase herself probably couldn’t tell you the exact recipe for each pie because, like all talented bakers, her recipe file is probably stored in her head. She did not go to culinary school, but instead devised her recipes over years of trial and error. That, and through a lifelong passion for pies. She describes herself as a “pie” person and her family of five children and their spouses and children as “pie people.” When the holidays come around, the family dinner table is a virtual smorgasbord of handmade pies: apple, pumpkin, pecan, chocolate creme, blueberry, bumbleberry, peach, custard and the list goes on.
At Chase Farms, the family also runs a dairy, where they produce raw milk and make their own butter. The butter, however, is not used in the pies because it’s not cost effective, Chase said. Above: Robin Chase displays an oozing blueberry pie, fresh from the oven.
Chase did let out a few of her secrets. For one, she uses only butter in her crusts, never shortening, vegetable oil or lard. She adds a little vinegar to enhance the flavor and make the crust extra flaky. She also uses a little egg to brush the top crust, and limits the use of sugar, especially with berry fillings, which are already sweet enough, she says. Over 15 years of business, Chase has amassed commercial equipment that makes running her farm bakery easier, and increases production. She has a machine that will produce large sheets of crust dough at a time, a machine that Chase describes as “God’s gift to women.” She also has a large multi-rack oven and large cooling racks on rollers. Oh, and the kitchen window, that provides a view of the snow-covered pasture, adds a bit of inspiration to her work space. Chase Farm is located at 333 Townhouse Road in Whitefield. Robin takes pie and sweet bread orders by phone at 207-549-7611 or Saturday mornings at the Bath Farmers Market on Commercial St. in Bath.