A slice of heaven

Cloverdale United Church’s blueberry pies will be selling like, well, blueberry pies, at the Cloverdale Blueberry Festival.

May Taylor

This isn’t your average, hum-drum pie from the frozen-food aisle.

Au contraire. This is a delicious, home baked, mouth-watering blueberry pie, created with local berries and pastry made from scratch, all served up with a big dose of TLC in every bite.

If you’re a fan, you already know you’ll have to get to the Cloverdale United Church blueberry pie booth at Surrey Museum plaza early to avoid disappointment.

“I know that every year, we’ve sold out long before the closing time and each year we’ve about doubled what we’ve baked the year before,” says May Taylor, who’s helping organize this year’s pie booth at the 9th annual Cloverdale Blueberry Festival Aug. 4.

“They’re home baked,” she says. “That’s why everybody likes them. We’re still making it the way you would make a blueberry pie at home.”

The pies may taste like a slice of heaven itself, but a healthy amount of work goes into the task of making enough pies for a festival, starting with the star ingredient: gathering enough fresh blueberries to make upwards of 150 pies.

Some berries are donated, some are paid for, and the rest are picked.

Last year about 10 bakers piled into a mini-bus and headed over to Krause Berry Farms, where they picked 100 pounds of blueberries by hand.

On the ride home, the bus was crammed with five-pound ice cream buckets filled with their bounty of berries.

The berries are cleaned and sorted, ensuring the berries are good enough.

“That takes another few hours.”

All of the pies are baked fresh.

The day before the blueberry festival, about 15 or so bakers gather in the church kitchen. They set to work early.

The crew is organized into a production line, with one person making pastry, the next rolling it out, the third mixing the blueberry filling, and so on, as each pie is assembled, topped and the pastry edges are crimped.

“We cook as many as we can at the church,” she says. “As soon as the first pie is made, it’s in the oven. Somebody’s tending the oven all day, and we keep baking them. By the time we’ve finished making them up, we take the rest home and bake them.”

Taylor expects she’ll have about one dozen to take home to bake, putting them into the oven two to three at a time.

“I have a very hot house,” she laughs, adding she keeps none of her handiwork. “My husband doesn’t like blueberry pie and I don’t need any.”

Along with the baking crew, dozens more volunteers from the church are needed on blueberry festival day to set up and operate the booth. Two Hazelmere United Church members are pitching in this year, Taylor says.

Surprisingly, the Cloverdale United Church’s blueberry pie tradition is only about five years old.

When it dawned on them that there was nowhere to buy homemade blueberry pies at a blueberry festival, church members decided to take the initiative on themselves.

She admits it’s always a very busy week getting the pies ready, but it’s definitely worth it.

Pie sales are an important church fundraiser, and the high-visibility event is also a good public relations opportunity, Taylor notes. “It must be a good value, or we wouldn’t be sold out,” she reasons.

Besides, “It’s fun,” says Taylor, who’s looking forward to baking more pies this year.

“There’s lots of laughter in the kitchen.”

The Cloverdale United Church pie booth will be located next to the clock at Surrey Museum plaza, next to the Surrey Archives building.

Slices and whole pies will be on sale, along with coffee and refreshments.

They’re toying with also selling muffins – just the thing to tempt those finicky folks who claim they don’t feel like eating pie in the morning, Taylor says.

“Maybe,” she says. “We’re talking about it.”