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Explore Western New York's proper pies

“As American as apple pie,” the saying goes – but it should go further.

Even more emblematic of this nation, which holds multitudes, would be a table laden with a profusion of pies. A galaxy of diverse delights, representing various visions of deliciousness, united in their mission to please. There is nothing better than family pie, of course, lovingly crafted by each clan’s designated pastry ninja.

Professional pie has its place, though, for the ninja-deprived and those looking to add something special to the party. From the Concord grape capital of the world to Niagara County’s fruit belt, Western New York bakers are fashioning works worthy of Thanksgiving dessert tables.

Here are seven operations that make finding fabulous pie a piece of cake.

1) Pecan maple pie ($22) and triple-berry oat crumb pie ($22) from Elm Street Bakery
72 Elm St., East Aurora; 652-4720

Elm Street Bakery pie highlights include their pumpkin pie, left, and their triple berry oat crumb pie. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Elm Street Bakery pie highlights include their pecan maple pie, left, and their triple berry oat crumb pie. Click for a larger image. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

All-butter crusts and locally grown fruit are standard here. The pecan maple pie from Luci Levere and her team adds local flavor by replacing corn syrup with maple syrup produced in Varysburg. The triple berry has strawberries, blueberries and raspberries from Awald Farms in North Collins, topped with oat streusel. The bakery uses freshly frozen Awald berries throughout the holiday season.

[Related: See Sharon Cantillon's robust photo gallery of pies and pie vendors]

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2) Concord grape pie ($22) and peach-lattice pie ($18) from Portage Pie
42 N. Portage St., Westfield, 232-4036

Two standout pies from Portage Pie are the Concord grape pie, left, and the peach-lattice pie. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Two standout pies from Portage Pie are the Concord grape pie, left, and the peach-lattice pie. Click for a larger image. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Down the street from the Welch’s Concord grape processing plant, Connie Thayer and her crew are processing Concords too. Those will end up filling pies at her little bakery, a mile from the Thruway. Her pleasingly flaky vegetable shortening crust heightens the pleasure of her lattice-top peach pie, which starts with real fruit, like all of her work.

[Related: Andrew Galarneau's last centerfold - photos of creative salads]

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3) Pumpkin pie ($16.95) and streusel-stuffed apple pie ($21.95) from Farmers and Artisans
4557 Main St., Amherst, 633-2830

Galarneau highlights the pumpkin pie and streusel-stuffed apple pie from Farmers and Artisans. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Galarneau highlights the pumpkin pie and streusel-stuffed apple pie from Farmers and Artisans. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Julie Blackman brings pumpkins from her family’s Lockport farms to cook into puree and turn into pies sold from her Snyder store. Apples and Concord grapes from Blackman Homestead Farm are available in pie form there too. One apple version has a layer of streusel under the all-butter crust. They’re sold frozen to bake at home, or call ahead to have them baked and ready.

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4) Chocolate peanut butter cream pie ($28) from Big Suzie’s Little Bakery
By appointment at 3345 Delaware Ave., Kenmore, 725-7356

The chocolate peanut butter cream pie from Big Suzie's Little Bakery. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

The chocolate peanut butter cream pie from Big Suzie's Little Bakery. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Susan Trankle sells most of her fruit and cream pies in single-serving sizes from her food truck. But customers can order full-sized versions of her cream pies to pick up at her Kenmore commissary. (She also makes fruit pies, as well as other sweets from brownies to cakes.) The banana cream (graham cracker crust) and chocolate peanut butter cream (shortbread crust) are particularly dreamy.

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5) Tom’s Ultimate Cherry Pie ($35, plus $5 plate deposit) from Singer Farm Naturals
6730 Lake Road, Appleton, 778-7077

Tom's Ultimate Cherry Pie from Singer Farms. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Tom's Ultimate Cherry Pie from Singer Farms Naturals. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

What pie could be worth $35? One that contains $25 worth of cherries. Its butter crust holds Balaton and Montmorency cherries, dried and frozen, plus the farm’s cherry juice concentrate. It’s a jammy, intense cherry experience lent complexity by the varieties. It’s called Tom’s Ultimate Cherry Pie, but “Cherry Bomb” works too. Call to order, pick up at Appleton store (where a slice is $5) or North Tonawanda Farmers Market.

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6) Apple crumb pie ($12) from Sanger Farms
852 Youngstown Lockport Road, Youngstown, 745-7297

The apple crumb pie from Sanger Farm. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

The apple crumb pie from Sanger Farms. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

The pie-baking started here as a way to use the bounty of apples and peaches grown by the farm family, Sandy Tuck explained. Having traveled such a short way, the fruit couldn’t be fresher. Apple pie varieties are predominant in season, but strawberry-rhubarb and cherry are available, all packed into a hand-rolled vegetable shortening crust.

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7) Caramel walnut apple pie ($15) from Hall’s Apple Farm
6100 Ruhlmann Road, Lockport, 434-0838

Caramel-walnut apple pie from Hall's Apple Farm. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Caramel-walnut apple pie from Hall's Apple Farm. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

A sixth-generation apple farming family led by Bob Hall operates a small Lockport bakery. There, fresh Niagara County fruit is piled into sturdy vegetable shortening crusts. Customers can pick up pies already baked, or take home frozen ones that will perfume their home as they bake. One favorite starts with the farm’s apples before it’s topped with walnuts and caramel.

Email Andrew Galarneau at agalarneau@buffnews.com

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