Chef Jihad Muhammad prepares to package a pie at Imani's Original Bean Pies and Fine Foods, Inc., in South Shore on Oct. 25, 2022. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

CHICAGO — Bakers throughout the city have been racing to meet their Thanksgiving pie quotas so that Chicagoans can enjoy the holiday’s signature dessert. 

With Thanksgiving less than two weeks away, time is running out to get your pie orders in. 

For bakeries, the holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year. Michael Ciapciak, who founded Bang Bang Pies & Biscuits in 2011, said his bakery typically turns out 5,000 pies in November. 

“It takes a lot of planning and strategizing and teamwork to pull off that many pies,” Ciapciak said. 

Pie making is labor intensive because most of the work is done by hand, said Dobra Bielinski, who opened Delightful Pastries, 5927 W. Lawrence Ave., with her daughter in 1998. 

“We have to roll out the dough, cut it out, flute it by hand, so it’s a bit of a project,” Bielinski, said. “And that’s not even thinking about the fillings. We peel hundreds of pounds of apples before we can even roast them.” 

Chef Dobra Bielinski poses for a portrait behind the counter at Delightful Pastries in Chicago’s Portage Park neighborhood on Feb. 8, 2021. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

Both Ciapciak and Bielinski usually call in reinforcements to help with rolling out dough, peeling apples, chopping pecans and boxing hundreds of pies. 

While Bielinski’s preparing the pies, her mom makes soups and her dad fixes the equipment that “always seems to break down during the holidays,” she said.  

“When my dad’s not fixing something, he says he’s quality control,” Bielinski said. “He’s like, ‘I’m here to test things out,” so we let him be the official taster.” 

Delightful Pastries’ Cranberry Fudge Pie blends cranberries with a chocolate and walnut filling. Credit: Provided//Delightful Pastries

To beat the annual pie rush, Bielinski’s mom has already secured two cranberry fudge pies to make sure her Thanksgiving dinner goes the way she wants it to.

“She hasn’t stopped talking about how we ate all of her cranberry fudge pie last year,” Bielinski said. “She’s still mad over that. We serve so many pies because she believes that every few hours, we should have some more dessert.” 

The Bielinskis also plan to have pumpkin pie and bourbon chocolate pie so everyone can have a piece of their favorite kind. 

Ciapciak’s favorite is the chocolate pecan pie because its graham cracker crust stuffed with dark chocolate and pecan filling tastes “rich, dark and intense.” His kids prefer a classic pumpkin pie, while the bakery’s most popular pie year-round is key lime. 

“It’s certainly a high-stress, hectic time of year, but once all the pies are baked and boxed, I’d say my favorite part is distributing the pies right before Thanksgiving,” Ciapciak said. “It’s great to see people’s excitement, knowing they’re going to share their favorite pie with their family and friends.” 

“It makes all the hard work and planning worth it.” 

We’ve rounded up a few Chicago options 

Aya Pastry: This year, the bakery is offering an apple crumble pie, chocolate bourbon pecan pie and spiced pumpkin pie, priced $32-$37. Grab a bundle of all three for the discounted price of $95. You can even toss in a jar of vanilla bean whipped cream to use as a topping. Order online before noon Tuesday and pick up your treats Nov. 17-22. 1332 W. Grand Avenue. 

Bagel Miller: This year, you can get a roasted pumpkin graham pie and Michigan apple or cherry pies. Add a bagel and cream cheese platter to feed all the guests who show up to your gathering early. Pies cost $35-45. Order online for pickup Nov. 23. 4655 N. Lincoln Ave.

Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits: You can pair your pie with Thanksgiving flowers from Flowers for Dreams when you order ahead online before Friday. This year’s new creation is a cranberry cheesecake pie, but the bakery also offers all-time favorites like apple, key lime and pumpkin pies. In addition to desserts, you can pick up biscuits and pot pies to round out your Thanksgiving dinner. 

Online orders can be picked up Nov. 21 or Nov. 22 at the Logan Square Shop, 2051 N. California Ave., but they can also be delivered. Pies cost $33-$55. If you add flowers, the bundle costs $145-160. 

Caramel cakes for sale at Brown Sugar Bakery. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

Brown Sugar Bakery: Why settle for a sweet potato pie when you could get a two-layer caramel cake with it? Pair the two deserts together for $48.99. Order online for pickup Nov. 20-22. 328 E. 75th St. 

Cadinho Bakery: This year’s new flavor is called Bola de Bolacha, a Portuguese cake made of espresso-soaked cookies layered with Swiss coffee buttercream. Other options include a boozy maple bourbon pecan pie and an all-time classic, triple chocolate French silk pie. Pies cost $38-$42. Place your orders by messaging the bakery on Instagram or Facebook as soon as possible. 

Delightful Pastries’ seasonal holiday bread includes nuts and cranberries. Credit: Provided//Delightful Pastries

Delightful Pastries: The menu features twists on classic holiday pies, such as cranberry fudge and bourbon pecan pie, plus homemade soups, breads, quiche and sides to complete the meal. This year’s new addition is a mocha créme brulée pie, which combines coffee, caramel and chocolate for a “bittersweet” flavor. Pies cost $26-$32. You can order online or call 773-545-7215 until Saturday. Online orders take 48 hours to process and must be a minimum of $36. 5927 W. Lawrence Ave.

If you want to learn to make your own pies before the holiday, Bielinski is hosting a Saturday class at the bakery. Sign up here

Defloured: This is the place to go if you’re searching for a gluten-free dessert. Thanksgiving pies must be ordered online by Thursday. Pies are $28-$36. 1477 W. Balmoral Ave. 

Edge of Sweetness: Find apple, blueberry, cherry, Key lime, pecan, pumpkin and sweet potato pies. If you can’t decide on one flavor, grab a pack of five mini pies. Check out their cinnamon French toast and holiday cookie box if you’re looking for other desserts. Pies cost $24-28. Order online for pickup Nov. 19-22. 6034 N. Broadway. 

Eméché Cakery and Cafe: In addition to the classics like sweet potato, pecan, caramel apple and key lime pies, peruse the bakery’s specialty holiday cakes. One of the most popular options is the caramel pound cake. Order online for pickup Nov. 21-22; there won’t be any extras. 3453 S. Prairie Ave. 

First Slice Cafe: In addition to pies, First Slice Cafe offers quiche, soups, entrees and sides. Last day to order online is Friday and items must be picked up Nov. 20-22. Pies come in small and large sizes, $22-$37. Locations in Andersonville, Ravenswood and Ravenswood Manor. 

Hoosier Mama Pie Company: The bakery is no longer taking pie pre-orders, but a limited number of pies will be available at the West Town and Evanston shops on a first-come, first-served basis Nov. 21-23. 

Cook Ibrahim Muhammad prepares navy beans at Imani’s Original Bean Pies and Fine Foods, Inc., in South Shore on Oct. 25, 2022. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

Imani’s Original Bean Pies & Fine Foods: These delectable pies are made from navy beans that have been softened and pureed with milk, eggs, sugar and nutmeg. Strawberry pie is a fan favorite, but Imani’s also has delicious vegan pies in blueberry, peach and apple flavors. Order ahead online. Pies come in small and large sizes, $9-$18. 2423 E. 75th St. 

Kasama: This modern Filipino bakery and restaurant’s most popular specialty is an ube and huckleberry basque cake, a buttery pound cake filed with ube pastry cream and huckleberries. They also offer lemon pecan pie and classic pumpkin pie. Order online, but hurry because they’re starting to sell out. Orders can be picked up Nov. 22. Prices are $58-65. 1001 N. Winchester Ave.

Mindy’s Bakery: This bakery mixed all your favorite treats together in its “Turducken of Pies.” The desert features a special brown butter graham cracker crust filled with a spiced pumpkin cheesecake and flourless chocolate cake. It’s topped with pecan caramel candy bar and toasted marshmallow. Order online by Wednesday. Pies can be picked up Nov. 21-22. Prices $45-50. 1623 N. Milwaukee Ave. 

Banana Whip Cream Pie is one of the sixteen pies available for Thanksgiving at Roeser’s Bakery. Credit: Provided//Roeser's Bakery

Roeser’s Bakery: In addition to its 16 pies, the full-service bakery has offered a wide selection of pastries, cakes, doughnuts, breads and other sweet treats for more than 100 years. Call ahead to reserve your pie at 773-489-6900 or pop into the bakery — and be ready for crowds. 3216 W. North Ave.

Spinning J: Thanksgiving pies and other holiday specials such as the cranberry yuzu meringue and guava cheescake are only available for pickup Nov. 21-23. order ahead online, but hurry because some treats are starting to sell out. The pies cost $38-$48. 1000 N. California Ave.

Vanille Patisserie: Thanksgiving specials include apple streussel, pecan, chocolate hazelnut and pumpkin pies. You can also find a variety of cakes, tarts, cookies and macaroons. Add a box of Thanksgiving cookies to any pie purchase for a discounted price of $23.95. Prices: $35-45. Order online here. 5229 S. Harper Court, as well as locations in Lincoln Park, Lakeview and the French Market.

Weber’s Bakery: Spruce up the kids’ table with brownies on a stick. New this year is a cranberry pear baked pie. Order online soon here, call 773-586-1234 or stop by 7055 W. Archer Ave.

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