A slice of perfection

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie, topped with fresh, homemade cream, is one of the top sellers.

Melbourne bakery offers a unique combination of dessert and dinner pies

Joan Flavin

Joan Flavin decided to start her pie-making business after her children had left for college 12 years ago. SUE DEWERFF PHOTOS

Whether a scrumptious chicken, beef or veggie pot pie, an ever-popular holiday mince, apple, or coconut cream dessert pie — or a Chocolate Espresso or not-so-sweet Sour Orange — a selection from Joan’s Perfect Pie is sure to be a gift that won’t be exchanged, regifted or left under the Christmas tree until New Year’s.

Of course, the traditional pumpkin or pecan could be the perfect addition to a Thanksgiving feast. Topped with handmade fresh cream; there are few desserts that can compare.

Tucked away in a quiet courtyard on Highland Avenue in the Eau Gallie Arts District, the tiny pie bake shop is big on freshness, quality and flavor.
It was 12 years ago, after her children went off to college, when Joan Flavin decided to get into the pie baking business.

“I had always had a desire to do something creative,” she said. “I started making pies for my neighbors and friends.

“Then I decided to rent a commercial kitchen where I was able to make enough quantity to begin offering them for sale. Not long after, I made the decision to secure a storefront bakery in the EGAD, Eau Gallie Arts District, on Highland Avenue. I think the rest is history!”

Staff bakers

Staff bakers, left to right, Debbie Cromwell, Angel Carlson, Joan Flavin, owner, and Shannon MacIntyre work at the Bake House, where the handmade pies and cinnamon rolls are made.

Mini tarts, quiches and meat pies

Mini tarts, quiches and meat pies are popular choices for a quick lunch, dinner or dessert treat.

While Flavin said the filling is something many savor when it comes to dessert pies, quiches, or other varieties, her perspective has always been, “a great crust — that is truly what makes a great pie.”

“I never could make a decent pie crust, even after following many recipes,” she explained. “I began researching the options and soon was convinced; it’s all about the butter. The butter is melded into the flour and water and bakes into the crust as it melts.”

Additionally, the other secret to her prefect crust is porcelain beads that are used to blind bake the crust, a technique that prevents the dough from rising in the pan. The colorful beads are placed on top of an aluminum foil pie plate sheathing that is fitted into the baking dish.

Porcelain beads

Porcelain beads, used in the crust-making process, are designed to prevent a soggy pie bottom at the Bake House.

“Many times beans are used for this, but I found the beads work well, thus we have been using them as part of our pie crust baking process,” she said.

Flavin said many of her recipes come from cookbooks, online websites, and even from her customers.

“It’s always interesting to hear their stories about grandma’s favorite pie recipes.”

Flavin’s favorite, blueberry, is one that is made with wild blueberries from Maine.

“We’ve had folks come in and ask us to make specialty pies using all kinds of fruits, nuts and unique combinations, including mangoes and lychee fruits, native to the area.”

Flavin said her best-selling dessert pie is as All-American as baseball, an old-fashioned apple pie that is made with subtle hints of nutmeg and other spices swirled into the filling.

Debbie Cromwell

Debbie Cromwell places a few dessert pies into one of the ovens at the bakery.

A few of the favorite cream and chocolate delights include Joan’s Perfect Pie selections that are both unusual and likely unavailable at most groceries or other local retail outlets. The Salted Carmel Chocolate Pecan, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Almond Joy, Banana Cream, Guava Cream and the Sour Cream Cherry are available on the dessert pie menu, one that boasts 30 varieties.

Second to the apple is the Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie, which is made with chocolate ganache, peanut butter mousse, plus more peanuts and loaded with chocolate on top. It has been a best seller on the dessert pie menu since Day 1.

pie crust

According to bakery owner, Joan Flavin, a great crust is what makes a great pie.

For those who enjoy fruit pies, the Strawberry Rhubarb, Cherry Berry and Apple Cranberry are options that are sure to please the palate.

A tropical combination, made with pineapple, cream cheese and coconut, the Hula Pie may be the choice that could bring back memories of an island vacation. And the Key Lime, one Flavin described as a must try, can be sampled via the mini-Key Lime tarts.

All cream pies are created with heavy cream, made daily using no preservatives.

For those who want to add a little zing to a Kentucky Derby celebration, The Derby, made with chocolate, pecans and a hint of Kentucky bourbon, is sure to be the winner.

For those on a low-sugar, no-sugar diet, Joan’s Perfect Pie bakery offers specialty orders to accommodate these requests.

retail shop

The new retail shop is just down the street from the bakery at 1431 Highland Ave.

Opened in July, the retail shop is a block south and across the street from the original location now known as The Bake House. It serves as a quaint and airy casual dining area where customers can enjoy a coffee and cinnamon roll, a smaller size quiche or one of the many delicious mini-tarts while waiting for their order or while just taking a break after shopping in the EGAD. The décor is as colorful as the smells are inviting.

A wall mural of a gigantic slice of pie, painted in bright orange, blue and brown hues, is the focal point of the new retail store. Designed and created by Sarah Peck, a local EGAD artist, it is a stunning work that not only complements the store’s décor, but offers photo opportunities for those wanting to capture and document their “pie and quiche tasting” experience.

Most of the dessert pies, meat and veggie pies, quiches and tarts can be purchased unbaked and kept frozen until served. All are sold with detailed baking instructions.

The expansion of the retail outlet at 1431 Highland Ave. is designed to accommodate space in the rear of the store to box and ship orders for local, overnight or next-day delivery across the state and country.

Orders can be placed via the GrubHub app as well.

“We have had many customers who have expressed their desire to gift our pies to relatives and friends for several occasions, especially Father’s Day,” she said.

Joan’s Perfect Pie has won several awards in recent years at the National Pie Council’s regional competition for its Almond Joy and Strawberry Rhubarb pies.

“We are very humbled to be able to have not only competed in these events, but to have received these honors,” Flavin said.

“We welcome folks to stop by and bring their recipes, thoughts, and of course, their appetite for any of our bakery items. My staff and I, of whom I am very grateful for, are always anxious to hear from customers about their individual experiences of how they found us and what they enjoyed most about our pies.”

See the original article in the print publication

Joan’s Perfect PieJoan’s Perfect Pie

Address: 1431 Highland Ave., Melbourne
The Bake Shop: 1478 Highland Ave., Melbourne
For more information:
Visit www.joansperfectpie.com or call 321.610.7953 for hours of operation, full menu and pricing.