With Thanksgiving and Christmas quickly approaching, the traditional flavors of smooth pumpkin and decadent pecan pies are a popular way to top off a sumptuous meal. But not everyone has the time or talent needed to create those desserts in their own kitchen.
Instead of relying on the frozen food section of a grocery store for mass-
produced pastry, menu planners can call ahead to local pie professionals and order their holiday baked goods to take home.
For decades, the go-to maker of mouthwatering pies in Hot Springs was the Club Cafe. Though the establishment has been closed for more than 20
years, those original recipes have had new life breathed into them by third-generation baker Cissy Morris.
Now working out of Coffee Love, 4832 Central Ave., Morris is bringing the sweetness of her family’s history alive by offering not only pumpkin and pecan, but also coconut cream, chocolate, peanut butter, egg custard, strawberry cheese and mincemeat varieties, all available to take home in either the standard 9-inch size, or as miniatures for a single serving each. Miniature pies can be ordered in a single flavor, or several types can be mixed within one order.
The granddaughter of Lillian and Jack Barnes, who opened Club Cafe, said her earliest memories of making pies date back to when Morris was about 6 years old. Her father would give her little potpie tins to fill, and her mother taught her how to crimp the crust’s edges.
She was 19 or 20 when she actually began learning the secrets of the family’s pie making, but she certainly never read a recipe, since they were never written down.
As she memorized measurements, her mother would say, “You don’t tell this to anybody.” And the information has remained guarded since.
Morris’ eyes twinkled as she recalled her work in the cafe each year during the week before Thanksgiving. It was women only who knew the pie filling recipes, so she, her mother and sister would labor around the clock to make the 1,000 orders.
She said of their efforts, “We would start on Sunday afternoon, and we would take naps. We would go to sleep for maybe 20 or 30 minutes, and then get back up and go again. We just did that, all three of us, and whoever we could beg or borrow or steal to help (get the pie crusts filled). We had a lot to do, but it was a lot of fun — I wish I could go back. … Not everybody has a childhood like that.”
Morris said she always feels her family’s hands with her as she bakes, and the lovingly prepared delights have once again begun to develop a following in the year she’s been at Coffee Love.
The most joyful part for her is “having people love our pies.” She said it’s been an honor to keep the Club Cafe’s legacy going, and she’s proud to be part of that circle of women who have guarded the secrets.
To take that freshly baked history home, Morris needs orders placed by the weekend before either Thanksgiving or Christmas. Call Coffee Love at 501-781-5006.
Customers can also choose to order holiday pies from additional local businesses including:
• Java Primo, 4429 Central Ave., offers the seasonal molasses pecan or
sweet potato pie with almond streusel topping, in addition to peanut butter chocolate, chocolate cream, and coconut cream pies.
Staff needs 24 hours’ notice for whole pie orders, and they can be placed online for the holidays only at http://www.javaprimo.com.
• Weldon’s Meat Market, 3911 Central Ave., will have seasonal favorites of pecan, mincemeat, apple or pumpkin, along with chocolate, coconut cream, banana cream, lemon meringue, and cherry.
Orders can be placed a week ahead by calling 501-525-2487.
• Debra’s Restaurant, 3371 Central Ave., has the holiday flavors of pumpkin, pecan, mincemeat or sweet potato, and classics including buttermilk, apple, cherry, and berry. Meringue cream pies come in chocolate, coconut or lemon, and her specialty frozen peanut butter pie or the “Out of this World” pie are also available.
• Orders can be placed up to one day ahead of pickup by calling 501-627-3327.