Daryl Vickers 

The Boise Co-op bakery manager on the art and science of baking pies

According to Daryl Vickers, there's as much science in baking as there is art.

"Action, reaction...all sorts of variables," she said. "But for me, it's about the love. It's one of the most basic ways you can show how much you care. 'Here, I made this for you. Nourish yourself. Enjoy it.'"

Vickers bounced around food service in Boise for a while—she calls herself a "Jill of all Trades"—but when she got to the Boise Co-op, she found a home in the bakery.

"I love making pies: sweet potato, peach, pumpkin. I brag a bit, but I made a dang good pumpkin pie." Vickers said.

This time of year, she makes a lot of them. For the past two and a half years, Vickers has been the bakery lead at the Boise Co-op, heading up a team of bakers who will turn out countless cookies, cakes, cheesecakes and, especially, pies this holiday season.

Let's get right to it. What's the secret of making a great pumpkin pie?

Pulling it out of the oven just before you think it's done. It continues to cook a little bit, and if you bake it too long, you'll get that big crack down the middle as it dries out. Plus, the crust has to be absolutely perfect. Very flaky. Quite delicious.

Where do you get your pumpkins?

They're shipped in from Peaceful Belly Farm [in Boise]. We break them down by hand, roast them, scrape them. That's about as scratch as a pumpkin pie gets.

Tell me something most customers don't know about your bakery.

Everything is made from scratch. Everything. We're food alchemists.

How many different bakery items are you pushing out?

Our core set is 30 items, but there are a lot more for the holidays. Our cheesecakes are big sellers all year long, but we roll out a peppermint cheesecake that is wildly popular in December. Then there's our pumpkin swirl cheesecake with vanilla that's very popular for the holidays.

How do you make a perfect cheesecake?

A little lemon zest. It cuts the fat, so you might want a bigger piece. It maintains a really rich, velvety feel, but you don't have to say, "That's too much" after having three bites.

We can't forget about the cookies.

Twenty-seven different varieties.

Tell me about all the special orders you receive.

They're coming in all the time. Somebody needed 70 shortbread dipped cookies yesterday. We recently had a request for a bridal shower cake in the shape of a bustier.

All right then—now tell me more about the holidays.

We've been all hands on deck since October, and it just intensifies. For Thanksgiving, the Co-Op sells full Thanksgiving dinners, and every one of them comes with a pie.

Do you use liquor or liqueurs in your recipes?

The pecan pie has a little bit of amaretto in the filling. There's a bit of brandy in our pastry cream tarts. We'll put a bit of rum in coconut cake.

If someone were to visit the Co-op bakery for the first time, what might you recommend?

The mascarpone cheesecake. It's a bite of heaven. The mascarpone makes it a bit lighter, and we have a nice sugar sour cream in it. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but a sugar sour cream topping is quite delicious. Then we have our homemade caramel sauce on top. I don't know about you, but I can't get enough of caramel sauce in my life.

Can I assume that when you're invited to someone's house for a party...

You don't even have to ask. I always bring the pies.

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