Stuffing Our Pie Hole: La Panier vs. 3.14's Pumpkin Pie

The Dish

Nothing says Thanksgiving quite like pumpkin pie. And if you weren't already hyper aware that the turkey holiday is only days away, just try finding a pumpkin pie in Seattle. They sell out pretty quickly around these parts, proving this city is as crazy about desserts as it is holiday traditions. We were fortunate enough to score some pumpkin pie by-the-slice for this Versus challenge, and so will you be if you hurry! When it comes to a classic French bakery and a mom-and-pop pie shop, which establishment dishes it best?

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Photo by Julien Perry
The Rivals

Le Panier

1902 Pike Pl., 441-3669

This French bakery in Pike Place Market sells a crazy number of pumpkin tarts this time of year. The dense, chilled tart (a fancy French way of saying pie) is made with a phyllo dough base and filled with a traditional pumpkin pie filling. But unlike your mom's pumpkin pie, this dessert has a bit of a chewy texture because of the puffed pastry crust. And while that crust doesn't exactly make it fork-friendly, it sure does have a nice mouth feel to it. In fact, because the pie filling doesn't pull away from the crust like most homemade pumpkin pies, you can easily eat this with your hands, like a piece of pizza. At $3.50 a slice, this is a fantastic treat on a cold winter day.

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Photo by Julien Perry
3.14 Bakery

9602 16th Ave. S.W., 420-4784

If you're craving a traditional homemade pie, 3.14 has you covered. This slice of pie ($3) has everything you want and expect in a good pumpkin pie. Each slice comes from a fresh baked, made-from-scratch pie; a recipe that has been handed down through the owner's family for generations. The pie is very rustic, like something you would expect to pop out of your own oven. While you can almost feel the texture of each ingredient, the flavor is balanced. And the crust. The crust is one of the most flaky, buttery, fork tender crusts we've ever tasted on a pumpkin pie. The family that runs this newly opened White Center bakery has been making pies every Thanksgiving for themselves and loved ones, but this is the first year they're selling their pies retail. The first time we went they were out of pumpkin pie, but promised more within the hour. When we returned, we got a piping hot piece of pie that smelled like cinnamon and spices. We chilled it before we ate it, for the sake of comparison, and found a new reason to venture to White Center.

The Champ

We were lucky to have chosen two strong contenders for this challenge. Quite honestly, we've had some really bad pumpkin pies and weren't quite sure what these two Seattle bakeries would deliver. Plus, more than a few establishments had run out of pie by the time we got our grubby hands on our share, making us even more appreciative that we found two great places that were fully stocked. Back to the important stuff: the biggest difference between these two pies was construction. Le Panier's had the finesse of a French patisserie. It was refined in taste and appearance. 3.14's pie was less polished, but had a more intense flavor. It's the type of quintessential American pie they write holiday songs about. Le Panier's is the kind of pie you'd be proud to bring to someone's dinner party because it's beautiful and tastes good. Le Panier wins this challenge by a slice.

 
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