Falconer Woman Takes Pie-Baking To Another Level
One would be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful pie than those baked by Nikki Pierce.
The golden-brown works of art, not only look amazing, they are so delicious, the taste buds beg for more. She didn’t begin baking at her grandmother’s side as one would imagine. In fact, her pie-baking history is relatively short.
“An employer gave me a small cookbook when I went to college and when we got married, my mother-in-law gave me recipes for a shower gift.”
In the early years, when her husband attended the police academy, she prepared casseroles and inexpensive meals. After she started using allrecipes.com, she stopped getting recipes from others and began experimenting with spices and a variety of oils. About 15 years ago, she began hosting Thanksgiving dinners for 10-15 people and holding parties for groups of as many as 20 friends.
“That’s when I started the pie thing. I called my mother-in-law and my mother for pie crust recipes.” She used their recipes to make the dough, but did not use the dough for her pies because it wasn’t the crust she had been looking for. When she eventually found the recipe she had been wanting, it ended up being one for a French pastry crust.
“What you’ll find with my pies is they are just different. It’s not an American pie. It is more of a
French pie. Kind of an amalgam of American pie and French pastry.”
When baking pies became her passion, she made the decision to start a business to allow her to sell them to others. After having her kitchen inspected and her water tested, she acquired a New York State Article 20C Home Processor Waiver, which allows her to bake food to sell from her home. When she couldn’t decide on a name for her business, her husband suggested Persnikkity after the nickname her Uncle Bob Olson had given her as a child. Persnikkity Pies was started in March of 2021. All of her baked goods come in boxes that are labeled with a list of ingredients and allergens. Each one of the pie fillings has been created by Mrs. Pierce, including pumpkin, which she begins by roasting sugar pumpkins.
Persnikkity pies may be ordered by phone or purchased at pop-up events, which happen when a shop owner invites her to their business to sell her product. In order to make this possible, her father-in-law made a 2-piece mobile pie stand for these special events which she transports in her Tahoe. The pie stand’s curtains were made by her mother and her niece, Haley, painted the business’ name on the stand.
For her first pop-up, which was held at Memory Lane, she baked 22 pies, 20 mini-pies, 20 hand pies and 5 loaves of bread, which were completely sold out in 22 minutes. Since then, she has been invited to hold pop-ups at Pea Pod and Juniper and ART Cloth and Craft, with more planned for the future. She pays one or both of her daughters to work with her at these events.
“It’s a really great way for customers to find out about another resource in the community.”
Her list of pie offerings is lengthy. It includes all of the common flavors available in most bakeries and others not usually found, such as apple-raspberry, maple-apple, peach-raspberry and peach-blueberry. Dutch peach completes the list of 16 varieties. She intends to offer mince pies for the holidays and is considering making cookie trays, as she has made them for her personal use for many years.
Pie baking is her side job. Her full-time job is with the Chautauqua County Probation Department. Prior to that she was a stay-at-home mom for ten years.
“All of my adult career has been working with at risk families, at risk youth and families who have been involved with law enforcement. I have always worked in human services and never in retail sales.”
She admits that owning a bakery has been her dream since 2012. Her other interests include family and friends, vegetable, flower and herb gardening, travel and she enjoys decorating her home.
“I love decorating in a French hunt style, which started with the purchase of a reproduction of ‘The Stag’ at a Lake Placid antique shop.”
There is a lot to take in in her living room, such as a set of moose antlers and a beautiful carving of a rooster made by her father, but it is not cluttered and is nicely arranged. She became interested in Cobalt Blue Depression glass at a young age and started purchasing it yard sales with her own money when she was 16-years old. She cherished her glassware collection so much so that she took it with her when she went to college. She also collects various antique plates which she displays.
She is married to Kevin Pierce, a detective with the Town of Ellicott and who grew up near the home in which they now reside. He is a Sinatra fan. She likes rap, grunge, old school rock n’ roll and country music.
“I love any music,” says the Falconer woman.
The Pierces have three children. Cal graduated from Falconer Central School where his sisters attend. Addison is a Sophomore and Katherine is in the eighth grade. The family has quite a menagerie of pets starting with three Boston Terriers, “a big fat cat named Al,” a rabbit, 26 chickens and three coy fish who reside in a little pond in the back yard.
She always felt she was rather flexible having three children, but had to learn to be even more flexible when Covid-19 visited her home last year. Kevin was the nineteenth person to test positive for the virus in Chautauqua County. The entire family never left the house while being quarantined from March 17 to April 24.
The baker has offered some of her original recipes. She was inspired to develop the Roasted Red Pepper and Sundried Tomato Pesto Dip after having something similar in a local restaurant. She concentrated on what she believed she was tasting when she was served the eggplant dish and then went on to recreate it.
Pictures of Persnikkity Pies can be seen along with a list of the varieties offered and their pricing at www.persnikkitypies.com
Autumn Stuffed Squash
1 butternut squash
Liberal amount of brown sugar
Liberal amount of butter
Chopped pecans or walnuts
One Cortland or McIntosh apple, peeled and diced
Sage, thyme, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, pepper
Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds. Place upside down on a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Roast at 400 degrees for approximately 25 to 30 minutes or until soft and easy to scoop out. Put in jar of food processor with about a tablespoon of heavy cream. Process until smooth. In a separate bowl, mix diced apples, nuts and raisins with melted butter and brown sugar. Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray and put the processed squash in the baking dish. Top with apple, nut, raisin mixture and sprinkle with slight amount of all the above listed spices. Bake at 350 until bubbly and a little browned, usually about 20 minutes.
Options-If you choose to use acorn squash, roast squash until done. Do not scoop it out. Stuff with apple, nut, raisin mixture and bake until heated through.
Roasted Red Pepper and Sundried Tomato Pesto Dip
3 large roasted red peppers
1-10oz jar sundried tomatoes packed in oil
2 c fresh basil leaves
1/3 c pecans
1/2 c Romano cheese
1 T dried or fresh oregano
2 T garlic paste
1/2 tsp lemon juice
Pinch red pepper flakes
Separate tomatoed from oil. Reserve oil. Put all ingredients, except for oil and mozzarella cheese into food processor. Blend until smooth. Add reserved oil until combined. Spoon into a baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Top with Mozzarella and bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes, covered or uncovered.
Low-Carb Eggplant Parmesan Lasagna
1 large head broccoli, cut into florets
1 can mushroom stems and pieces
8 oz Ricotta cheese
12 oz small curd cottage cheese
1 large jar low-sugar red sauce
Cheeses, such as Mozzarella, fresh-grated Parmesan, asiago
Desired herbs and spices for dredging
Slice eggplant about 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle with salt and place in colanders for about an hour to expel extra juices. Spray a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish with non-stick spray and set aside. In food processor pulse broccoli florets and mushrooms to a rough consistency. Set aside. Mix ricotta and cottage cheese along with two eggs and any desired spices and herbs (salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, parsley, etc.) in a large bowl and set aside. Beat remaining egg and place on a plate and pour almond flour on another plate. Stir any desired spices/herbs for dredging into flour. Rinse each piece of eggplant in cold water and press between paper towels. Dip eggplant slices into egg and then dredge with flour mixture. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In small batches of 4 or 5 slices, fry eggplant for about 4-5 minutes on each side and then place on paper towel lined plate until all pieces are fried. Assemble lasagna by placing 5-6 slices of eggplant on bottom of baking dish, Top each slice with a generous dollop of the ricotta mixture. Place generous dollops of the broccoli/mushroom mixture between the ricotta dollops. Top with cheeses. Pour half of the jar of red sauce over this layer. Repeat above step for second layer. Add a generous amount of mozzarella on the top of second layer. Gently push the top down a bit with the back of a spatula. Bake at 350 degrees uncovered or covered, based on whether you like the top layer browned or not.