Don't worry if you can't find Whitney Davison's two-month-old Pie Bakery right away. The former librarian opened her baking business last November in a former Pilates studio at 12635 Metcalf — it's in the same shopping center as House of Denmark, Chosun Korean Barbecue, and Shahrazade Cafe & Market — but she hasn't been able to afford a real illuminated sign yet. There is a banner, but frankly, you can get pie-eyed looking for it. Just follow the fragrance of baking pie crust.
Davison checked out of her library career last year after realizing that her passion was pies, not research. Interestingly enough, she's from Derby, Kansas — it's a small hamlet outside Wichita — and her signature pie is a New Orleans-style pie made from chocolate, walnuts and bourbon that sounds like the famous "Derby Pie" (a recipe now exclusively made by Kearns Kitchens in Kentucky), but tastes completely differently.
Since opening, Davison keeps her top sellers in constant supply (apple, cherry, a "magic lemon cake pie," a gooey brownie deluxe pie, derby pie) with rotating specials and a long list of specialty pies that she bakes to order. Davison also sells fresh challah bread, thickly iced cinnamon rolls and dinner rolls.
Her opening month was nearly derailed by all of her special orders for the Thanksgiving holiday. The day before Thanksgiving, her oven broke down and her schedule was set back by six hours. She got most of her orders completed, though, and, a month later, her Christmas pie business went flawlessly.
Davison's flaky crusts are vegetarian-friendly: Instead of traditional lard, Whitney Davison uses organic palm shortening. Davison also takes special orders for gluten-free pies, sugar-free pies and dairy-free pies. But she won't sell a pie that's both dairy-free and sugar-free: "It's just not edible," she says.
Davison has been experimenting with using the flavored olive oils and vinegars sold by the Tasteful Olive store in old Overland Park. She's offering blueberry pie made with blueberry balsamic vinegar and a pineapple pie made with the Tasteful Olive's tangerine-flavored balsamic vinegar. Davison says her fresh pies, made without preservatives, will last almost five days in the refrigerator or, if she vacuum-seals them, up to 10 days.