EVEN as a young girl, Amanda Wilbanks had baking in her blood. She felt happiest in the warmth of her mother’s kitchenoften retreating there to recreate family favorites or to try her hand at new recipes—but it wasn’t until many years later that her love for baking flourished into something greater than her younger self could’ve imagined.
“I’ve always loved to bake but had never made pie crust from scratch until my mother-in-law came into town and taught me how to make our all-butter crust and my husband’s favorite Buttermilk Pie,” Wilbanks says. “It was love at first bite.”
The crust was uniquely tender and flaky, made by adding cut butter into flour and mixing by hand until a dough formed. Using her mother-in-law’s all-butter pie crust recipe, Wilbanks started whipping up pies of her own, and soon the idea for Southern Baked Pie Company, formerly Buttermilk Pie Company, was born.
INGREDIENTS FOR SUCCESS
The time to try something new was ripe with opportunity. Amanda had graduated from the University of Georgia in 2009 with a degree in Marketing but found herself unfilled by her work. With only a few hundred dollars in her bank account, Wilbanks mustered up the courage to start her own pie company in 2012. “I had no choice but to make the business work,” she says.
In the early days of her budding pie business, when Amanda wasn’t pedaling pies out of her own home, she was stuffing her trunk full and shuttling to and from festivals to make ends meet. The holiday season was particularly lucrative, and when Wilbanks hit 500 sales, she decided to take a leap of faith. She would open her very own pie shop.
She started by offering four signature flavors—Caramel Pecan, Chocolate Chess, Buttermilk and French Coconut Custard—all of which are still available for purchase today. But even when she first opened her doors, Wilbanks knew that her professional pie-making journey was just beginning. “I’ve surprised myself (and others) along the way with the things I have accomplished by simply saying ‘yes,’” she explains. “Say ‘yes,’ and figure it out as you go.” “Even when I didn’t have an email list, I would sit a yellow legal pad out at events and ask people to sign up,” she recalls. “Even when I didn’t have a clue how to ship pies, I told corporate customers that I could, because I knew that meant I had to figure it out.”
It is precisely this can-do attitude—coupled, of course, with her irresistibly delicious pies—that has gotten Wilbanks where she is today. Southern Baked Pie Company has grown to include a large production facility, four locations throughout Georgia (Gainesville, Alpharetta and two in Atlanta), 40 employees, and a national mail order food business that ships all over the United States. As much as her pie business has evolved, however, Wilbanks has remained a constant. When she’s not in the kitchen baking pies—it’s nearly impossible to keep her out—she’s busy coming up with new marketing ideas, writing recipes for her new cookbook, or working on creative ways to grow the business.
The company now has six signature flavors that are available year-round in addition to a slew of seasonal specialties and a rotating pie of the month that is shipped directly to the doors of Pie of the Month Club members. But more than just dessert pies, Wilbanks’ collection of pies spans into dinner pies, too. Pie boxes are also available for purchase, which feature multiple pies or pie-making items in a single package. Options include the Southern Supper Box ($124.95), which contains your choice of three dinner pies, the Southern Sweet Box ($109.95), which contains your choice of three dessert pies, and Amanda’s Baking Essential Gift Bundle Box ($79.95), which includes a pie of your choice, a pie cutter, and a signed and gift-wrapped copy of Amanda’s cookbook.
And if you’re not particularly into pre-baked pies, fear not; Southern Baked Pie Company has many offerings that can satisfy your sweet tooth, including caramel sea salt or birthday cake popcorn, quiches, chocolate amaretto pecans, fruit-filled hand pies, and their very own pie mix should you get the baking bug this holiday season. (Amanda recommends novice bakers try their hand at baking a classic apple pie by tossing cinnamon, sugar, and a dash of cornstarch in with peeled and sliced granny smith apples and baking the pie until it bubbles golden brown.)
Non-edible items for sale include Amanda’s cookbook, Southern Baked: Celebrating Life with Pie—which features favorite family recipes—pie cutters that yield eight perfectly identical slices, pie servers, pie markers, candles, mugs, t-shirts, aprons and more.
To learn more about Southern Baked Pie Company, join their newsletter and order pies (and non-pie goodies) online at southernbakedpie.com.