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[Photo: Robyn Lee]

No matter how many times we visit the New Amsterdam Market, we stumble upon something new and delicious. Case in point? The pies from Shandaken Bake, Craig Thompson's bakery in the Catskills.

First of all, they're just about the most gorgeous, Thanksgiving magazine cover, rustically charming pies we've ever seen. (We're more than a little pie-jaded at Serious Eats these days, but the mere sight of this pie brought a crowd to the table.) The apple white crumb pie is the one Thompson insisted we try—and it turned out to be the best pie we've had this pre-holiday week.

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The sliced Empire apples, which aren't cooked before they're layered into the crust, soften beautifully, retaining just a bit of a bite, and take on a concentrated cider-like depth that's pure autumn. The white crumb on top added buttery crumble and a little sweetness, and it's good enough you find your knife "accidentally" knocking off crumbs as you're cutting a slice—so that you can scoop those up and add them to your plate, too.

The crust wasn't quite as flaky as we'd like (though Thompson generally bakes with just butter, this pie crust incorporated leaf lard, as well). But given how perfect the apples and crumb topping were, we had no problem at all overlooking tiny imperfections. It's a pie that seems homemade in the very best of ways—made by someone thoughtful about what he's doing, made with attention and care—in a way that inclines you toward appreciating every bite. "I wanted the memory of my Mom's apple pie to come through in this," Thompson told us. "But I wanted to surpass it, too."

After a pie-filled month, this is the one we're still talking about.

Shandaken Bake will be selling pies at the New Amsterdam Market this Sunday, November 21, and at every market meeting through December 19. 8" pies are $26.00, 4" pies are $10.00.

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