The Great Agency-Wide Bake Off: Pie Week

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When I started my new job last month, the first email I opened was an announcement for this month’s agency-wide pie competition! I’m a huge fan of The Great British Bake Off series and nerd-out on the baking tips provided by the contestants and judges each season.

For the Great Agency-Wide Bake Off, I decided to put my growing knowledge of Filipino cooking to the test and make an ube pie. Ube is a purple yam that is typically boiled or roasted, mashed into a paste with water and sugar, and used in many Filipino desserts including halo-halo (a shaved ice dessert) and various pastries. Since sweet potato pie is a popular dessert that appears on Thanksgiving dinner tables across the United States, the ube pie is a delicious twist on a traditional American Thanksgiving sweet.

Following Daniela Galarza’s ube pie recipe on NYT Cooking this weekend, I combined mashed purple yam (Stokes purple sweet potatoes can be purchased at H Mart or any other Asian supermarket) with the sugars, eggs, heavy cream, and ube extract (God bless Amazon Prime) before mixing it into pure purple bliss in the food processor. The sight of purple batter pouring from the mixing bowl into the homemade graham cracker crust was as hypnotizing as a staring contest with Cheshire Cat, while the smells of ube and butter wafting from the oven throughout my apartment reminded me of ube cake by the Gwenie’s Pastries at their old pop-up shop in Rockville.

Although my test-bake was a huge hit with my friends at a weekend potluck, I was nervous about how the ube pie would be received by the three judges at yesterday’s office bake-off: Wow, so many apple tarts and pumpkin pies! Maybe I should have added a topping to offset the purple filling– WAIT is that a blow-torch in someone’s hand?! By the time the judging began and everyone was serving themselves endless slices of pie, I was both very impressed by my co-workers’ pie submissions and proud of myself for sharing my family’s holiday cravings with my new office mates.

The results of the Great Agency-Wide Bake-Off? Everyone left a winner with unique homemade awards by our agency’s social committee! Initially, I was quite shocked when I was presented with the “Most Patriotic Pie” award for the ube pie. However, I can’t think of anything more representative of my America than showcasing my family’s cultural heritage and culinary traditions in a holiday dessert for a diverse group of people to try out :)


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