Carissa Waechter certainly has many proverbial irons (in this case, namely breads and cakes) in the fire. Dubbed the East End’s Baker-In-Chief, Waechter, who owns Carissa’s the Bakery at 68 Newtown Lane in East Hampton, is launching a 3,500-square-foot, all-day restaurant at 221 Pantigo Road (also in East Hampton), and acts as the pickled rye bread dealer to a cult following. Yes, people have gone to great lengths to get their fix, including requesting loaves be sent to Manhattan by way of the Hampton Jitney.
A former New York City pastry chef, Waechter has long had a passion for baking. The recipe for success began to take shape when she moved to the East End to work with Eli Zabar. Through her role with the Amagansett Farmers Market, she discovered Amber Waves Farms was growing wheat in Amagansett and developed close relationships with other local farmers. In 2010, she officially launched her own brand, Carissa’s Breads. She also co-founded the Amagansett Food Institute (AFI) before opening the flagship location of Carissa’s The Bakery in spring of 2017 with partner Lori Chemla.
Carissa’s the Bakery was founded on quality, locally grown ingredients. According to Chemla, the ethos of the Carissa’s is “of the time and of the moment,” featuring seasonal produce from local farms such as Balsam Farms, Stones Throw Farm, Amber Waves Farm, Briermere Farms and more.
Waechter echoed this sentiment and confirmed she strives to highlight seasonal produce as much as possible, getting creative with unpredictable harvests.
“In general, any natural overlaps of fruits tend to offer the most delicious combinations. I’m always excited about the unique opportunities the crossover of seasons allow, as you really can’t perfectly plan for them,” Waechter said. “Last year for example, rhubarb lasted much further into the season than ever before. It actually coincided with the availability of figs, which forced me to think a bit out-of-the-box and come up with unique specials for that small window of time.”
This time of year, Waechter likes to pair strawberries and plums to result in strawberry-plum summer pies.
“Usually strawberries have a longer growing season than plums, but they always overlap in some capacity,” Waechter said. “Each reach their peak flavor close to the same time, which of course allows for great pies!”
She loves to source fruit from Briermere Farms on the North Fork and looks forward to making this sumptuous treat every summer.
“I love each component about this pie. I’m really proud of our crust, which is made from local wheat that we mill here at the bakery,” she said. “The meringue is always fun to decorate, and the use of seasonal ingredients is really important to us. I think it’s a great example of what we try to accomplish with all of our food-classic techniques, whimsical style, local ingredients and rustic yet polished approach.”
Waechter’s Strawberry-Plum Pie:
*Substitute whole wheat flour if fresh milled wheat is unavailable
Combine all dry ingredients and cut in cold butter until mixture begins to look sandy. Add water and mix until just combined. Line 9-inch pie tin.
Strawberry Plum Pie Filling:
Preheat oven to 350° F. In a large bowl, toss together the fruit, sugar and cornstarch. Place fruit filling in lined pie shell and bake at 350* for 45 minutes, or until fruit bubbles. Let cool and top with citrus meringue.
Combine ingredients and heat over steam till very hot to the touch. Whisk till very stiff peaks form. Whisk in 1T citrus juice-lemon, lime or bergamot if available and top pie with finished meringue and edible flower petals.