It’s often been said — and shouted, tweeted, and printed onto T-shirts — that life is what you make it, but at Harvest Moon Bakeshop, it’s much more accurate to say that life is what you bake it.
A boutique baking company based in Huntington, Harvest Moon Bakeshop is the brainchild of brother-and-sister team Joseph Weiss and Elena Hryb (Weiss does the business; Hryb does the baking). Out-of-this-world pies worthy of their bakeshop’s moon-inspired name are the delicious result.
“My grandma was a really good baker,” says Hryb. “She gave me a lot of her recipes. She was really into pies and I’ve always had this weird obsession with them, too. But when I graduated from culinary school [the Institute of Culinary Education] in 2010, cupcakes were really ‘in.’ So I thought, ‘People really love small desserts, but I love pies. What if I just combine them?’ ”
That “what if?” led Hryb to a sweet and serendipitous discovery, and what would eventually become her niche: mini pies.
“I was brainstorming and I had this idea,” says Hryb. “I just loved the idea of doing a mini pie. Whole pies can be overwhelming; you have a few slices and you’re done. But with a mini pie, you could share or just eat the whole thing yourself. I started researching online, but I didn’t really see anything. No one was making them, so I thought, ‘I’m just going to do this myself. And I’m going to do sweet and savory.’ ”
Pies like the Villager (feta, dill, roasted tomato, spinach and butter crust) and the Loaded Potato (cheddar, scallion, bacon and sour cream crust) sit alongside sweet standards such as Salted Caramel Apple Pie and Blueberry Crumb.
“I went through so many pie tins,” says Hryb. “And then I finally found The One.”
The One, it turns out, is about four bites. Small enough to qualify as mini, but big enough to share (though, after tasting one, I’ll bet you won’t want to).
“I just really started to build my business,” says Hryb. “And then, in 2013, I moved with my husband to Hampton Bays and I thought, ‘This is the perfect time to do this.’ I already had the idea and I just looked around and saw that I had access to all this amazing local fruit and vegetables. It was just the right time.”
Hryb’s pies quickly found their way to local country clubs and golf courses, her mini pies proving the perfect size for a pre-round bite. Anderson Cooper became a celebrity fan. Hryb was eventually asked to supply pies for a golf outing hosted by comedian Jimmy Fallon.
With Harvest Moon taking off, Hryb grew increasingly busy. “I was covering both forks every weekend,” she says. “I was at Laurel Lake Vineyards — where I paired my pies with their wines — every Saturday, and at the Southampton Farmers Market every Sunday. Everybody knew me as the Pie Lady. From there, I started doing weddings.”
Both business and baking were going well when, in February, Hryb had to temporarily close up shop (really, a commercial kitchen in Bay Shore) to move with her husband to Huntington.
“We had to move for his job,” says Hryb. “I stopped baking to help with the move, but then spring came I started to get the itch. It’s just such a part of me. I started baking again for friends and family, knowing that I wanted to open Harvest Moon again.”
And now, of course, she has. Harvest Moon Bakeshop is back and in business, with the same commitment to taste, ingenuity and locally sourced ingredients with which it got started.
“Where I source my ingredients has always been really important to me,” says Hryb. “I’ve gone into this with a lot of integrity. I’m local; I want to support local. In the beginning, I’d go to three markets a week just to find the best ingredients, and I’m happy to say I’m doing the same thing now. I use organic ingredients as much as I can. I mean, I just baked 230 mini caramel apple pies for a wedding at Bourne Mansion, and I went out and personally picked the apples at Woodside Orchards.”
All of Harvest Moon’s pies are baked to order. Each pie on Harvest Moon’s menu is available in full and mini-size, with crusts specially baked for each one.
“Each pie has a different crust,” says Hryb. “It’s important to me that the crust really complements the filling’s flavor. A lot of times with pies, the crust is kind of forgotten. People eat around it. I wanted to change that.”
To taste the Harvest Moon difference, you’ll have to get in touch with Hryb directly (since she doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar shop just yet). She does, however, take special orders based on dietary restrictions, and even better? She delivers.
“I just really love what I do,” says Hryb.
Taste one of her pies and you’ll know it.
To place an order with Harvest Moon Bakeshop, call 516.322.3841 or send an e-mail to [email protected]. All orders for Thanksgiving must be received by November 13.
This story was originally published in October 2015.