Sara Hayden, owner of Sara’s Tipsy Pies in Marine on St. Croix, wears many hats: entrepreneur, pie baker, recipe creator, philanthropist, wife and mother of five, including 10-year old triplets, a 12-year-old daughter who has Down syndrome and a 14-year old.
Hayden entered the pie-baking business four years ago, when she practiced large-batch pastry-making with the original owner of Fresh Fields bakery of Stillwater. She was inspired by her mother’s pie recipes, but wanted to add something special—a unique twist—that would help differentiate her business.
That twist was wine, beer and spirits, thus the name. The idea led her to local partners such as Lift Bridge Brewing Co., WineHaven Winery and Finnegans Beer.
“Sara included us in the fun side of recipe development—the tasting,” says Dan Schwarz, co-founder and CEO of Lift Bridge Brewing. “She brought the brewery team samples of each [pie] variation and solicited feedback.” With Lift Bridge Brewing, Sara settled on a recipe that includes its Chestnut brown ale. “The beer pairs very well with the apple pie because it has some cinnamon and spice in the beer itself.”
Similarly, Hayden has developed pies that feature WineHaven’s Stinger honeywine, Just Peachy, as well as sangria and strawberry rhubarb wines.
Hayden forged her most notable collaboration with Finnegans Beer—the “Pies with a Purpose” campaign. Through their partnership, a portion of the proceeds from the Sara’s Tipsy Pie’s salted caramel apple and maple-bacon-apple pies (with maple syrup that is locally sourced from Morley’s Maple Syrup in Luck, Wis.) are donated to the Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota.
“When Sara wanted to do ‘Pies With a Purpose,’ we helped her put together the model,” says Jacquie Berglund, CEO of Finnegans Inc., and Finnegans Community Fund. Finnegans donates all of the beer used in Pies with a Purpose.
One of the surprises of Hayden’s business came early in her career, after a Twin Cities Live segment on KSTP-TV. Minutes after the show aired, Hayden received a phone call from a local bride-to-be asking if she catered weddings. The answer was a resounding yes. Hayden did four weddings that first year, 14 the second, and 28 this past year. As a result, Hayden created a “Purposeful Wedding” offering on her website, where brides and grooms can choose Pies with a Purpose to serve their guests.
A recent challenge for Hayden was the Minnesota State Fair. “People told me to apply, but that I would never get it the first year.” When she did, she hired four new employees and had to speed up production. But Hayden didn’t panic. “How different is it from when I had two children under 2, one with Down syndrome, and I had to go on bed-rest for 20 weeks with my triplets? You learn to just go with it.”
“Sara has faced many challenges and she always meets them with a smile and a positive attitude,” says Schwarz. “Don’t be fooled by her smile; there aren’t many people with more determination and drive than Sara.”
Lingonberry-Apple Pie by Sara’s Tipsy Pies
Two 9” pie crusts
6-8 apples peeled, sliced thin
1 c. sugar; plus extra to sprinkle on top of crust
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 c. flour
1/2 c. lingonberry sauce (i.e. available at the Marine General Store, Marine on St. Croix)
2 T. butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg white (to create an egg wash)
Line a pie plate with one pie crust. Mix flour, cinnamon and sugar. Add apples to coat. Pile the apples into the pie plate. Pour lingonberry sauce on top of the apple mixture and then top with cut butter pieces. Top the pie with the top crust. Brush the crust with an egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake at 375 degrees for 50-60 min. The pie should be golden brown when done.
Want a slice?
Where to Find:
Frozen or fresh at Marine General Store, Marine on St. Croix; Brine’s Market, Stillwater; select grocers; and online orders at sarastipsypies.com.
Savory and sweet flavor options; 4-1/2-inch diameter hand pies and larger pies; heart-shaped pie pops; gluten-free pies; tipsy mini-pies and other special orders are available.