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More pie, please!

Posted: Wednesday, Dec 29th, 2010

Barbara Behrend (left) and Kay Dalsted, both of Brookings, browse a table filled with goodies offered by Pies Plus owner Jan Mobley (right). Mobley’s “executive assistant” Allan Hanson prepares to bag the goods. Mobley bases her baked-goods business on traditional family recipes.

• "Pie Lady" continues heritage of baking from scratch

As Don Behrend was dying of cancer in 2006, few things could comfort him.

But one of them was coconut cream pie from the “Pie Lady.”

The Pie Lady, as she’s known throughout the area, is Jan Mobley from Lake Preston. Mobley owns a specialty baking business called Pies Plus. Her goods are so tasty, Don’s mom, Barbara, made two 64-mile round-trip treks to get pies for her son because, “As a mother, you do anything for your child.”

One of the times she was headed to Lake Preston to get a pie, a friend was visiting from out of town. When she told him where they were going, he said to her, “But you can get pies right here at Perkins.” To that she responded, “It’s just not the same.”

Perkins pies may be outstanding, but only the Pie Lady can make a coconut cream exactly the way her son liked them. Hers qualify as genuine “comfort food.”

Mobley started Pies Plus in 1996 as she was transitioning from her job as the activities director for the nursing home in Lake Preston.

“I began to contemplate a career change and prayed about it when I was getting started,” she says. “I believe that God provides for us, and as the business started to develop, he was telling me this is what he wanted me to do.”

Providing her customers with baked goods reminiscent of years gone by was another reason she started the business.

“I was inspired by a tradition of family and friends sharing wonderful recipes,” she says.

When she was a child, Mobley enjoyed the challenge of learning to bake, and it gave her pleasure to share her made-from-scratch creations with others.

As she became a mother and full-time homemaker, she says, “it was simply fun to create special times for my children – birthday parties, school treats, holiday meals, and the aroma of fresh-baked bread for an after-school snack.”

She continues to bake from her family’s treasured recipes, but she’ll make your favorites on request, too – even from your own secret family formula.

Expanding product line

Although she started her business 14 years ago by making only pies, Mobley has since expanded her sweet-treats menu to include 16 flavors of giant muffins, cheesecakes, cream puffs, cake doughnuts, cookies, cakes and dinner and sweet rolls, just to name a few.

In addition to her traditional pies, she also makes six kinds of specialty fruit pies, 10 kinds of gourmet pies and seven different cream pies, all of which are topped with old-fashioned whipped cream.

So why do some shoppers favor Mobley’s masterpieces over store-bought baked goods? The answer might lie in her secret ingredients, which aren’t really a secret at all: Mobley’s nine flavors of “traditional” fruit pies are made with only fresh or frozen fruit. The Pie Lady says she prefers to use fresh fruit simply because “it’s the best.” “Everything is made from scratch from the best ingredients because I bake for my customers like I would bake for myself. People appreciate that,” says Mobley.

Over the years, her business has changed with the times. If you’d rather have her mouth-watering goodies hot out of your own oven, she now has frozen goods with instructions included.

“Adding a frozen line of products is keeping me busy 40 hours a week year-round now,” she says.

Last minute holiday treats

With holiday parties and get-togethers this time of year, Mobley suggests that a pie or dessert buffet might be perfect for your gathering. She offers a dessert catering service for businesses and private brunches. For those looking for a unique gift for a special celebration, she has gift certificates available, too.

Fortunately for her followers who don’t want to make the trek to Lake Preston to pick up pastries, they can check the Pies Plus freezer at Lewis Drug; she regularly makes frozen product deliveries to keep it well stocked.

Pie lovers can also stop by her table at the store when she makes her monthly trip to Brookings on the second Friday of every month. She notes she’s frequently in Brookings and can stop by your home with a pie, too.

Sweets from a sweet lady

Behrend says once you buy goods from the Pie Lady, you’ll be hooked, but not just because “her crusts are just right and taste just like they should.”

Behrend says Mobley’s sincerity is like a cherry on the top.

“I’ve bought many things from her because I like her. She’s just a very personable person,” she says. “She’s just so sincere, and she’s always treated me with respect.”

Mobley says throughout the years there is one thing she’s enjoyed making the most: a lot of new friends.

“This business has really given me an opportunity to connect with people,” she says. “Seeing some of the same friendly smiles every time I’m here in Brookings makes it all worth it.”

For more information, including pricing, check out the Pie Lady’s website at www.piesplusonline.com. Mobley says customers can also call with special requests and questions because she can make many more pies, muffins and cookies than are listed on her website.

Contact Vicki Schuster at vschuster@brookingsregister.com.

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