Even after 18 years running his Wimberley Pie Company, owner Neal Mallard hates to name his favorite pie, even though he usually has 25 varieties in his bakery case.
“I love all my children,” he insists. But when pressed, he caves. “Buttermilk is the one I never get tired of. It’s one of the most polarizing pies—you like it or you’re not crazy about it.”
If you want to weigh in on the buttermilk pie debate, drive to Wimberley and buy a slice—Neal makes extraordinary pie, by anyone’s standard. But therein lies a problem.
“I can sell more than I can possibly bake,” he says. “I’m the only baker here, and I can’t find anyone else to do the job. Not because of my secret recipes or anything, it’s just not the kind of job anyone does anymore.”
In the dessert world, when demand outstrips supply, cult status is right around the corner. Neal sees this as a puzzling, but not unwelcome, development. After all, before buying the pie shop, he wasn’t a baker. He wasn’t even a home cook.
“I did like to eat food, though,” he points out, “including pie.”
After having worked for “the two most evil companies—Halliburton and Wal-Mart,” Neal wanted to buy his own business, and the Wimberley Pie Company, a going concern, seemed to make economic sense. After the sale, a few bakers stayed behind to teach him the trade.
“I became competent,” he says modestly. “There are things about baking that seem to suit my personality. I like the exactitude. 5.06 pounds of eggs doesn’t intimidate me, it makes me comfortable. I can’t stand experimenting.”
Nevertheless, he’s done that over the years, refining recipes and introducing new pie contenders. Again, he tries not to make one sound more important than another.
But here’s an insider tip. If you like key lime, pecan, coconut or fudge pie, time your Wimberley shopping trip very carefully. Be there either when the store opens, or right before it closes, to take advantage of Neal’s baking schedule, or you may end up with cherry, apple, blackberry or some other unspeakably wonderful substitute.
You’ll have to work if you want this pie. But you won’t be sorry.
Wimberley Pie Co., Located ¼ mile east of the square
on Ranch Rd. 12 in Wimberley, 512-847-9462
Wed.–Thurs., noon–5:30 p.m.
Fri., 9:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
Sat., 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Sun., noon–4 p.m.
Closed Mon. and Tues.