Fireman Derek Kaplan on Pumpkin Pie, Baking, and Opening a Retail Space
This Thanksgiving, why waste time baking a pumpkin pie when you can just buy one? We're not talking about a mass-produced puck from Publix. We're talking about the ultimate pumpkin pie from Fireman Derek's World-Famous Pies.
Photos courtesy of Derek Kaplan
Derek Kaplan -- a six-foot-two, tattooed City of Miami firefighter -- has been baking pies for 15 years. When he's not at the firehouse, Kaplan can be found baking anywhere from 50 to 100 pies per day from a kitchen in the back of a Wynwood warehouse.
See also: Where to Get Thanksgiving To-Go in Miami
So what exactly makes his pumpkin pie the best? He makes everything from scratch, including his pumpkin purée. That's right. This tough guy roasts and purées his own pumpkins. The result makes for a creamy, custard-like filling, cradled by a flaky, buttery crust.
In addition to pumpkin pie, Kaplan also offers other varieties this holiday season, including pecan, chocolate pecan, apple, key lime, sweet potato, and pumpkin cheesecake.
Sweet potato pie (left) and pecan pie (center)
Short Order spoke with the fireman about his pies, baking, and the possibility of opening a retail space.
Short Order: Your crusts are insane. What's your key to a perfect, flaky pie crust?
Derek Kaplan: You have to find the right balance of flour, shortening, butter, cold water -- you know what I'm saying? If you put too much flour, it makes it really gummy when you start mixing it up. Also, you want to have that nice consistency in your dough -- that really is the key. You want it to roll out really clean and not crumble apart.
What's your all-time favorite pie to bake and eat?
It's key lime pie, for sure.