Pies equal love for Linda Hundt.
She learned that lesson early on when the Easy-Bake oven she got for Christmas won her brothers’ affection. “It was the only time my brothers liked me,” she says of the goodies she started creating at age five with her favorite childhood toy.
Fulfilling a longtime dream, Hundt continues to spread the love — while striving to “change the world one pie at a time” — at Sweetie-Licious Bakery café, a pretty little pie shop she opened nine years ago in the mid-Michigan community of DeWitt, near Lansing.
With a red-and-white-striped awning out front and piles of pink boxes, vintage cookbooks and nostalgia-inducing decor inside, the cheery little bakery on the looking glass river is a detour-worthy stop or a destination in itself. It’s open daily except Sunday.
Clad in old-fashioned aprons and in full view of customers, the effervescent entrepreneur and her crew roll out dough and crimp perfect crusts for more than 40 different kinds of pies — some of them prize-winning. From Pink lemonade and Peach rhubarb to Browned Butter coconut chess, many are refined from treasured family recipes Hundt learned at the aprons of her mother, aunts and grandmother, who collectively stoked her lifelong passion for pie-baking. And each of the pies has a sweet story behind it, all detailed in script on her website.
On busy summer weeks, the bakery turns out as many as 400 pies, and customers scoop up about three times that many — 1,200 — in just 24 hours at Christmas time, Hundt says. Other made-from-scratch comfort foods and childhood favorites include plump muffins and cupcakes, chewy cookies and brownies, and tasty quiche, soups, salads and sandwiches.
“People love the throwback atmosphere — that sweet Pollyanna world i like to live in and share with others,” says Hundt, a self-described Donna Reed wannabe who wears retro dresses and, for special events, pearls. “this whole shop — eating pie and making pies — takes you back to a simpler, bygone time… People relate to that, they want more of that in their lives.”
Over the years, Hundt has won a devoted following and numerous accolades and has appeared on national television, including The Today Show. Among her 17 Crisco national Pie championships are the 100th anniversary innovation award in 2011 and Best of show 2009. Food and Wine magazine named her sticky toffee Pudding caramel apple Pie among the nation’s best pies, and she also won The Food Network’s “amazing Pie challenge.”
Intent on spreading her joy-of-pie gospel, Hundt recently opened two shops in Grand Rapids, one at the new Downtown Market, and signed an agreement that will make her pies available to a national audience through the Williams Sonoma website and catalog. Expect to see a dozen different mail order flavors starting this fall.
Hundt, a mother of two grown daughters who worked as a substitute teacher and former appointment scheduler for a Michigan governor, recalls being inspired by a shop, Pie in the Sky, that she and her husband visited while honeymooning on cape cod in 1985. But it took nearly 20 years before she could put her own dream into action.
Hundt started peddling fresh-baked pies to local farm markets and restaurants in 2002. She also sold them off the back porch of her century-old farmhouse, where customers would drop money in a bucket after helping themselves to her pie safe.
Finally, in 2005, Hundt opened her bakery-cafe in the downtown DeWitt building where she once went for haircuts. calling it “the cutest little pie shop in the whole world,” she filled it with sweet aromas, kitschy decor and the sounds of vintage crooners such as Frank Sinatra.
For Hundt, who has battled depression since her 20s, baking helps banish the blues. “Being at the shop, baking pies, it definitely helps me,” she says, pointing to a sign that proclaims, “Pie Fixes everything.”
When she’s not baking or demonstrating pie-making on a local TV lifestyle show, Hundt is busy touring Michigan libraries sharing both her personal and pie stories and promoting her new book: “Sweetielicious Pies: eat Pie, love life.” it was named one of 20 “Michigan Notable Books” for 2014.
For information, check sweetie-liscious.com or call (517) 669-9300.
This article originally appeared in the 2014 fall/winter issue of Experience Michigan magazine. The contents of this article were checked for accuracy when it was published; however, it’s possible some of the information has changed. We recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the destinations, attractions or restaurants mentioned in this article.
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