Baking queen Margarita Manzke shares her cream pie trade secrets

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Margarita Manzke's coconut buko pies are available year-around at Sari Sari Store in the Grand Central Market. Photo courtesy of Margarita Manzke.

James Beard Award-winning pastry chef Margarita Manzke knows pie. She and her husband, Walter Manzke, co-own République, Bicyclette, Manzke, and Sari Sari Store, where her coconut buko pie sits alongside her ube cheesecake and turon.

This year, Manzke will be one of the judges for KCRW's Good Food PieFest & Contest. She explains that pies at Républiue are seasonal. Currently on the menu: Her passion fruit strawberry pie. Manzke uses a pate brisee for the bottom, resulting in a light, flaky crust which she prefers to a dense crust. Blind baking is the key to avoiding soggy bottoms.

She says the combination of tart and sweet cuts through heaviness and she always includes fresh fruit because the acidity slices through the richness of the cream, butter, and sugar. Curds typically go at the bottom of the pie, topped with fresh fruit, covered with cream, and then decorated with more fruit. Manzke stabilizes her cream with a bit of carrageenan, a secret of JR Ryall at Ballymaloe. Avoid overwhipping and let it set overnight to achieve a silky, smooth texture.

Manzke's cookbook is "Baking at République."