The core of a Shelton apple pie (video)
Not many things are considered to be more “American” than apple pie.” The flaky, sugary crust entices the sweet tooth of the nation and has claimed a spot in our country’s heart. With apple season being at its peak, the Herald got a behind the scenes look at one baker who orchestrates the creation of some of Shelton’s favorite pies.
Ron Hall is the head baker of Oronoque Farms Bakery & Boutique, located on Route 110 in White Hills. Not only are his pies award-winning, they have an equally delicious backstory.
Hall was born into a world of baking. His father, Hughie Hall, was the original head baker and manager at Oronoque Orchards in Stratford and his mother, Bernice Hall, worked as a baking sous chef: baking pies, prepping ingredients, and laying out the finished projects in elegant displays.
His parents spent hours at the bakery and at home, they would teach Ron how to bake.
Ron reflected on his childhood and recalled early phases of learning how to bake a pie.
“I learned a lot from my dad. I would watch him all the time,” said Ron. “I would pay attention as I was a kid. I experiment at home.”
He said he’s never had an experiment backfire, showing that baking genes had been passed down to him from his parents. While thinking about his father, he shared that when he makes one of his favorite pies, lemon meringue, he always thinks back to his early days of baking with his dad.
At age 14, Ron joined his parent at Oronoque as assistant baker to his father. He dedicated hours after school and on weekends to work in the kitchen in order to develop his baking skills. He loved every second of working there and couldn’t imagine doing anything else as a career.
He said can’t even imagine what he would do today if he were not a baker.
“I would want to do my own thing. You got to really love the job. [Baking,] it’s a passion for me,” said Ron.
In 1985, Oronoque Orchards was destroyed by a fire. The Oronoque and Hall family was devastated over the loss of the bakery and worried that people would forget about their pies. In the years following, the Oronoque family raised money to re-open their bakery, and in 1993, relocated to Shelton and appointed Ron as head baker. Ron was thrilled that he could continue his passion and continues to enjoy the special connection with the customers.
“I love all the customers. You got customers that have [a] nice personality. I’m happy,” said Ron.
While every day is full of new people coming in to buy pies, November is the busiest.
The day before Thanksgiving is the best-selling day of the year. Ron and his five assistant bakers work non-stop to keep up with the popular demand for pies, especially the top sellers, apple and apple crumb. On that Wednesday, the ovens are full with 17 pies per shelf and can
Produce up to 68 pies per hour. That’s a total of 612 pies for a nine-hour work day.
“The lines outside the door, around the corner. We have crowds of people, line outside, buying all kinds of stuff, pies, cookies, gifts, and a police car controlling the traffic” said Ron. “That’s a great day to be working. You see all the cars roll in. You see people coming to shop...and all employees are having fun that day.”
Most people do not realize the love and hard work that goes into every single pie that Ron makes. Each day, Ron comes in at 7 a.m. to start baking the crusts, fillings, dough and more from scratch.
Take a look at how some of the farm's pies are made