A life of pie: B.C. woman bakes works of art, hopes to create a new industry

‘I had no experience in a kitchen whatsoever,’ says Vancouver baker Jessica Clark-Bojin

Jessica Clark-Bojin remembers at one time having a reputation for her lack of cooking skills.

“I couldn’t crack an egg. I was shooed out at family gatherings,” says the Vancouver native, laughing. ”I had no experience in a kitchen whatsoever.”

Now Clark-Bojin is shaking up the baking world with her elaborate pie creations, which range from detailed celebrity portraits to towering three-dimensional “pie-scrapers.”

The former filmmaker’s journey from kitchen klutz to pastry pro started with a New Year’s resolution to cut down on sugar in 2016, when she began experimenting with pies to sate her dessert cravings. What began as a creative foray has become a full-time gig.

“It’s the most fun job that I’ve ever had in my life,” she said. “I never thought I’d be doing anything like this.”

Clark-Bojin’s multi-tiered masterpieces include Calvin and Hobbes riding a wagon down a hillside and an Aladdin-themed castle. The self-described science fiction nerd has also concocted a glow-in-the-dark Tron apple pie and Star Wars themed fruit turnovers shaped like Jabba the Hut.

Along the way, Clark-Bojin has tapped into her science background as a former university physics student to develop new methods and materials. Her innovations include colouring pastry dough, creating pigments that glow in the dark and baking three-dimensional shapes.

“This isn’t cooking. This is chemistry!”

The American talk show The Chew invited Clark-Bojin to New York to present a pie on the show in late 2016, which was followed by an invitation from the Food Network to start making videos for the cooking channel, she said.

Pies are especially challenging because pastry dough quickly becomes tough when overworked and its inconsistency means it often changes shape unpredictably in the oven, Clark-Bojin said.

She said one “aha moment” came while designing an alien face from the sci-fi franchise “Predator,” when Clark-Bojin came up with a method of blending different layers of pastry together, “like modeling clay,” using an egg mixture.

“That opened a whole new world,” she said.

Clark-Bojin said most of her baking gets done late at night after her five-year-old son, Cillian, is in bed. She described him as her harshest critic.

“He’ll look at something that I’ve been slaving over for days and I’m really proud of and he’ll be like, “Hmm. It’s not your best work, mommy,’ ” she said.

Clark-Bojin doesn’t sell her pies directly. She supports her work by offering how-to guides and dough stencils for sale.

Her next task is to simplify her techniques.

“My mission with all of this is not just to be a snooty pie artist,” she said, adding that the overall goal is to create a new industry.

“I want to teach other people and inspire other people to create cool things in this medium that they love with this food that they love.”

Geordon Omand, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

B.C. Green Party pushes for wild salmon commissioner

The role would serve as a unifying force in the provincial government

BC Ferries confirms Northern Sea Wolf will not sail until mid-July

BC Ferries had hoped to get the vessel in September of last year, but it didn’t arrive until December

UPDATED: Horgan says B.C. defending its interests in Trans Mountain pipeline

Canadian finance minister’s update comes the same day Kinder Morgan shareholders plan to meet

5 things to know about B.C. Floods 2018

Snowpacks continue to melt causing thousands to be displaced, dozens of local states of emergency

VIDEO: Canadian Forces help flood-ravaged Grand Forks residents heal

Sgt. Bradley Lowes says the military is used to dealing with traumatic times

Chilliwack Chiefs make history with first RBC Cup win

In front of a huge and noisy crowd, the Chiefs claimed their first-ever national junior A title.

UPDATED: Majority of flood evacuees in Kootenay-Boundary allowed to return home

Officials hope to have all 3,000 people back in their homes by Monday night

B.C. Lions bring back 6-time all-star offensive lineman Jovan Olafioye

He was acquired by the Montreal Alouettes last year.

Whitecaps rally for 2-2 draw with FC Dallas

Vancouver climbed out of a two-nil hole to tie FC Dallas 2-2

B.C. VIEWS: Making sense of climate policy

Flood and fire predictions have poor track record so far

Chilliwack Chiefs moving on to RBC Cup final after thrilling win over Ottawa

Kaden Pickering scored the winning goal in the 3rd period as Chilliwack won their semi-final 3-2.

VIDEO: As floodwaters recede, crews assess the damage to Grand Forks’ downtown

More than four dozen firefighters and building inspectors came out to help

Wellington Dukes pull off epic upset of Wenatchee at RBC Cup

The Dukes are off to the championship game after downing the Wild 2-1 Saturday at Prospera Centre.

Most Read