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

Incumbents and acclaimed mayors win elections all across B.C.’s north

Fraser Lake saw their first female mayor elected

Mayoral results from across B.C.

Voters in 162 municipalities in B.C. set to elect mayor, council, school board and more

Every vote counts: 10 tightest races in B.C.’s municipal elections

Peachland saw their election decided by just one vote

Ocean “Blob” returns to North Coast of B.C.

A 2,000 kilometre patch of warm ocean water could signal a warm winter in Prince Rupert

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

B.C. sailor surprised by humpback whale playing under her boat

Jodi Klahm-Kozicki said the experience was ‘magical’ near Denman Island

Ovechkin has 4 points as Caps rough up Canucks 5-2

WATCH: Defending champs pick up impressive win in Vancouver

B.C. government moves to tighten resource industry regulations

New superintendent will oversee engineers, biologists, foresters

Election watchdog seeks digitally savvy specialists to zero in on threats

Move follows troublesome evidence of online Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election

More court before Dutch man charged in Amanda Todd case is extradited here

Appeals must be dealt with in Europe, before charges faced in B.C.

Crown says man guilty of B.C. girl’s 1978 murder based on alleged confession

Jury hears details of girl’s 1978 murder while Crown says man should be convicted of girl’s murder based on alleged confession.

BCHL alumni has NHL jersey retired by Anaheim Ducks

Paul Kariya played with the Penticton Vees from 1990-1992

Most Read