Homemade Pies with Fresh Ingredients from Wolffs Apple House

Step into a time when heirloom apples were peeled by hand.  Colorful peels swirl onto the counter-top, laughter and conversation rise like flecks of flour in the air, and tender apples get tucked into handmade pastry made with real butter.

This might sound like a snippet from another generation, yet it describes the way Marie Connell of MyHouse Cookies in West Philadelphia makes apple pies, which she bakes with heirloom apples from Wolff’s Apple House.  “There’s an authenticity in what we do,” says Connell, whose small family-owned business has been supplying Wolff’s with cookies and pastries for seven years.

Connell keeps her process and ingredients real, wholesome and basic.  At Tante Marie’s Cooking School in San Fransisco, she learned that “nothing is new, but you have to make it your own.”  Chocolate chip cookies have been around for over eighty years, but you’ve never tasted one like Connell’s.  She keeps things simple, declining to use fancy sugar or European butter, but she finds ways of enhancing the basic recipes that form her starting point.  She doubles the vanilla in her chocolate chip cookies and works in small batches to maintain quality control over her process, replicating the traditional methods home cooks have long been using to make delicious pastries from scratch.

From the start, authenticity was the key ingredient to MyHouse Cookies’ success.  Even the way the business plan started shows this.  The business began with simple, genuine encouragement.  Around 2004, Marie Connell’s husband, Tom, said her cookies were so good she should start selling them.

The timing of this encouragement was just right.  By that time, their kids were already grown up, and now, rather than a business that takes away from family resources, the business allows the Connells, who just celebrated their 33rd wedding anniversary, to spend time together.

When Tom encouraged Marie to start selling her cookies, she began things quite simply, keeping her expectations realistic.  She didn’t go out and buy a full bakery.  She rented the first kitchen space she used and worked directly with a caterer.  She built her small business from scratch, just one customer at a time.  As the business expanded, she bought every piece of equipment second-hand.

Though the start was basic, Marie was confident the business would expand.   Since she had a great product, the business didn’t seem like a big risk.  And, peeking at MyHouse Cookies’ client list, which includes not just Wolff’s Apple House but seventeen other well-known local and national stores, it looks like she was exactly right.  “I knew that what I had was good,” she says.

With MyHouse Cookies, stepping back to a more authentic time is just as simple as taking a bite of a chocolate chip cookie or handcrafted heirloom apple pie.