When is Yarmulke not a Yarmulke?

What is a Yarmulke? Where did it come from? And what does it have to do with Door County?

The Yarmulke originated as an object of clothing worn by Jewish nomads on the Sinai desert nearly 5,000 years ago, but it has a new meaning in the 21st century here in Door County.

Yarmulke is the noun that identifies the small skullcap worn by most practicing Jews throughout the world. It originated many thousands of years ago by Orthodox Jews who roamed the Sinai desert. It is worn in Orthodox synagogues today and in Orthodox Jewish homes, as well as on the streets in Israel. According to the Torah, it originally was worn to signify awe and reverence before God and that the divine presence is always overhead. Orthodox branches of Judaism continue to wear Yarmulkes when attending religious services, although other branches of Judaism choose to or not.

Additionally, the Pope and other higher ups in the Catholic Church wear a similar looking skullcap, although not referred to as a Yarmulke, of course. It is referred to as a skullcap, a custom originated when the Priests stopped wearing capes, which included a hood, around 1300 AD. The priests substituted a skullcap to their official robes ostensibly to keep their heads warm in the unheated cathedrals.

All this information is in support of a curious incident I have been exposed to in my commercial career as a pie baker at Sweetie Pies, Fish Creek.

All Sweetie Pies’ pies are hand made. They are produced in over 20 distinct steps beginning with the combination of the ingredients for the top and bottom crusts, rolling the top and bottom crusts (by hand with a rolling pin), fitting the crust to the pie pan, filling of the pies with proportioned fresh fruit and spices, placing the top crust on the pie and then crimping the edges of the top and bottom crusts together. Additionally, the pies need to be brushed of excess flour, sprayed with milk and then liberally sprinkled with sugar. The finished pies are either baked (for sale within a day or two) or shrink-wrapped and placed in a below zero freezer for later sale or baking.

In the process of creating certain fresh fruit pies it is necessary to reinforce the top crust in order for the crust to retain its pie-shape without bursting during baking. The combination pies such as Berried Treasure (blackberries, blueberries and strawberries) Bruiseberries (blackberries and blueberries) as well as the blends of apple, cherry, peaches, cranberry, rhubarb, and raspberry of various permutations call for this special style of top-crust. Of the approximately 31 Sweetie Pie flavors created, only certain combinations call for this reinforcement.

Here is where the curious actions take place referred to above. While rolling out the top crust, it has become a necessity to include a round four or five inch piece of additional crust as reinforcement under the top crust. Everyone in the kitchen refers to it as a Yarmulke.

There was no pie maker in Sweetie Pies 12-year history who was Jewish (or a Catholic priest for that matter) to explain its naming origination. The current owners or their families (it is a family based organization) cannot recall when this added piece of crust was called anything but a Yarmulke.

I have heard many repeat customers sigh and indicate eating Sweetie Pies is akin to a religious experience. Now I understand why.