IN GREAT BRITAIN, savory pies are a staple, piled high with stick-to-the-ribs fillings encased in pastry. In metro Detroit, an authentic place to try them is Ackroyd’s Scottish Bakery.
Megan Ackroyd followed her father and grandfather into the business. Her grandfather Al and his brother Silas, Scottish immigrants via Canada, opened a butcher shop in 1949 at Six Mile and Schaefer.
“Back then their customers were Scottish people. There used to be four or five Scottish bakeries,” Megan says. Her grandfather decided that rather than sell his meats to bakeries to make pies, he would learn how to make his own pastry. The machine he used to stamp out the shells, one at a time, is still in the building today.
It didn’t take long for the sweet side of the business to begin. A master baker from Scotland visiting his brother, who worked for Ackroyd’s, brought the recipes and techniques. Today, inside a tiny shop on Five Mile Road in Redford Township, sweet and savory happily coexist, along with a selection of imported British products such as tea, marmalade and even haggis-flavored potato chips. Everything behind the counter—every piecrust, cookie and sausage—is made from scratch on site.
“These pies are the cornerstone of the uniqueness,” says Joe Hakim, Ackroyd’s sales and marketing director. Megan’s father, Allan, runs the production side of the business; Megan oversees the finances; Joe runs the front of the house.
We have a very passionate, engaged customer base,” Joe says. “About every other customer that comes in wants to talk to you about their memories of coming into the bakery,” Megan adds.
Ackroyd’s sources locally, purchasing meats at Kap’s in Eastern Market, flour from King Milling in Lowell and bakery products from Dawn Food Products in Jackson. Even workers’ aprons and shirts are sourced locally, “even if it means a little bit more money,” Megan says.
Growth has come through a thriving mail-order business, with frozen food shipped all over the U.S. in insulated bubble wrap. Space is tight; Ackroyd’s is hoping to expand into a vacant space next door, which would allow them to offer classes and tastings. Michigan’s rough-and-tumble economy has apparently not been a problem. “A bad economy is not a bad problem for us,” Megan says. “Going out to eat is a lot more costly than coming to us.”
Although meat pies and sausage rolls drive the business, the menu also includes chicken pot pie and macaroni-and-cheese pies. The pies are encased in tender puff pastry. Breads include Irish soda bread and scones; meats include haggis, back bacon and beef or pork sausages. The buttery shortbread is not to be missed.
Now the parents of a toddler who made his first trip to Scotland at the age of 5 months, “We’re trying to make this thing go on forever,” Hakim says. The baby is definitely an inspiration, Megan agrees.