Header photo: Tall Grass Prairie Bakery

Pie or cake? Cake or pie? Yes, we can all agree that Christmas fruitcake is one of the stranger elements of a holiday dinner, but in general, pie and cake are welcome additions to the spread. Prepare for your family gathering by choosing between these 5 totally Manitoban pies and cakes. Or...make them all!

1. Shmoo

As one of Manitoba's most iconic contributions to the cake scene, the shmoo's origins lie with Winnipeg's Jewish community, when a mother made the torte for her son's Bar Mitzvah. Since then, dozens of bakeries have adopted the combination of angel food cake, caramel sauce, pecans, whipped cream and caramel sauce. Before you commit to making the iconic cake at your holiday gathering, vet it ahead of time at Baked Expectations in Osborne Village

2. Tourtière 

While this savoury pie originates in Quebec, Manitoba's Francophone community has full embraced the pie tradition...with some slight adjustments. Christmas dinner just wouldn't be the same without tourtière, a mouth-watering concoction made with browned meat seasoned with nutmeg, cloves, dry mustard and cinnamon. Head to any french restaurant in St. Boniface, Winnipeg or in one of Manitoba's Francophone towns and you'll be sure to see tourtière on the menu.

3. Flapper pie

Flapper Pie

Photo credit: The Kitchen Magpie 

It's a little unclear if the Flapper Pie (also known as Wafer Pie) has its origins in Manitoba or Saskatchewan, so it seems safer to just refer to this masterpiece as a prairie pie. The pie is a popular choice at fall suppers and Salisbury House, consisting of a graham cracker crust with a creamy custard filling, topped by meringue and graham cracker crumbs.

4. Saskatoon pie 

As its name might suggest, Saskatoon pie can be found all across the prairies, including Saskatchewan. But there's no doubt that Saskatoon berries are abundant in Manitoba (especially southern Manitoba) and have therefore made it into an astounding number of desserts and baked goods. Find Saskatoon pie at any bakery or grocery store in Manitoba, or make your own using this fantastic and simple recipe.

5. Vínarterta

If you can’t make it to Iceland for a taste of Icelandic culture, then Gimli and Hecla are your next best stops for a sampling. Icelanders made their way to Manitoba in the late 1800s, settling in the Interlake region, bringing with them a number of traditions including Vínarterta, a multilayered cake made up of prunes, spice blends and icing. While the exact recipe is quite a contentious topic among the Icelandic community, you can try one version of it at the annual Islendingadagurinn or at bakeries throughout the province like Tall Grass Prairie Bakery.

6. Wild arctic cranberry cake

Wild Arctic Cranberry Cake

If you’re lucky enough to join a walking polar bear safari with Churchill Wild, then you will be left with something else to remember your trip. Yes, you'll have myriads of amazing wildlife experiences and a camera full of images - but it's the food that will stick with you forever. Helen Webber has been cooking and developing recipes for the family’s lodges for more than 30 years. The books bear titles like Blueberries & Polar Bears, Icebergs & Belugas and Cranberries & Canada Geese, a clear nod to the landscape and wildlife that inspired the creations inside. Experience a slice of Churchill Wild right at home with their popular wild arctic cranberry cake.