'Texas Pie Queen' Helps Folks Fall in Love — Including Her Husband! — with Sweet Recipes: 'It's Like Prayer'
Courtesy Julie Albertson and Spencer Schwarz
The first time Julie Albertson saw blues musician Spencer Schwarz onstage in 1985, she knew she was going to marry him.
"He got up on a bar railing and jumped off the rail and slid across the floor at my feet, singing to me," Julie, now 60, tells PEOPLE for the Valentine's Day special in this week's issue. "I told my brother, 'That's going to be my husband.'"
When Julie went home she baked Spencer a buttermilk pie with a hint of nutmeg.
As she rolled out the dough, she put all her hopes for their future life together into the pie. "I made it specific for him," she says.
She dropped the pie off backstage before a concert. "There were throngs of people waiting to meet him," she says. "When he saw what the pie was, he chased me down in the parking lot and introduced himself."
Spencer, now 67, says they've been together ever since he tasted that pie: "Best thing I'd ever eaten."
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He proposed after Labor Day 1992. She immediately said yes.
"As far as I was concerned, we were already married, and my life was going to be spent with him no matter what," she says. "I had planned on us being together forever."
And on Oct. 17, 1992, they tied the knot at Headliners Club on Austin's 6th Street.
Courtesy Julie Albertson and husband Spencer Schwarz
Julie's grandmother, Nella Bernice Burrows, taught Julie the art of making pies when she was a 7-year-old girl growing up in Splendora, Texas. She remembers standing on metal coffee cans to reach the countertop and learning recipes from her grandmother and great-grandmother's vintage cookbooks.
Now Julie, known as the Texas Pie Queen, uses those recipes at The Texas Pie Company in Kyle. But one item you won't find on the menu are her custom love pies, like the one she made for her husband. Those she bakes for friends and family.
"It's like prayer," she says, describing her process. "It's intentional. As you roll the dough, you talk about who you want to meet, your future together. It's imbuing emotion into what you're making."
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Monique Buitron met her husband just weeks after Julie helped him bake a pie to find his true love. Julie and Spencer were in their wedding — Julie catered it too!
"Julie's got the magic," says Buitron, 57.
And when Shana Redd met a man she believed was her soul mate, Julie helped her bake a custom "Derby Pie" – a pecan pie with chocolate chips. "He absolutely loved it," Redd, who served the pie at her wedding, tells PEOPLE. "That was my in."
"It's just crazy how it works," she adds.
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Julie's niece, Haylie Raymond, wondered if she would ever find the perfect man for her. So she and her aunt baked a pie, stirring in all the love she hoped to find.
Haylie remembers her aunt telling her to be really specific about what she wanted.
"I said, "I want somebody who likes slow mornings, and who likes to have the windows open," she says. She wanted an Italian man with dark hair and green eyes that matched hers who loves animals, motorcycles and could work on her old Ford.
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They baked a cherry pie, because she also wanted passion. "I wanted somebody that really loved me," Haylie says. "I wanted that I-just-can't-get-enough-of-you-love."
And they added extra sugar, but stirred in salt to balance it out.
They baked the pie in the summer of 2015. She met Zack Snider, now 36, in September 2015 working together at a friend's food truck.
"We locked eyes," Haylie says. "My whole body just exploded."
He was every single thing she asked for when she baked the pie.
Courtesy Haylie Raymond and Zack Snider
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He said, "I've been dreaming about you for my whole life," Haylie says. "We've been together ever since."
When she introduced him to her aunt, "She said, 'It's him! That's the pie!" recalls Haylie.
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The couple now own a motorcycle repair shop, Wolf Cycle in Austin, he's rebuilt her Ford, and they've adopted four cats and a pit bull.
"Zack has been a dream come true," Haylie says. "Our love story is so sweet."
Following her family tradition, as her aunt's apprentice, Haylie bakes pies for friends to help them manifest their dreams. "People come back and say, 'You won't believe what happened." And I say, 'But I do.'"