My preference for pies is right up there with peanut butter and pudding. I’ve made it clear that Manila needs more pies, so when a pie comes my way, it gets preferential treatment. Catherine’s Cakes & Pies promises plenty of crusted pleasures and though it has “Cakes” in its name, I don’t see a single cake on their product list. Great to take a break from cake once in a while.
Before I tell you about the pies, let me tell you about the baker. Chito Benito proudly wears the apron in this business that he named after his daughter, Catherine. It all started five years ago when he improved a walnut pie that his wife had made from an online recipe. His only baking experience prior to that was baking with his sister when they were kids. “I was challenged to make that walnut pie better,” he recalls. “We ended up with the perfected recipe a year later.” It takes Chito “…about 20- 50 trials to [perfect] an item, and you can just imagine tasting something you don’t like all those many times,” he chuckles.
Though it’s not my favorite from the sweets Chito offers, the Walnut Pie (P345, 6-inch / P595, 9-inch) cuts a commanding presence. When sliced and studied from the side, the walnuts are seen suspended in their syrupy state. I find the pie slightly over baked however. Baking it for less time will certainly highlight the not-too sweet filling, and the crust could also be improved. But oh, how that cheddar cheese topping pleases! What a clever touch.
As I’m clear about my predilection for pies, so too am I unequivocal about being a purist – in this case, a cheesecake purist. Nothing will ever be spooned or swirled onto the cheesecakes that I bake, but in a supreme effort to be open-minded, I’m likewise open to the cheesecake interpretations of others. Chito has a New York-style Blueberry Cheesecake (P445, 6-inch / P795, 9-inch). It suffices if blueberry topping is your thing topped up with shards of queso de bola.
The Chocolate Cheesecake (P545, 6-inch / P995, 9-inch) is what I like better, however. Poised on a too-thin chocolate cookie crust, it’s crisp, then cool and compact, so dense that I can press it to the roof of my mouth. Savored slowly, Belgian chocolate reveals itself in smoke and sugar. Then, a last-minute flash of flavor from the ganache; look: it’s shimmering sensuousness made linear. I’m told that there’s cherry brandy in the ganache (it’s indiscernible), and that pouring this tipple over a slice is highly recommended. I choose not to but you make your choice.
Dessert comes first but when I eat, I save the best (dessert) for last. That’s how I feel about the Apple Pie ((P345, 6-inch / P495, 7-inch / P695, 9-inch), the product of Chito’s search to “… find one that [I] truly liked.” For a pie lover like me – aka the Keeper of the Crust – an apple pie is basic and elemental, it’s not meant to be transporting. But this apple pie is and it’s the shining star in Chito’s product line-up. For one, it’s tall and dignified. A high pie, its crust, which is thankfully thicker this time around, is but a receptacle for apple slices, uniform and unique in their layering. Slightly spiced, lightly sweet, and laced with caramel, the crunch of fruit contrasts with the cobbled walnut crumble that is this pie’s crown.
Catherine’s Cakes & Pies
(02) 659 2591 / 0917 840 9598
Free delivery in the Alabang area
On Facebook: Catherines-Cakes-Pies