She offers me her sweet pies but I end up liking her savory pies more.
Home baker Gail Ang has an ingenious pie concept. She makes little pies from her homemade pastry crust, filling them with all sorts of imaginative things. Her bestseller is something she calls her Nata Lychee Dream, where bits of nata de coco and lychee suspended in a jelly perch on a patch of cream cheese, all encapsulated in a puff pastry crust.
I don’t much care for it. “Perhaps the sweet-salty combination doesn’t appeal to you?” Gail replies. I tell her that I’m very much a fan of sweet and salty, but neither do I care for the Lemon Meringue Cloud, which is like a lemon meringue pie possessing a sparse filling and too much meringue.
What I do like – and very much at that – are Gail’s savory pies, little pies yet again, that are receptacles for some classic and exceptionally done fillings. Her Chicken Dijon Baby! (exclamation hers) proclaims it as the “…sauciest pie in the city!” and that it is. One bite threatens a mini wave of white sauce and chunks of chicken to come tumbling out, a real possibility if I’m eating this pie out of hand. Somehow eating these babies at table with proper utensils at teatime doesn’t seem far-fetched.
Then there’s my favorite, a mini quiche of Spinach, Feta, and Sundried Tomatoes. Gail makes these in such a way that she sidesteps the problem inherent in most quiches: petrified (read: overbaked) custard and stringy spinach. Here, there’s enough custard to bind the ingredients together melding them as a flavorful whole.
And of course, that crust. Oh, that crust. Gail says she started her pie business because: “I simply couldn’t find a pie whose crust I enjoyed. So I decided to take on the challenge of making pies that I’d love to eat, crust and all!” Her crust is handmade, and then let to rest for at least 12 hours before being hand-rolled. This down-time in the chiller allows the dough to retain its elasticity, boosting tenderness. As an added plus, the crust is also free of trans fats, for those who care about that sort of thing. It all makes for a crust that shatters on impact with teeth, a foil for the pleasingly salty-creamy fillings, leaving nothing but a trail of crumbs on mouth and bulging middle.