Mission Pie: The New San Francisco Treat
25th at Mission
If you’re not paying attention, you may walk past the doorway that leads to Mission Pie, a bakery that’s been making a name for itself lately for its organic pies with a purpose. Look for the fold-out sign on the sidewalk that proclaims the store name, and the “Open” neon sign in the non-descript side window. (They’re no longer located at the 2901 Mission St. location which other places like Yelp seem to advertise. Actually, I can’t confirm that because I just know of this location on 25th St.)
What’s their deal? The pies they make are from ingredients they’ve grown (mostly, and soon to be, entirely) themselves out on a farm on the San Mateo coast, called aptly, Pie Ranch. They also work with urban youths (yoots) to educate them on the ecosystem of sustainable farming…pie seems like a rather fun way to explain how ingredients from the ground can turn into something yummy.
I’ve heard that they don’t actually make the pies at this Mission St. location – and a quick visit this holiday weekend didn’t lead to confirmation of that. (I was too busy salivating over the pie options.). Rumor has it that ingredients are sent to a bakery in Glen Park (that they also maintain), and then pies are brought here…maybe to bake, possibly already made. Again, I failed in my detective work this time so if anybody cares to update us, please do so in the comments.
For $3.50 per slice, and $14.00 for a whole pie made of fresh ingredients, this is a pretty grub deal. As a sacrifice in order to inform my dear readers, I ordered four flavors to investigate:
* Pear Raspberry
* Cranberry Custard* (*not the real name but I can’t remember what fancy word they used to describe the custard)
Before we begin, let me set expectations. These pies are “normal” in their thickness, not super thick with oozings of filling that we’ve come to expect from certain restaurants or pre-packaged brands. You should not be disappointed by this. Oozings (especially in packaged pies) are usually made of non-natural ingredients to preserve the goopiness and thickness, and to prevent separating of the liquids. Cooking thick oozings thoroughly also makes for risky crust baking, since the crust usually takes less time to cook than the innards. And finally, if you’ve managed to cook everything just right, if you don’t eat the whole thing immediately, you risk making the bottom of the crust soggy, as it continues to absorb the goopy innards. Got it? Thick isn’t always a good thing.
Consequently this also means you will not be stuffed like a little piggy (which I usually love) after eating one slice. Unless of course you’re already stuffed from the main parts of a holiday meal.
What you give up in portion size you make up for in dang good pie crust (flaky, buttery, done just right), and fresh tasting ingredients that seem perfectly balanced in its tartness or sweetness. Here are my comments on each flavor I tried:
Delicious. And I’m not really a walnut fan. This is not just a pecan pie substituted with walnuts. They’ve done something with the filling. Usually a pecan pie filling is made of mostly corn syrup, butter, eggs, and vanilla. Maybe they are using something a bit more natural than corn syrup, but whatever it is, it makes the filling fabulous. It’s not too sweet, with a slight taste of vanilla. It has a mild custard-like flavor…think of those Chinese egg custard desserts prevalent in dim sum restaurants. And the walnuts are not overpowering – because I’m not really a walnut fan, did I mention?
I usually try to stay away from either of these fruits in pies because I’m not a tart fan, either. Just thinking of tartness makes my jaw muscles clench. But for you, my fans, I decided to give it a try. No disappointment here. I’m a convert. Again, the fresh pear and raspberries were able to exhibit their natural flavors without the tartness that usually makes me cringe. Again, it wasn’t overly sweet. Again, the crust was perfect.
An odd combination but what the heck. The filling was yellow, just like those dim sum egg custards, but with red cranberries floating around. I had never had something like this before. A bit of an odd taste for me. The cranberries were subtly tart – if there were more, it’d overpower the taste of the custard. But somehow, I felt like there weren’t enough cranberries in there. Maybe that’s due to the associations I have of the custard with dim sum and super grubbing. Though not a complete miss with me, the flavor combination did not excite me, and I won’t be ordering that one again. (Of course, the crust was tasty still.)
An old standby. My mom used to make apple pies from scratch (using good ol’ lard in the crust, yummmm). So I had a few expectations of taste here. Fortunately, the apples were not tart, nor were they too sweet. The crust was delicious as usual. This tasted like what it was – an all-natural healthy apple pie. I would have preferred a bit more cinnamon in it, but admittedly, that could be a more commercialized taste that I’ve come to fancy over the years.
I’ll definitely be going back. Another bonus – these folks are open early on weekends. 8 am. That’s a good thing when you’re antisocial and want to avoid crowds and get some deliciousness to take home.