Obsessed: Alan Carter, Pastry Chef at Mission Beach Cafe on Pie Crusts


I guess it’s fair to say that I’m obsessive about the ways pies should be done because I’ve been disappointed a lot. You go into a place, and you see pie, and you think, oh yes! Then you notice that the crust is so pale, and you think, I was going to thank you, and now I want to slap you!

I make my piecrust with butter. No lard, no shortening. I add equal amounts of sugar and salt, some vinegar for tenderness, and a tiny bit of baking powder. When your dough looks ugly, that’s when it’s best. When it’s smooth and beautiful before you roll it out, you might as well throw it away because it’s overworked and will be tough. It should look like a well-marbled steak with bits of butter throughout.

I cook my pies until the crust is what I call “the money color”—past golden brown but only by a fraction. You see a crust that color, and you just want a slice. That’s money. Last year, I sold about a hundred Thanksgiving pies, and this year I’m probably going to make double that. I make them with skill and with love. I think you should celebrate life with dessert every day.”

Mission Beach Cafe
198 Guerrero St., 415-861-0198

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