Sunday, February 28

Pie-maker credits success to mum’s recipe


Awang’s basic pie-making equipment.

PIES, believed to have been invented by the ancient Egyptians, have evolved over the centuries to become a household favourite pastry.

According to studies, the first pie was made with its crusts rather inedible as it was meant to be a shell or a container for its honey fillings.

The recipe was subsequently improved and reinvented by the Greeks who added pastry, followed by the Romans and the British in the 12th century.

Over the years, pastry chefs created further zest to the humble beginnings of pie-making and made the art what it is today where fillings may include apples, nuts, pumpkins and various meats such as chicken or beef.

For Awang Jamalludin Fadzillah, his late mother’s recipe and a few tips online over the past two years have made him a sought after home-based pie-maker.

Awang flashing the thumbs-up while baking pies in his home kitchen.

“Pies are neither that hard nor that easy to bake. It took me about a few months to find a correct mix of its ingredients,” Awang told thesundaypost.

The 41-year-old said baking pies is an art whereby most of the baking methods and core ingredients could be improved to enhance texture and taste.

According to him, pies are well accepted by the people in Kuching and he even has a customer who orders from him each week.

On his menu are two types of pie — regular-sized and mini.  For the former, customers have three different fillings to choose from — beef shiitake (minced meat), steaky beef cheese (chunky meat) and creamy mushroom chicken.

Regular-sized pies – one of two varieties Awang bakes.

The mini version comes in 16 pieces per box with two fillings options — beef shiitake or creamy chicken mushroom.

“One time, I even had to send an order to a customer in Kuala Lumpur. It had to be frozen and taken there personally by a friend who happened to be going there for work,” he recalled.

On his “secret” ingredients, Awang said most of the meat used could be found locally and none had to be ordered online. Also used are various spices easily found at the local grocers or market.

Recounting an experience last year, Awang said he needed to fulfill an order of more than 200 pies but had to limit it to 200 as he had to maintain the quality of the pies.

Although he usually bakes in the kitchen alone, his wife will come in and help.

Awang now delivers orders to customers although some will drive up to his front gate to collect.

On the difference his pies are offering customers, Awang said it was most probably the taste which is similar to that his father previously had in Australia.

“Or maybe it’s the same ingredients that my late mother used — or the fillings are different,” he reckoned.

On the best pie he had ever eaten, Awang said ‘number one’ goes to his late mother’s, followed by McDonald’s.

Mini pies ready packed for delivery.

On whether Covid-19 had affected his business, Awang said it did not have a major impact as most of his regular customers were still ordering from him.

“Before the pandemic broke last year, I was supplying food packs to hospitals but I have put this on hold to concentrate fully on baking pies. So in that sense, I have cut down my business.”

He revealed at the start of the pandemic, he was afraid it would affect his income but fortunately, he had a lot of orders from regular customers. He stood by the orders and continued baking.

At that time, news of tasty pies baked in his kitchen got out by word of mouth and orders increased twofold overnight.

“So, in a way, the pandemic has not affected my income that badly and I’m thankful.”

On his plans, Awang said he might expand his menu and concentrate on supplying various types of food to hospitals or business premises.

“In the future, I might consider either opening a restaurant and starting my pie restaurant chain. For that, I will still need to perfect the recipe. Only time will tell, God willing,” he said.

Some of the ingredients Awang uses for his pies.