I became acquainted with Rachel Caygill’s (née Going) desserts after a three-month stint preparing for a standardized test. It was a hazy evening, and all I knew was that the test was over. The information was crammed, and the test taken in a sterile computer lab, and I was ready to celebrate with dinner at Bankers Hill Bar and Restaurant. The food was good, and the exhausted fog became denser with beer. At the end, the haze was broken by a bite of dessert. I focused sharply on the slice of pie in front of me, having chosen cherry despite being a connoisseur of neither baked cherries nor piecrust.
Some sixth sense had me ordering that pie, with cherries baked soft, but still toothsome and soaked in syrupy sauce. The crust was a revelation, very crisp and flaky, a sign that plenty of fat was used. Unlike piecrusts that merely serve to separate the filling from the plate, this crust, with its otherworldly texture, was delicious. Served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on a little pool of burnt, caramel-y butterscotch, it was a slice of springtime.
Long after I had the pie, I learned about its maker, and, last fall, I had the opportunity to watch her make one of her famous pies. Caygill focuses on seasonal ingredients, so when I met her, it was apple pie delicately seasoned with cardamom and orange zest.
She recently left Bankers Hill, and now, she says, she’s “doing a ton of very random stuff, like weddings and catering parties, and washing way more dishes than any one person should have to in their entire life.”
Her pies can be found at Specialty Produce as an add-on to its Farmers’ Market Bag. In keeping with the season, the current offering is a 6-inch strawberry rhubarb pie. Starlite (3175 India St.) features her croissants for brunch and pie on Sundays. Having tried the croissants, I wholeheartedly vouch for them as an integral part of a delicious brunch. Fans of her work needn’t count solely on restaurants, though, because she’ll work with customers for personal orders of pies, croissants and other baked goods through her new business, Bread and Butter Baking Co. (contact firstname.lastname@example.org).
At Carnitas Snack Shack (2632 University Ave.), she contributes ice-cream sandwiches and a variety of cookies to the dessert menu. The bacon-brittle ice-cream sandwich is perfect for fans of bacon with chocolate—smoky bacon, sweet brittle and icy-cold creaminess sandwiched between two pieces of brownie. Occasional offerings include open-topped hand pies filled with raspberries or strawberries. An all-too-infrequent visitor to Carnitas’ menu is a s’more-esque concoction involving homemade marshmallows, homemade graham crackers and caramel and chocolate for dipping. What? No bacon?
Caygill’s also interested in teaching and is starting to offer small pie-making classes. If you’re a fan of her desserts, not only are your purchasing options varied, but you can learn how to make them, too.