“The pies we tasted from Four & Twenty Blackbirds were so satisfying and deliriously delicious that they left every other pie we sampled in the dust.”
~ Danny Meyer, CEO, Union Square Hospitality Group ~
Two young sisters, pursuing different careers, one in finance, the other in photography and sculpture, decide to start a pie company…only this makes them my heroes.
Originally, Emily and Melissa, custom-baked pies from their apartment. Some customers, hosting multicourse dinner parties, would ask them to create a pie dessert that worked with a highly creative menu. They knew what they were doing, because the word spread, they built confidence and their customers grew. This led to a pie shop and then a book. A book I bought unmistakeably judging by its cover. It met all expectations.
The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book, is divided by seasons, because that’s what these girls do, they bake pies according to the season and the ingredients available. Don’t expect to find a peach pie in December, rather, you’d find an Egg ‘n’ Grogg Pie or a Junipear Pie, in Fall there’s a Sliced Sweet Potato & Apple Crumble Pie or a Black Walnut Pie. Everything you want to know about pies and how to make them is in this book. You'll read things like, angostura bitters, arrowroot, wild ginger, lavender honey, apple rose, rhuby razz. The recipes and the techniques are those used by their grandmother, perfected, updated with new combinations and flavors, adding a young contemporary verve to what is old-fashion and traditional.
The recipes are accurate and explained in detail, there’s advice and pictures that show you how-to-do-it. You just can’t go wrong. I’m in love with this book!
Because strawberries are in season, I made the Strawberry Balsamic Pie. I think I got really close to the original, but I’ll be able to tell you how close, the next time I go to the US, when I definitely will make a stop at the Four & Twenty for a sample try.
For now, I’ve settled on the book which I strongly recommend to all of you pie lovers.
STRAWBERRY BALSAMIC PIE from The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book
1/4 cup plus 3 tbps granulated sugar
2 pounds fresh strawberries, rinsed and quartered (5 to 6 cups)
1 small baking apple
2 tbps balsamic vinegar
2 dashes Angostura bitters
3 tbps ground arrowroot
2 grinds of pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Egg was (1 large egg whisked with 1 tsp water and a pinch of salt)
Demerara sugar, for finishing
Have ready and refrigerated on pastry-lined 9-inch pie pan and pastry round or lattice to top.
Sprinkle 3 tbps of the granulated suagr over the starwberries. Stir gently to combine and allow the fruit to macerate at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Peel the apple and shred on the large holes of a grater. Drain the starwberries of excess liquid and combine with the shredded apple. Sprinkle on the balsamic vinegar and agostura bitters.
In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, arrowroot, black pepper, and salt. Gently fold the suagr misture into the strawberry mixture. Pour the filling into the refrigerated pie shell, arrange the latice or pastry round on top, and crimp as desired.
Chill th epie in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes to set the pastry.
Meanwhile, position the oven racks at the bottom and center positions, place a rimmed baking sheet on the bottom rack, and preheat the oven to 425°F.
Brush the pastry with the egg wash; if your pie has lattice top, be careful not to drag the filling onto the pastry (it will burn). Sprinkle with the desired amount of demerara sugar.
Place the pie on the rimmed baking sheet on the lowest rack of the oven. Bake for 2' to 25 minutes, or until the pastry is set and beginning to brown. Lower the oven temperature to 375°C, move the pie to the center oven rack, and continue to bake until the pastry is a deep golden brown and the juices are bubbling throughout , 35 to 40 minutes longer.
Allow to cool completely on the wire rack, 2 to 3 hours. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
The pie will keep refrigerated for 3 days or at room temperature for 2 days.
Double - Crust Pie
2 1/2 flour all purpose
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup cold water
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 cup ice
Stir the flour, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the butter pieces and coat with the flour mixture using a bench scraper or spatula. With a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture, working quickly until mostly peas-size pieces of butter remain (a few larger pieces are okay; be careful not to over blend).
Combine the water, cider vinegar, and ice in a large measuring cup or small bowl. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of the ice water mixture over the flour mixture, and mix and cut it with a bench scraper or spatula until it is full incorporated. Add more of the ice water mixture, 1 to 2 tbsp at a time, using the bench scraper or your hands (or both) to mix until the dough comes together in a ball, with some dry bits remaining. Squeeze and pinch with your fingertips to bring all the dough together, sprinkling dry bits with more small drops of the ice water mixture, if necessary, to combine. Shape the sough into a flat disc, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight, to give the crust time to mellow. If making the double-crust version, divide the dough in half before shaping each portion into flat discs.
Wrapped tightly, the dough can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 1 month.