Archive for March, 2014

11th March
written by Arthur

Twenty Blackbirds Pie BookStarting last summer, I set a few fun personal goals with a couple close friends. Among my culinary goals for 2014 is baking 20 pies. Each fully from scratch.

The inspiration came from my mother’s Christmas present of  The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book. This book had made it onto my Amazon wish list through lunch time reading of some top cookbooks of 2013 list.  At the start of 2014 I had made exactly zero pie crusts from scratch and the idea of trying intrigued me. Once I paged through the book I was hooked. Drawn in by the mouth watering photographs, I knew I had to figure out how to take on this task.The number 20 seemed like a great balance between sufficient practice and achievability.

Since I received the book in the mail about five weeks ago, I’ve made it through four pies: a butter milk chess pie, a pear anise pie, a juniper pear pie, and a lemon chess pie. My first attempt on the buttermilk chess succeed in having a fully formed crust and filling in the shape of a pie. My problem with the maiden voyage was various errors in rolling out the crust (many surrounding too little flour) cause me to over work the dough which resulted in a hard not flaky crust. But with each attempt I’ve learned more (e.g. let the dough rest in the fridge–cold dough is much easier to work) and gotten better results.

Juniper Pear Pie

As a cookbook, The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book is a decent stand alone starting source for a pie newbie with 20+ illustrated pages dedicated to technique. The book advises against machine working the ingredients. I was fine avoiding the cost of finally biting the bullet of buying a food processor. Rather, a small investment in a simple hand held pasty blender did just fine. Other than that, I found no other special tools necessary. Just some simple ingredients and I was off baking. [I’m still rolling around the best way to represent the actual pie recipes here.]

And I’m still hooked. I’m able to achieve tasty results (lets face it, even with a mediocre pie crust like my first, a pie is still a pie) but I see room from improvement on each baking (let’s make it look more like the picture, form a more prefect lattice, keep the edge of the crust from browning too much, etc.). And, still paging through the book, I’m dreaming of spring at the farmer’s market and new fresh ingredients.



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