Ripe, juicy blackberries and plump, local blueberries sweeten up this classic summer pie. Each slice is overflowing with berries surrounded by an all-butter, flakey crust.
When I tell you how excited about my newfound love for pie is, I am not joking. After the success of my lattice adventure and first all-butter crust experience, I quickly went out and bought the Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been pretty enamoured by the Elsen sisters and their pie journey. I know I am like 3 years late to the party, but I’ve gone as far as to question my entire being and wondering why I don’t have a sister to start a pie shop with, toyed with the idea of opening my own (then quickly remembered what it was like to run a cake shop), but most accurately, I have drooled over each and every one of their recipes.
The photos in the book are absolutely gorgeous – not too trendy or overly styled - and the anecdotes make you feel like you are hanging out in their Brooklyn kitchen. In fact, the next time I make it back to NYC, you bet it will be on the top of my list of places to eat. No, Four and Twenty Blackbirds is not super new or anything, but I have fallen behind on all the hip, new places to dine in New York. In my ripe old age of 32, I’ve completely fallen out of touch. Even here in Vancouver, I can’t hardly keep up with the ever-changing food scene – not that could wait for a table with a toddler even if I knew where to go.
Back in the day, my mom and I spent each of my college spring breaks in NYC bakery hopping and seeing the most current Broadway show. I’m talking about a time where people were still discovering that the a line-up in the West Village led to delicious Magnolia’s Bakery cupcakes and the hottest ticket in town was for the original cast of “Wicked.” I would have already scouted out the newest bakery or cake shop to check out and booked tickets to the latest shows before the winter quarter was over. And as soon as I was done with finals, we would take the red-eye Jet Blue flight to NYC. We would spend our mornings shopping or brunching at Sarabeth’s before sliding into our orchestra seats to see the amazing dancers of “Movin’ Out” or snag a last-minute ticket to “Rent,” because “Rent” live was always a good idea. We would tour the art galleries uptown, then head back to Canal Street to barter over handbags. Always a city girl at heart, I felt hip, cool, and totally "alive" (although using those words probably means that I wasn’t, lol).
To say I was lucky is a total understatement. I was always grateful for our trips, but looking back now, I bet I didn’t know just how good I had it. Of course the time spent together bonding was priceless, and for my mom, it meant her daughter wasn’t off partying somewhere else during spring break, but those years were truly unforgettable.
I wouldn’t say I took those trips to NYC for granted, but sometimes I wish I could go back to experience each moment to its fullest. I won’t be hopping on any red-eyes any time soon, yet I yearn for just a few days to eat my way around the city. I know I sound ridiculous, but I’ve totally missed out on the rise of pastry phenomena like Momofuko Milk Bar, Dominique Ansel, and Four and Twenty and as a dessert blogger I feel that it is my duty to go, lol. Even before Everett was born, I wish we had made it for one last girls trip...
Lucky for people like me or anyone else that is in a point in their lives where they are a bit more anchored down with their families, careers, etc, there are fabulous cookbooks that make you feel like you are part of the experience. I bet a pie made by the hands of the Elsen girls themselves tastes 10X better; at least I can still try my hand at one of their recipes in my own home across the continent. Now if only we could get a version of "Hamilton" broadcast to all of use that can’t hop over to NYC in the near future, then I’d be a little more content “stuck” on the west coast, hehe.
Black and Blueberry Pie
adapted from Hummingbird High
2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup + 2 tablespoons very cold butter, diced
½ cup cold water
¼ cup ice
1 tablespoon apple cider or white vinegar
turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
1. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and sugar. Place the ice in the water and set aside.
2. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter or by hand, rubbing the pieces of butter between your thumb, index, and middle fingers. Once the pieces are no longer lager than about a peanut, begin to flatten the pieces of butter in sheets between your palms. Be careful not to over-work the butter or let it get too warm.
3. Working with only a couple tablespoons at a time, add in about 6 to 8 tablespoons of the water along with the vinegar. Stir together using a wooden spoon or even just a clean hand in the bowl. The dough should appear fairly shaggy and not sticky. Once you can squeeze a few pieces together and they hold, the dough is done being mixed. Do not over-mix.
4. Divide the dough into half and shape each piece into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours, or overnight (preferably).
5. Once ready, bring one disc out of the refrigerator and allow to rest for about 10 minutes. Liberally flour the work surface and begin to roll out the dough, working from the center out – rotating the dough after each roll. Roll the dough until about ¼ inch thick and about 12 to 13 inches in diameter.
6. Gently roll the dough around the rolling pin and transfer to a 8 or 9 inch pie tin. Fit the dough into the bottom of the tin and up the sides, allowing for about an inch of overhang. Trim with kitchen sheers and place back in the refrigerator.
7. For the braided top, repeat step 5. Using a ruler and a paring knife, cut 18 strips, about a 1/2-inch wide. Braid in groups of three and place on a baking sheet or cutting board and place in the refrigerator, along with any leftover dough.
8. Meanwhile, make the filling (recipe to follow).
9. Fill the chilled pie crust with the filling (fruit and juices). Remove the braids from the refrigerator and place on top of the filling. Allow for some excess dough on the end of each strip, then trim.
10. Fold all of the excess dough around the edges under itself and crimp using your thumb and index finger (see NOTES).
12. Return the pie back to refrigerator for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
13. Just before heading into the over, create an egg wash by whisking together a whole egg and a splash of milk. Brush the egg wash over the entire top of the crust and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
14. Place pie on a baking sheet and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown. If the top begins to brown too quickly, cover with foil.
15. Allow the baked pie to completely cool before slicing and serving.
Black and Blueberry Filling
adapted from the Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book
4 cups fresh blueberries
2 cups fresh blackberries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Allow to macerate for about 15 minutes before pouring into the chilled pie shell.
– I hardly ever make pie, so I didn’t have a go-to pie crust recipe on hand. I relied on this all-butter crust from my pie-making pal Michelle of Hummingbird High. Be sure to check out her post all about pie for more information.
– When in doubt, keep that butter COLD!! Be sure to refrigerate the pie dough between each step. Keep the butter cold will help prevent the baked crust from shrinking. Don’t quote me on this, but cold butter should also make for a more flakey crust as it helps keeps gluten formation in the flour to a minimum (please forgive me, as I may have just made that up…).
– Feel free to adjust the amount of sugar in the filling slightly to adapt to the ripeness of the fruit.
– Allow the pie to cool completely before slicing. Like, really. Multiple hours (at least 2 to 4 hours).
- For this particular pie, I folded the excess crust from around the edges up and IN towards the center. After watching pie videos on Erin McDowell's Instagram, I noticed she folds excess dough UNDER before crimping. So much prettier!
A big THANK YOU to the BC Blueberry Council for their generation donation of fresh, local berries!