Happy Pi Day!

The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book: Uncommon Recipes from the Celebrated Brooklyn Pie ShopThe Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book: Uncommon Recipes from the Celebrated Brooklyn Pie Shop by Emily Elsen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a WOW book for me, and one that I just might have to purchase, since I want to make every pie in the book! So why “only” 4 stars? Mostly just to caution readers that this is probably not a pie book for beginners. Yes, there are detailed instructions given, but I found them just a bit overly fussy. (Seriously? Chilling the pie crust dough at three different steps of construction?) Experienced bakers will know where they can take shortcuts. Also, many of the recipes call for some rather esoteric ingredients. Like Angostura bitters (used in almost every recipe), vanilla paste, rose water, and wild ginger. Again – experienced bakers will know what can be left out, and or substituted for. That said, if you are looking for something beyond the ordinary, this might be the book for you (or me!) The illustrations alone will give you ideas for lattice and other decorative crust treatments. I like the seasonal arrangement of the book, and the emphasis on high-quality, fresh ingredients. They also provide online sources for some of the more hard-to-find ingredients.

I decided to test one of the recipes for Pi Day (March 14.) Had to use what I had on hand without shopping for ingredients. To my mind, that is the mark of a good cookbook – or maybe it says more about the cook – can I use the recipes for ideas without sticking to it exactly… So I foraged in my freezer and came up with a bag still left of last year’s rhubarb crop. Too early here in Minnesota for fresh! I also had a bag of storebought rhubarb to add to that. Then I looked at the several rhubarb pie recipes in the book and settled on the Rhuby Razz Square Pie. Perfect! I had a half a bag of frozen raspberries to use up. Still not enough fruit for the recipe, so I added a bag of frozen blueberries. There was a Bluebarb Slab Pie recipe in the book, but that called for double quantities, so I stuck with the square pie recipe.2014 03 16 001 Cleaning out the freezer I could have made it in a regular pie dish, but I liked the novelty of trying it in a square pan. I liked the addition of cider vinegar to the crust recipe. That might just become my new go-to crust recipe. For the filling, I did not have any arrowroot. Substituted some egg replacer (potato/tapioca starch). Nor did I have any Angostura bitters. I substituted a little lemon juice. It turned out beautifully and tasted delicious! My biggest problem was what to call it. Razzy Bluebarb Pie? Blueby Razz Pie? Rhuby Razzblue Pie?2014 03 16 003 Breakfast

Book Description: Melissa and Emily Elsen, the twenty-something sisters who are proprietors of the wildly popular Brooklyn pie shop and cafe Four & Twenty Blackbirds, have put together a pie-baking book that’s anything but humble. This stunning collection features more than 60 delectable pie recipes organized by season, with unique and mouthwatering creations such as Salted Caramel Apple, Green Chili Chocolate, Black Currant Lemon Chiffon, and Salty Honey. There is also a detailed and informative techniques section. Lavishly designed, FOUR & TWENTY BLACKBIRDS PIE BOOK contains 90 full-color photographs by Gentl & Hyers, two of the most sought-after food photographers working today.

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