I’m not going to lie– cakes are my absolute favorite thing to bake. I love the whole process of cake making. I love the chemistry of the baking itself. I love attempting to yield the moistest cake with the brightest flavor combinations. I love temporarily becoming a cake architect while trying to piece it all together. Most of all, I love pairing the flavors of the cake with an aesthetic image that I’ve created in my head. Cakes are the perfect craft.
That said, this summer I discovered pie.
I’ve made pie before– perfecting the simple lattice long ago– but I was never very enthusiastic about it (which is odd, considering I personally prefer a slice of pie over a piece of cake).
In my quest for more cake specific cookbooks, I stumbled upon the Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book.
I’ve got to say it– that book completely changed my perception of pie. The pie crusts featured in that book are the best I’ve ever used (especially the all butter crust!).
Though I don’t follow the book’s pie filling recipes to a T, preferring to add a few of my own twists, the Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book has inspired the past 6 or 7 pies that I have made. They were all fantastic.
In conclusion: pie is good. Pie is great.
Butter pie crust
From the Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup cold butter, cubed
1 tbsp refined sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup ice water
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Mix ice water and apple cider vinegar in a glass or measuring cup. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, whisk together flour, salt and sugar.
Add cubed butter. The dough will begin to cut together.
When the mixture forms pea sized crumbles, sprinkle in three tbsp of the ice water and apple cider vinegar mixture, one at a time. Allow the dough to come together until shaggy. Add an additional tbsp if dough still appears dry and crumbly.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface and bring together with hands. Form two discs. Wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Nectarine and blackberry filling
3 lb ripe nectarines, peeled (I used about 7)
1 lb ripe blackberries
1/4 cup + 3 tbsp white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp corn starch
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
Peel and dice the nectarines. Toss the nectarines and blackberries in lemon juice and 3 tbsp white sugar and allow to macerate for an hour. Drain the liquid into a small saucepan.
Reduce the drained liquid until it becomes a thick syrup. Allow to cool and mix back into the fruit mixture.
Toss together the remaining dry ingredients in a large bowl. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the fruit mixture.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Roll out one pie dough disk on a floured surface. The resulting circle of dough should be about 12 inches in diameter. Gently line a 9 inch pie pain, allowing the edge of the dough to hang off the sides (I always use this pie pan).
Fill prepared pie crust with fruit.
Roll out second dough disk. Use cookie cutters to stamp out shapes or a pizza cutter and a ruler to shape a lattice topping. Cover and finish the pie how you choose!
Whisk the egg and gently brush exposed pie crust.
Place finished pie in the fridge for ten minutes before baking.
Place pie on the bottom most rack of your oven and bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
At this point, the pie should be evenly browned. Cover with tinfoil to prevent the crust from burning.
Turn oven down to 375 degrees and bake for another 30 minutes until the fruit juices are thickened and bubbling. (The blackberries give this pie a really lovely purple color throughout!)
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely (3-4 hours) before cutting and serving.