Pie Time, All the Time
In March I'm using any excuse to keep the oven on. Damp cool mornings usually give way to sunny and pleasant days here in North Carolina, but the slippery slope of spring means we often slide into a few days, or even weeks, of cooler weather that beckons us to make hearty homemade foods suitable for warming the bones.
Pie is always my favorite. I have my beloved pie dough recipe from the Tartine Cookbook, taught to me years ago while assisting April McGregor, owner of The Farmer's Daughter. I made this dough so many times that the actions required just pour off me now as I wade through the piles of butter and flour. Technically, it's a galette dough, but I use it for all my pies and quiches requiring a flaky, buttery crust. It has never failed me, and often I am stunned at how soft and tender the result is, even when I am sure I over mixed it. It is made with an unusually barbaric method: piling your ingredients on the table and rolling the fat directly into the flour with the brute force of your rolling pin, then stirring in the ice cold water into the shaggy, buttery mountain of dough. Its absolutely adventurous, and afterwards I feel like I've climbed an actual mountain, a little disoriented but slightly elated.
Pantry note: I get my unbleached, never bromated flour from 1 of two sources: natural food store bulk bin or King Arthur Flour. This recipe calls for half pastry flour, made from spring wheat, and contains a lower gluten level, yielding a tender, baby butt soft crust that will bring you to your knees. Read about the dangers of Bromate here.
Four and Twenty Blackbirds, Baked in a Pie
Enter the pie bird. A nifty kitchen gadget of Victorian origin (swoon!) that is used to vent and evenly bake any civilised double crusted pie. I was commissioned to make my version of this nifty little creature sometime last year. Although I had never used one, I loved the idea of making something that I could use in my pie baking while sharing my love of vintage folk traditions. Since then, they have become little harbingers of joy. People adore them, and that make me so happy. There is something so lovely about something that spends 95% of its life on a shelf bringing you delight every time you accidentally glance at it, and then is a sweet little workhorse in the oven making your pies prize worthy.
I am excited to share my journey with you as I make and use some new pie focused porcelain this month. I have developed some new forms and will revive a few old ones, all with a focus on baking and pies. I have a dreamy photo shoot with Rose Trail Images scheduled at the end of March which will surely set me up with some delightful ways to tell the story of how those cute little birdies are used.
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TIll then, cheers!