Of all desserts, pie usually falls close to the bottom of my list – and that goes for making them as well as eating them.
I’ve already ranted about much I hate rolling out dough – which probably accounts for why I rarely bake pies. Sure, I’ll do a tart with a crumb crust that can be pressed into the pan. And yes, I’ll often resort to a (gasp!) pre-rolled crust, just to get to the fun part (I convince myself that my fillings and toppings are so fresh and delicious that they more than compensate for the shortcut crust. Yep.). But a classic pie with a made-from-scratch double crust? Rarely, if ever, will you find one cooling on my kitchen counter.
Eating pies is another story altogether. Whether served in a bakery, restaurant or catered event, I am almost always disappointed.. The fillings are often gummy in texture and overly sweet. And the crust is never how I imagine it will be – typically rock-hard and tasteless.
So, yeah, not big on pie.
Then about a year ago a bakery that specializes in pies began popping up in all of my favorite reads. Bon Appetit. The New York Times. New York Magazine. The shop itself sounded adorable and totally worth a trip. But the pies? They sounded amazing – the kind of stellar, let’s-set-the-bar-sky-high-and-keep-it-there quality that I had a feeling would deliver.
Owners, bakers and sisters Emily and Melissa Eisen hail from South Dakota, and came to Brooklyn with serious pie-making credentials. They earned their stripes growing up and working in their mother’s restaurant, and use their grandmother Elizabeth’s recipes (swapping out her lard-based crusts for butter – love that!) as the inspiration for their thoroughly modern pies.
But though the recipes are grandma’s, the pies are completely the sisters’ own. They use unusual, custom-sourced ingredients and combine flavors you’ll never see in your corner diner. Cranberry and Sage. Salt and Honey. Chili and Chocolate. And they ensure that the quality of the pies is maintained by only making a limited number each week.
And I am delighted to say that both the restaurant- and, more importantly the pies – surpassed my expectations. The bakery’s interior serves as the perfect backdrop to complement the pies. It’s warm, rustic and uncluttered – a combination of tin walls, exposed beams, wood floors and handmade tables. Pretty and welcoming, without being overdone or cliched. There are enough rough edges to fit right into the industrial neighborhood, but plenty of warmth and charm, befitting a place that serves such delectable pies.
The pies. Chelsea and I decided to get two and share. Chelsea’s was a no-brainer – salted caramel apple for my sweet and salty girl. I went for the lavender honey custard – something I knew would be unique to the shop and what I imagined defined these girls’ deft and creative culinary hands.
And oh. My. God. Served with fresh whipped cream and big glasses of iced coffee (made from Irving Farm beans, a bag of which I happily took home), these were the pies of my dreams. Flaky, tender – oh yes, perfect – crusts. Fresh, clean and insanely flavorful fillings.
This place is definitely worth the trip. Make sure you get there early as once the pies sell out, that’s it for the day. As one of the hallmarks of this restaurant is the use of local and seasonal ingredients, I can’t guarantee that the pies we had will be available when you go. I can, however, promise that you will not be disappointed with anything you sample. We loved this place and look forward to visiting again (and again) soon!
As for making pies? I’ll get back to you…………
Four and Twenty Blackbirds
439 3rd Avenue
Brooklyn New York 11215