Today: We start at the very beginning. With crust.
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A mutual passion for executing the perfect pie crust was probably what truly started us on our journey into pie making. While Emily had gotten excited about making pies from a sculptural, hands-on perspective, it was Melissa who would take our crust recipe and tweak it (over and over again) to perfection with the addition of cider vinegar for tang and tenderness.
To this day you might still find us arguing about perfect crust execution, but we definitely agree that to work in our kitchen, you must have the ability to make a good crust, no matter the size or temperature of your hands. In our opinion, when it comes to baking pie for yourself and your friends and family, it's all about how you, the pie maker, handle it, and not what a machine can do for you.
Makes one single-crust (9- or 10-inch) pie; double amounts for a double-crust pie
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar 1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces 1/2 cup cold water 2 tablespoons cider vinegar 1/2 cup ice
To win a copy of The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book, tell us in the comments: What's your go-to pie crust recipe? We'll pick winners at random at the end of the week! (Unfortunately, we can only ship domestically.)
Sisters Emily Elsen and Melissa Elsen were born and raised in the rural farm town of Hecla, South Dakota. Their mother and her sisters owned and operated the popular local restaurant, the Calico Kitchen, for which their grandmother Liz made all the pies. After pursuing different careers—Melissa in finance and Emily in sculpture and photography—they established their business in Brooklyn. They originally custom-baked pies in their apartment before opening Four & Twenty Blackbirds pie and coffee shop in 2010. Named “Artisan of the Year” by Time Out New York in 2011, they have received critical praise for their pies and have been featured in a variety of food media including the Food Network and the Cooking Channel, in the New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, and New York magazine.