The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book
Reviewed by Kate Thornberry, Fri., Dec. 6, 2013
by Emily and Melissa Elsen
Grand Central Publishing, 224 pp., $30
Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Shop in Brooklyn has quickly risen to national prominence since it was opened by sisters Emily and Melissa Elsen in 2010. The Elsens hail from North Dakota, where their family owned a small-town restaurant, and these sisters are very serious (and very knowledgeable) about pie. Living in Brooklyn, they have been able to combine real-world know-how about pie making (learned from their mother and grandmother) with cutting-edge culinary trends. Because these pies are made in vast numbers in their bakery, the recipes are flawless and thoroughly vetted. The result is the most exciting pie cookbook I have seen in years.
The Elsens make their pies seasonally, and the recipes are arranged in this fashion. But the recipes you will find in this book are not copies of recipes you already have. These recipes are original: Salted Caramel Apple Pie, Pistachio Coconut Cream Pie, Strawberry Balsamic Pie, Bourbon Pear Crumble Pie, Malted Chocolate Pecan Pie, Grapefruit Custard Pie, Black Bottom Meyer Lemon Pie, and Maple Buttermilk Custard Pie are just a few of the exciting creations this book contains. There are a few simpler, standby recipes, like rhubarb pie and sour cherry pie, but even these have been updated for better sweet/sour balance and optimum texture. The book also gives multiple crust recipes, given with explicit and clear instructions for beginners.