PIE!

I like pie a lot.

It's my favourite kind of dessert. And very high up on the list of savoury things I like, too. I don't discriminate, all pies are welcome on my plate. Fruit pies? Yes. Custard pies? Of course. Hand pies? Give them to me. Tarts? Definitely. Pot pies? No question. Quiche? It has crust and filling, don't it? ALL OF THE PIES! All of the kinds. :) :) :) 

This year, I wanted to improve my pie-making skills (to better support my pie-eating skills). For Christmas, I received an excellent, sturdy, ceramic pie plate AND a really fabulous cookbook: The Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book, by sisters Emily and Melissa Elsen (Thanks mom!!). The book has a lot of super useful tips for beginners (how to roll out, fit, crimp, rest, and pre-bake crusts, for example), as well as lots of details about ingredients and techniques. Even better, it has a variety of recipes organized by season, from the familiar (Salted Caramel Apple!) to the innovative (Rosemary Shoofly!) to the transcendent (SALTY HONEY!).

Since December, I've been baking a pie every week (ish). At first, my crust skills were awful: tough, crunchy crusts that somehow seeped butter out onto the pan (what?) and made me sad. Still, even terrible pie is still pie. I kept at it, and I'm FINALLY starting to improve! 

Which recipes have I tested out so far? Here they are (in the order I made them)!

Black Bottom Oatmeal (which was sweet and crunchy, one of my husband's favourites so far.)

Rosemary Honey Shoofly, which had kind of a coffee cake vibe going on. I LOVED the rosemary flavour (one of my favourites in cooking!). I admit that it was a bit cake-leaning for my preferences ;)

Blushing Apple Pie, which includes this amazing roasted-beet-orange-cardamom-vanilla-sauce-thing. I looooooved this one; I think it's my second favourite from the book so far (even though my crust was still a bit crappy at this point.)

Green Chili Chocolate, made with jalapeno peppers for subtle spice! (This one was super rich and amazing. I like spice a lot, so if I made it again, I'd add even more jalapeno for a more obvious heat.) The chocolate crust was a fun experiment too!

Sliced Sweet Potato and Apple Crumble Pie, which was unique and sweet and an excellent colour. I thought the crumble topping (which doubles as a crust in other recipes) was completely perfect.

Lemon Chess Pie, simple and perfect! Tangy, citrusy lemon pie is a big favourite (and I much prefer lemon pie WITHOUT the overly sweet meringue), so this was right up my alley - and another fave of my husband's. This pie is on the cover of the book, but with a much fancier crust!

Cranberry Sage Pie, with a combination of fresh and (rehydrated) dried cranberries, was lovely and tart and amazing with the almond whipped cream I made! By this point, my crust was becoming decidedly more edible, although still far from perfect. 

Pear Anise Pie, which was a combo I would never have thought of myself! The anise was perfect, just assertive enough without overwhelming the pear flavour. This pie used one of the book's cool techniques - combining spices with sugar in a grinder or food processor, to release the flavours and make everything fragrant and awesome. Crust game getting stronger! (You can tell I'm feeling more confident by my decorative star shape approach.)

The next pie gets two photos - because it was HANDS DOWN my favourite so far. I love it. I want to eat it forever and make it for everyone. I totally understand why it's the book (and the shop)'s flagship pie. It is (to repeat myself) transcendent.

SALTY HONEY PIE. Here's how it looks in the book (alongside the flaky maldon salt I bought to finish it with... "soft crunchy flakes"!):

And here's mine :) It was so good. I will DEFINITELY be making this again. A lot. It's very, very sweet, so if that's not your thing, ymmv. But the salt balances it so so nicely, and honey is such a fantastic flavour. I used Wildflower honey from Babe's Honey Farm, because it's local to me and mega tasty.

Most recent (and by most recent I mean I made it yesterday), the first recipe I've made from the SPRING section of the book...

Rhubarb pie! This lovely simple fruit pie has allspice, ginger, and cardamom in it (YUM). I skipped the Angostura bitters (because v. expensive for just 2 dashes - and I'm not much of a cocktails maker, so I would never use it up). Super lovely! This time the crust shapes are (slightly janky) hearts.

My pie journey so far!! Excepting yesterday's rhubarb pie, all the recipes above are from the fall and winter sections of the book. I am unabashedly delighted to be getting into the spring and summer sections, partly because there are SO many more fruit pie options! I like custard pies a lot, but I think there's something completely magic about crust + fruit :)

Next on my shortlist are another rhubarb number (rhubarb compote on the bottom and custard on top!) and a pie featuring both honey and lavender (with a candied lavender garnish!)... oh pie, I love you :)

Check out the Elsens' excellent book, leave me your pie-baking and crust-creating tips (seriously, I need them. I am still a mega amateur.), and share your favourite kind of pie in the comments :) Yay pie!!