If I can’t go back to Four & Twenty Blackbirds every weekend,
at least I can work my way though the The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book.
And maybe I’ll eventually get my head around lattice crusts at the same time.
Two birds, one stone…
(Sweet and smoky. No further introduction necessary.)
For the crust
2 + 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp caster sugar
220g cold butter
1 cup cold water
1 cup ice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
For the filling
Around 1.2 kg peaches (5–6 large peaches)
Juice from a lemon
2/3 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp cornflour or potato starch
1 tbsp paprika (I used 1/2 tbsp regular and 1/2 tbsp smoked)
1/8 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
Egg wash (1 egg white, 1 tsp water)
- Start preparing the crust a few hours ahead of time.
Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the salt and sugar, and stir together.
- Dice the butter into small cubes, then blend it into the flour mixture with your fingertips — work quickly and stop when there are still some pea-sized bits of unblended butter.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the water, ice and vinegar. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of the liquid into the flour/butter mixture, and mix it in with your fingertips.
- Add more liquid, 1–2 tbsp at a time, mixing as you go, until the dough comes together into a rough ball, with a few dry loose bits.
- Split the dough in two, flatten the halves into discs, and wrap them separately in cling wrap. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
- Butter the bottom and sides of your pie dish.
- To make the bottom crust, take one ball of dough out of the fridge about 10 minutes before you’re ready to roll it out.
- Roll it out on a floured benchtop (or, for easy transfer to the pie dish, roll it out on a piece of cling wrap, and only add flour to the rolling pin itself). The dough should be about 2cm larger than your pie dish.
- Carefully place the rolled-out dough on the pie dish, and place the whole thing in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
- To prepare the filling…*
While the pie crust is in the freezer,
a) remove the second disc of dough out of the fridge
b) preheat the oven to 200° C
c) cut an X into the base of each peach, set a large saucepan of water to boil, and fill a large bowl with iced water.
- Pop the peaches into the simmering water for 1 minute, then transfer them to the iced water.
- While the peaches are resting, mix together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- By now you should be able to remove the peach skins (entirely, if they’re ripe, or at least a little bit, if they’re not).
- Slice up the peaches and toss them in the lemon juice, then add them to the dry ingredients and stir well.
- Transfer the peaches into the prepared pie base (blind baked or not).
- Roll out the second disc of dough (as before) and cut it into 8 strips, discarding the left- and right-most edges.
- Make the lattice. (The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book has a wonderfully clear and easy-to-follow walkthrough, but there are plenty of illustrated guides online — like this one.)
- Trim and crimp the edges of the pastry, brush the lattice and edges with egg wash (taking care not to get any of the filling on the top of the crust), and sprinkle with demerara sugar.
- Put the pie on a tray on the bottom shelf of the oven, and bake for 20–25 minutes, then reduce the temperature to about 165° C, move the tray to the middle shelf, and bake fore another 30–35 minutes, or until your pie looks like this:
(Maybe not as dark as that bit in the middle.)
- Leave the pie to cool for a few hours, try not to eat it every time you catch a smell of it, then serve at room temperature, with vanilla ice-cream. Or custard. Or yoghurt. Or nothing.
*The original recipe says to put the filling directly into the raw pie shell and bake it all at once, but I ended up with an uncooked base. So sad. I suspect blind baking the pie crust — including brushing it with an egg wash before the last 5 minutes of baking — and leaving it to sit for 20 minutes before adding the filling would avoid this conundrum. (But so would more practice, and a better understanding of fruit-pie physics.)