According to Emily Elsen from Four & Twenty Blackbirds, the secret to the perfect pie is all in the crust.
"This is our signature and most popular crust, with a hint of cider vinegar for tang and tenderness. It’s basically just butter, flour, water, little sugar, little salt," she says.
All completely fresh and handmade using local dairy products, it's also a measure of just how far their business has come.
"When we started it was all rolled out by hand, without a machine even. We used to have a crust-off to see who could get through it faster. We’d have a set-up and share the tools, and then race just to get through it."
Makes dough for one single-crust 9- to 10-inch pie or tart
- 1¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1½ teaspoons granulated sugar
- ¼ pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
- ½ cup cold water
- 2 tablespoonscider vinegar
- ½ cup ice
- Stir the flour, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the butter pieces and coat with the flour mixture using a bench scraper or spatula.
- With a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture, working quickly until mostly pea-size pieces of butter remain (a few larger pieces are okay; be careful not to overblend).
- Combine the water, cider vinegar, and ice in a large measuring cup or bowl. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the ice water mixture over the flour mixture, and mix and cut it in with a bench scraper or spatula until it is fully incorporated.
- Add more of the ice water mixture, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, using the bench scraper or your hands (or both) to mix until the dough comes together in a ball, with some dry bits remaining.
- Squeeze and pinch with your fingertips to bring all the dough together, sprinkling dry bits with more small drops of the ice water mixture, if necessary, to combine.
- Shape the dough into a flat disc, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight, to give the crust time to mellow.
- Wrapped tightly, the dough can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 1 month.