Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Bake the Book: Black Bottom Oatmeal Pie from Four & Twenty Blackbirds

Last week was J's birthday, and the rule in our family is that you get any meal you want on your birthday. It took him a few days to select his preferred dinner menu (he eventually settled on homemade crab cakes, saut├ęd spinach, and parmesan angel hair pasta...and the messiest kitchen in the history of our apartment), but he'd been talking about the dessert for months. His request? Black Bottom Oatmeal Pie from Four and Twenty Blackbirds. Why? Because last fall our friends got married and served a medley of Four and Twenty pies at the reception, and that was one of their offerings - and our favorite of the evening. Luckily though, I was already in possession of their eponymous cookbook, which provides step-by-step instructions on every aspect of the pie-making process.

Not only was the resulting pie absolutely delicious, is was also really fun to make. Toasting the oats elicited a surprisingly maternal and homey feeling within me, and there was just enough chocolate ganache left over for me to enjoy a yummy taste or three.

This recipe is taken directly from the Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book:

For a single-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 pieces
1/2 cup cold water
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 cup ice

Sitr 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; be careful not to overblend.
Combine the water, cider vinegar, and ice in a large measuring cup or a small 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.

To prebake the crust:
Remove the crust from the refrigerator and let stand for at least 10 minutes. Roll out the dough on a well-floured surface to 1/8" thickness and 1" larger than your pie plate. Place in a buttered pie dish and crimp the edges as preferred, and then place the crust back in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. When it's fully chilled, use a fork to prick all over the bottom and sides, 15 to 20 times. Place crust in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Preheat oven and a baking sheet to 425 degrees. When the crust is frozen, line it tightly with aluminum foil. Make sure the crimped edges are completely covered and there are no gaps between the foil and the crust. Pour pie weights (or dried beans, which are cheaper and easier to come by) into the pan and spread them so they are concentrated more around the edge of the shell than in the center. Place the pan on the preheated baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until the edges are set but not browned. Remove and cool completely before filling.

For the filling:
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped into 1/4" pieces (I used Lint 70% Dark Chocolate and it was wonderful)
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup dark corn syrup (I used light corn syrup because that's what I had on hand and it seemed just fine)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
4 large eggs

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the oats on a rimed baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool. Reduce oven temp to 325 degrees.

To make the ganache layer, bring the heavy cream just to a boil over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Remove from the heat and pour in the chocolate pieces. Swirl the cream around to distribute and cover the chocolate; let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk gently until smooth. Scrape the ganache into the cooled pie shell and spread evenly over the bottom. Place the shell in the freezer to set the ganache while making the filling.

In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, ginger, salt, and melted butter. Add the corn syrup, vanilla, and cider vinegar and whisk to combine. Add the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Stir in the cooled oats.

Place the ganache-coated pie shell on a rimmed baking sheet and pour in the filling. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for about 55 minutes, rotating 180 degrees when the edges start to set, 30 to 35 minutes through baking. The pie is finished when the edges are set and puffed slightly and the center is slightly firm to the touch but still has some give (like gelatin). Allow to cool completely on a wire rack, 2 to 3 hours. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

The pie will keep refrigerated for 3 days or at room temperature for 2 days (that's assuming you have leftovers, which we very nearly did not).

This pie in other places: Smitten Kitchen has some delicious-sounding variations!

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