Four & Twenty Blackbirds Grapefruit Custard Pie
Attention, everyone: spring may actually be on it’s way. Which means that the time for picnics and beers outside is so soon. One might even say it’s nigh. However, it also means that the winter dessert season is coming to a close. We’re moving away from the pumpkin-spiced, the powdered sugar-dusted, the holly-garnished. We’re entering the land of fresh berries and cream and torn basil, grilled peaches and balsamic. POPSICLES. Using your shorts for a napkin because you’re eating on a lawn and couldn’t possibly spend a minute not lying on a blanket in the sun. Yes, I am in fact very excited. But before I get too into spring and summer (!!) recipes, let’s take a sec and enjoy the last licks of winter with a good custard pie. One with grapefruit. And Campari.
I know what most of you are thinking. Grapefruit custard? Is that even a thing? Well, I’m here to tell you it is. A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to get my hands on the Four & Twenty Blackbirds cookbook. If you’re living under a rock or perhaps an underground apocalypse cult (can you guess what’s on my Netflix account lately?) and have not yet heard of Four & Twenty Blackbirds, they’re a sister team turned pie shop empire in Brooklyn and they really get it when it comes to pie. Pie is so much more than apple or strawberry rhubarb. It’s a blank pastry canvas for any kind of experimentation. Please tell me how one could put an unlikely combination of equally tasty ingredients in a buttery crust sleeping bag and not yield a truly wondrous dessert experience. That’s what these Blackbird ladies do: mint, bourbon, and chocolate pie; apple rose pie; salty honey pie; I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point. Experiment with your pie, people- it’ll be well worth the flour on your nose and beet-stained fingernails.
So, I give you the Four & Twenty Blackbirds grapefruit custard pie, coming from the winter pie section of the book. Which is a genius idea, because as tasty as paprika peach pie sounds, it’s kinda tricky to find a nice peach in say, February. So you just flip a few pages and see that citrus is the way to go. If I make this one again, I want to try it with blood orange. Can you imagine the color? I know. In the meantime, find yourself a copy of this book and get cracking!
Also, some links to change your day:
3-D printed ice cubes because technology is..not (?) unbelievably intriguing/scary..
stop everything you can hard-boil eggs IN THE OVEN
charoset ice cream! charoset ice cream!!! too bad it’s only available in Israel..guess I should just make my own, even though I did kinda miss my Passover window
Pie (from The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book)
For the crust (9-inch pie)
1¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1½ teaspoons granulated sugar
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into½-inch pieces
½ cup cold water
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
½ cup ice
one egg white
For the filling
1¼ cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs 1 large egg yolk
1 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (~2 grapefruits)
3 tablespoons Campari liqueur
1 cup heavy cream
Dash orange-flavored cocktail bitters (optional)
Make the crust: Stir the flour, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the butter and toss lightly in the flour mixture using until coated. With a pastry blender or cold fingers, cut the butter into the flour mixture (work quickly!) until the majority of pieces of butter remaining are pea-size (a few larger pieces are okay; it’s better not to overblend). Combine the water, cider vinegar, and ice in a large measuring cup or small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the ice water mixture to the flour mixture, and mix it in with fingers/bench scraper/spatula until fully incorporated. Add more of the ice water mixture, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, using the bench scraper or fingers to mix until the dough comes together in a ball, with some dry bits remaining. Bring any extra bits of dough together, sprinkling dry bits with more small drops of the ice water mixture if necessary (I didn’t find this needed) to combine. Shape the dough into a flat disc, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, but preferably overnight.
Make the custard: In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, salt and melted butter. Whisk in the eggs and egg yolk one at a time, blending well after each addition. Whisk in the grapefruit juice, Campari, heavy cream, and bitters, if using.
Prebake the crust: Roll out the crust on a well-floured work surface to about 1/8-inch thickness. Roll the crust onto the rolling pin and onto a 9-inch pie pan. Crimp the crust any way your heart desires (go down the rabbit hole) and refrigerate crust for at lease 30 minutes. Use a fork to prick all around the bottom and sides, then move the crust to the freezer. Place a rimmed baking sheet on the lowest rack of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Whisk together the egg white and and one teaspoon of water and set aside (this will act as a moisture-proof bottom/side sealant.) When the crust is frozen solid (~10 minutes,) line lightly with foil and fill with pie weights/beans (I use dried chickpeas.) Place the pan on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until the crust’s edges are set but not brown. Remove the crust with the baking sheet and lift out the foil/weights. Let cool for a moment or two, then use a pastry brush to coat the bottom and sides of the crust with the egg wash. Return the pan and baking sheet to the oven and bake for another 3 minutes. Let cool completely on baking sheet.
Put it all together: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Make sure the the prebaked pie shell is still on the baking sheet. Strain the filling through a fine-mesh sieve directly into the pie shell (or strain into a separate bowl and then pour it into the shell.) Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 50-55 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees when the edges start to set (~30-35 minutes through baking.) The pie is finished when the edges are set and puffed slightly and the center is no longer liquid but still wobbly. (Don’t overbake! The custard can separate if heated for too long; it will continue to cook and set after the pie is removed from the oven.) Allow the pie to cool completely on a wire rack, 2 to 3 hours (good luck.) Serve at room temperature or cool with a coffee (the only time the coffee + grapefruit combo is not awful) or a get crazy decadent and make yourself a negroni to embrace the Campari in the pie. The pie will keep refrigerated for 2 days or at room temperature for 1 day.