Tuesday, January 3, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Cooking Challenge: Day Four- Four Colly Birds

So, I'm very behind in posting.  As usual.  Here it is, Day 9, and I've only posted up to Day 3.  I'm ashamed.  But I blame it on Beggars.

This past Saturday was, of course, New Year's Eve.  There was an absolutely enormous party at the Casa Loma Ballroom for the Beggar's New Year's Eve show.  Nearly 600 people were in attendance, not to mention the Beggars themselves.  The show featured a champagne toast at midnight, wonderful music by the Royal We, and a multitude of out-of-town and local performers, including Armitage Shanks, Ray Gunn, Jeez Louise, and Lady Jack.

Here are a few links to some photos from that night, as taken by a few of the amazing St. Louis photographers.  (Note: you may need to be friends on Facebook to view some of these)

I spent Friday night and Saturday morning making 8 dozen cupcakes to sell.  There was French Toast and Bacon, Faux-stess, Candy Cane, and VanElla Surprise (a vanilla pudding-filled vanilla cupcake, in honor of Lola Van Ella herself).  And they all sold out!  It was quite a night.

I have been keeping up with cooking, just not with posting.  So... here we go.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me four colly birds.

On the fourth day of Christmas, I made "Blackbird" Berry Pie.

Another thing I learned, besides the timing of the 12 Days of Christmas, is that the line was not originally "four calling birds."  The original phrasing is "four colly birds," "colly" meaning "blackbird."  The line has been modernized into "four calling birds."  Fun fact.

I had a ton of blackberries left from a 10 for $10 sale at Schnucks, so I figured... blackbirds... blackberries... blackbirds.  Close enough.  And then I threw on some bird cut-outs and called it a "Blackbird" Berry Pie.  

"Blackbird" Berry Pie
(serves 8)

1 pie dough recipe for top and bottom (below)
5-6 c. blackberries, rinsed, picked clean, patted dry
1/2-3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp almond extract
3 tbs quick cooking instant tapioca
Place blackberries, sugar, juice, zest, cinnamon, extract, and tapioca in a large bowl.  Fold everything together very gently until the berries are well-coated.  Let rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 F.  You should have two balls of pie dough.  Roll out one on a lightly floured surface to 12" diameter.  Fit into a pie pan.  Chill in the refrigerator while you roll out the other crust.

Roll out the second ball of crust into a 12" circle.  Use a bird shaped cookie cutter to make bird cut-outs.  (Or you can do a lattice-top or a regular full crust, but a bird-scattered crust is much more fun.)

Spoon the berry mixture into the pie pan.  Place your bird cut-outs over the top of the berries.

Trim the edges of the bottom crust to 1/2" from the edge, then fold back over themselves and pinch to make a pretty edge.

Brush the crust with an egg wash (1 egg white, 1 tbs water, beaten).

Place the pie in the middle rack of the oven, with a backing sheet on a lower level, in case any juices bubble over.

Bake at 400 F for 30 minutes.  Then cover with aluminum foil, reduce the heat to 350 F and bake another 30 minutes.  The crust should have browned and the filling should be bubbling.

Let cool completely before serving.
 All Butter Pie Crust

2 1/2 c. flour
1 c. unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
6-8 tbs ice water

Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a bowl.  Cut in butter, or pulse in a food processor until mixture resembles sand, with very small pieces of butter.

Add in water, a bit at a time, and stir/pulse in processor until dough comes together and can hold together in a ball.

Separate dough into two disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Before using, let sit out 5-10 minutes to soften slightly.


My favorite part of this is the bird cut-outs.  In retrospect, I probably should have thrown a few more on, as they obviously shrink with baking.  In further retrospect, these would be adorable as mini-pies, with just one or two bird cut-outs on top.  I got my cookie cutter at Sur La Table.  Technically, it's a chick.  But whatever.

I'm not the biggest blackberry fan, but this is a pretty decent pie.  It's sweet and juicy and the crust turned out lovely, not too flaky and not too hard.  It doesn't get soggy.

Plus, the whole thing is super-cute, I think.

... three French hens...

... two turtledoves...

... and a partridge in a pear tree.

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