How to Make an Exceptional Summer Pie, According to Four & Twenty Blackbirds’s Emily Elsen
Sisters Emily and Melissa Elsen experienced the delight of a toothsome dessert at an early age. They grew up in the tiny town of Hecla, South Dakota—“not the ranching, mountainous region, but the rural plains, like Laura Ingalls Wilder,” Emily says—working in their family’s restaurant, run by their mother and two aunts. Their grandmother Elizabeth made its pies, which regularly drew in hungry customers. In 2009, the pair channeled the work ethic and honest use of quality ingredients demonstrated by their relatives into the Brooklyn bakery Four & Twenty Blackbirds, which produces idiosyncratic pies, in varieties such as black-bottom oat and lavender honey custard, that are as distinct as they are delicious. (It also ships them nationally, via Goldbelly.) As summer picnics were beginning to pick up steam, Emily recently spoke with us about the pie she suggests making when the weather is warm, about cooking with personality, and why a home-baked pastry, even an imperfect one, is a reliably foolproof treat.