Black Walnut Pie

Given how long I’ve been baking, it surprises me how many things I do not feel like I’ve got the hang of yet. Pie is one of them. This pie, in particular.

It took me five attempts to make this happen. Five. Two failed attempts at Thanksgiving when I couldn’t get the caramel filling to work (I later discovered this is because caramel and gas stoves do not play well together). One failed attempt two weeks ago when I got impatient and unrolled the store-bought pie crust without letting it come to room temperature (which results in cracking and a mess of a crust). Then on the first attempt this go around I got so excited that the caramel had come together that I forgot to add the liquid and it solidified before I figured out I’d missed a step.

So. I wish I could say this had been worth all the hassle. Made by people who actually know what they’re doing with pie, it probably is. The recipe comes from one of my Brooklyn mecca’s: Four and Twenty Blackbirds pie shop. That shop changed my mind about pie three years ago. They know what’s up with some damn good pie. Recreating their magic, however, at least in this instance, is beyond me.

I did learn that there are such things as black walnuts, that they have a very poignant/distinct flavor, and they’re a pain in the butt to track down.

The filling of this pie has promise – it’s a caramel apple custard that I think should taste pretty awesome. Again, I’m not sure I cooked it right. I also subbed apple juice for apple cider since I didn’t feel like buying a gallon of cider, and maybe that’s one of the several places I went wrong. I dunno. All I know is that I really wanted this to be better than it was – which was just okay.

Black Walnut Pie (from The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book)

Grade: B- (would give it a C, but I’m factoring in the likelihood that I’m to blame for some of the mediocrity)

Apologies, faithful readers, I’m going to post pictures instead of typing up all the instructions on this one. But I will provide the ingredient list!

  • 1 cup black walnuts
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 Tbs butter
  • 2 Tbs water
  • 3/4 cup apple cider
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp cornmeal
  • 3 eggs

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