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Well this one was a bit of a doozy.

I’ve had this pie several times at the wonderful pie shop Four and Twenty Blackbirds, and enjoyed it thoroughly. The combination of chocolate and oats is both decadent and satisfying, plus it marries beautifully with the whipped cream Four and Twenty always has on the side.

I was very excited when I found the bakery endorsed recipe on the website Food52.com (if you haven’t been, go!). Mr Kitchen and I needed to bring a dessert to a dinner party on Saturday night–what better time to try my own version of the BBOP?

Suffice it to say that I’ve had better results. The pie was woefully under baked–I should have known just by looking at the top layer, but after 70 minutes, I couldn’t conscience keeping the thing in the oven any longer. Even after three hours of cooling, when we sliced into the middle, the center oozed out with a texture similar to the raw batter. And to make matters worse, the mouth feel was like gooey porridge. “It’s kinda like a granola pie!” my friend offered helpfully. I wanted to crawl under the table.

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All ooze and no fun makes pie a dull boy.

So it was back to the drawing board with a vengeance. I popped by the bakery on the way home from a run (note to self: there is no smugger feeling in the world than buying a pie while wearing running tights) to pick a slice to analyze.

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The real McCoy. See how the top is a completely different color?

I spent the afternoon alternately checking the recipe and slowly pulling apart the example pie to figure out what went wrong. Here are my thoughts:

  • Increase oven temperature to 350 F. Upping the temp ensures the pie is completely baked, as well as achieves that wonderful caramelized, slightly crunchy top layer. It also keeps you from giving your fellow dinner party guests salmonella.
  • Add some oomph to the filling. A little more ginger, some cinnamon, and dark brown sugar give a wonderful depth and complexity to the taste. Next time, I might even add a 1/4 cup of nuts.
  • Corn syrup is a suggestion, not a rule. I wanted to get rid of the rest of my corn syrup, so I used it plus a 1/4 cup molasses. Given the chance to do it again, I probably would do 3/4 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup and 1/4 cup molasses. Because we’ve all read The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Why eat more corn than you need to?

The tweaks resulted in a pie with a deep golden brown crust, a gorgeous and complex taste profile, and a fully cooked center. Pie success and mystery solved! Hooray!

Black Bottom Oatmeal Pie

Adapted from The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book: Uncommon Recipes from the Celebrated Brooklyn Pie Shop

  • 1 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream or milk
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cups cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 heaping teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup dark corn syrup (or Lyle’s Golden Syrup)
  • 1/4 cup dark molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 4 large eggs
  1. This recipe uses an All-Butter Crust for a 9-inch single-crust pie, partially prebaked and cooled.
  2. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350° F.
  3. Spread the oats on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until fragrant, stirring occasionally.
  4. Set aside to cool.
  5. To make the ganache layer, bring the heavy cream or milk just to a boil over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Remove from the heat and pour in the chocolate pieces.
  6. Swirl the cream around to distribute and cover the chocolate; let sit for 5 minutes.
  7. Stir gently until smooth. Scrape the ganache into the cooled pie shell and spread evenly over the bottom.
  8. Place the shell in the freezer to set the ganache while making the filling.
  9. In a large bowl, stir together the brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, salt, and melted butter.
  10. Add the corn syrup, molasses, vanilla, and cider vinegar and whisk to combine.
  11. Add the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition.
  12. Stir in the cooled oats.
  13. Place the ganache-coated pie shell on a rimmed baking sheet and pour in the filling.
  14. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for about 55 minutes. Protect the edges of the pie with foil after 30 minutes.
  15. The pie is finished when the top is a deep brown (almost caramelized), the edges are set and puffed slightly and the center is slightly firm to the touch but still has some give (like gelatin).
  16. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack, 2 to 3 hours.
  17. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream.
  18. The pie will keep refrigerated for 3 days or at room temperature for 2 days.
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