Pie Bird by Jan Pacifico
Material: Stoneware clay
Color: Black and tan
Height: 7 1/2"
Care: Dishwasher, oven and microwave safe.
This item can be special ordered. See special order section on Homepage.
...Four and twenty black birds baked in a pie...
The original pie bird design appears to date back to the 1700s. A traditional pie bird is made from ceramic, a material which is capable of handling the heat of the oven, and it is shaped like a bird with a gaping mouth. At the bottom of the bird, small arches allow steam and juices to enter the hollow body of the bird, while the mouth allows the steam to escape. The bird shape isn’t required; pie birds can come in all shapes ranging from decorative vegetables to miniature chefs and even pie witches!
To use the pie bird, roll out the bottom layer of pastry, press it into the pie pan and then place the pie bird in the middle. Next, put the filling around bird, and carefully lower the top crust over the bird and the filling, after making a hole to allow the bird to fit. The top of the pie bird projects from the pie, allowing steam to escape, while the rest of the body remains buried in the filling.
In addition to venting steam, a pie bird also helps to support the upper crust of the pie. As a pie bakes, the middle has a tendency to collapse, especially if it is very juicy, and this can look unsightly. The bird acts as a pillar in the middle of the pie, holding up the top crust to assure that it cooks crisply and evenly. For this reason, some people refer to the birds as crustholders; pie birds are also known as pie funnels, pie vents and pie chimneys, all referring to the venting function.
When a pie bird is used, the upper crust of a pie does not have to be pierced to allow steam to escape. Some people prefer this unbroken, smooth look, as it looks neater when presented. Some like the look of a whole pie served with a pie bird because it looks old-fashioned.