Black Bottom Oatmeal Pie

With exactly -13 days to go until Thanksgiving, I am not just reflecting on my menu (apple herb stuffing! sweet potato gratin! corn muffins!) but also a few little things I'm thankful for, which deserve a little acknowledgement. Thankfulness, after all, is the point of the holiday (along with the larger-than-life turkey, of course) and so *clears throat* here are just a few of the many things I am grateful for lately:

-My daily walk to work, where I pass the ancient Pyramid of Caius Cestius and catch a glimpse of Circus Maximus; 
-My early morning breakfast routine, complete with a perfectly made cappuccino, a honey-filled cornetto, and the company of one of my best friends;
-My exceptional teammates, my office with a view, and my hilarious office mate;  
-Earl Grey tea and a good book before bed;
-Re-watching nostalgic movies from the 90s;
-Anyone who reads and likes my blog, which I work a heck of a lot on; 
-The comforting and consistently magical act of baking, everything from cookies to cakes to bread to pie.

So! I'm a pretty lucky girl with a lot to be thankful for, but since I'm willing to bet you've come here for a Thanksgiving recipe rather than my reflections, let's get back to that last, more relevant point -- baking, and pie. Pie is an essential part of Thanksgiving -- the holy trinity being Pecan, Pumpkin, and Apple -- and no Thanksgiving table is complete without it. I'd been set on sharing some variant on pumpkin pie this year, when, in my pie research, I came across this Black Bottom Oatmeal Pie from the famous Four and Twenty Blackbirds bakery, which had been baked and raved about everywhere from Smitten Kitchen to Food52 to Bon Appetit, plus countless food blogs in between. I was intrigued; here was a pie, yes, but one that was a little different than the usual Thanksgiving pie, one I'd never heard of. Black Bottom Oatmeal Pie was a pie firmly in Uncharted Pie Territory, and I was downright pumped to bake it (for other food-related things that I am unreasonably enthusiastic about, click here). 

Pumpkin-pie-plans thoroughly out the window, I got to work -- I happily prepped my pie dough, toasted the oatmeal, and melted the chocolate for the base, then tucked the whole thing in to the oven with great anticipation (as one does when making homemade pie). The resulting pie, once cooled, cut, and tasted -- is there anything more agonizing than waiting for a pie to cool, by the way? -- was a marvelous sort of oatmeal cookie-pecan pie hybrid (dreams do come true). The crust was superbly buttery, and perfectly crisp, with a gooey, caramel-y filling, all held together by a heap of toasty, lightly crunchy oats, and below this magical concoction, a layer of melt-y, bittersweet chocolate. The chocolate balanced out the sweetness of the filling perfectly, the pie crust was downright phenomenal (thankful for par-baking!) and I was pretty impressed with my crust-crimping skills, too. My taste testers were beyond pleased, and it have been a rather photogenic dessert, too, as per the message of a friend-colleague of mine who had spotted it on social media: you wouldn't by any chance have a piece of that to bring to work tomorrow, would you?! Bottom line: I was very, very thankful for this pie, and I think you will be, too. 

A couple of notes: You could most certainly use storebought pie crust here, but this one is fantastic and I highly recommend you give it a try. I found my golden syrup at Castroni, for those of you here in Rome. Golden syrup has a lot more salt than corn syrup, so if you decide to use golden syrup here as I did, you will have to reduce the salt -- I cut the salt in half and it was perfect. I know that par-baking is a sort of annoying step here, but I did it and my crust was perfectly crisp. Finally, I bet that pecans substituted for the oats here would be nice, if you want to do a Black Bottom Pecan Pie. Hmmm. 

Looking for other oatmeal-centric desserts? I've got these Apple Crisps with Pecan-Oatmeal topping, and this Oatmeal Cookie Cake, these Best Ever Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. Looking for other Thanksgiving-worthy pies? I've got this Brownie Pie, this Peanut Butter Pie, this Pumpkin Pie, this Pecan Pie, this Apple Pie, and this Pecan Pretzel Chocolate Pie


Ingredients for crust:
1 1/4 cups (155 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon (12 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) fine sea or table salt
1 stick (4 ounces or 115 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/4 cup (60 ml) very cold water, plus an additional tablespoon if needed

Ingredients for filling:
1 1/2 cups (120 grams) rolled oats
1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy cream
4 ounces (115 grams) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup (145 grams) packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt for corn syrup, just a pinch of salt for golden syrup
5 tablespoons (70 grams) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup (350 grams) golden syrup, or dark corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
4 large eggs

Start with your pie dough! By hand, with my one-bowl method: In the bottom of a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and sugar. Work the butter into the flour with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles a coarse meal and the largest bits of butter are the size of tiny peas. (Some people like to do this by freezing the stick of butter and coarsely grating it into the flour, but I haven’t found the results as flaky.) Add 1/4 cup cold water and stir with a spoon or flexible silicone spatula until large clumps form. Use your hands to knead the dough together, right in the bottom of the bowl. If necessary to bring the dough together, you can add the last tablespoon of water.

With a food processor: In the work bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt and sugar. Add butter and pulse machine until mixture resembles a coarse meal and the largest bits of butter are the size of tiny peas. Turn mixture out into mixing bowl. Add 1/4 cup cold water and stir with a spoon or flexible silicone spatula until large clumps form. Use your hands to knead the dough together, right in the bottom of the bowl. If necessary to bring the dough together, you can add the last tablespoon of water. Both methods: Wrap dough in a sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours, or you can quick-firm this in the freezer for 15 minutes. Longer than 2 days, it’s best to freeze it until needed.

On a floured counter, roll the dough out into a 12 to 13-inch circle-ish shape. Fold dough gently in quarters without creasing and transfer to a 9-inch standard (not deep-dish) pie plate. Unfold dough and trim overhang to about 1/2-inch. Fold overhang under edge of pie crust and crimp decoratively, if you'd like. If not parbaking, place in fridge until ready to fill. If parbaking, place in freezer for 20 minutes, until solid.

If you want to parbake the crust (optional, but will lead to a crispier base!) heat oven 400°F (205°C). Line the frozen crust with lightly buttered or oiled foil. Fill with pie weights, dried beans or if you're me, rice. Bake on a rimmed baking sheet for 20 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights and let cool completely before filling.

On to your filling! Spread oats on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool. To make the black bottom, bring the cream just to a boil over medium heat in a small saucepan. Pour in chocolate pieces and whisk until melted and smooth. Scrape the chocolate into the bottom of the cooled pie shell and spread evenly. Place in freezer while making the filling.

To make the oatmeal layer, in a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, ginger, salt, and melted butter. Add the corn syrup, vanilla, and cider vinegar and whisk to combine. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Stir in the cooled oats. Place chocolate-coated pie shell on a rimmed baking sheet and pour filling over.

Bake the pie at 350°F (175°C)For 55 to 70 minutes (I baked mine in 55, but every oven is different). The pie is done with the edges are set and puffed slightly and the center is slightly firm to the touch but still has a little give. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack, 2 to 3 hours. Serve slightly warm, at room temperature, or cold out of the fridge, if you're me.

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