By the time we arrived at Four & Twenty Blackbirds on a Friday night, they already had some eight pies in the oven, and plenty more cooling on the racks. It was 7 p.m.
Fifteen minutes later, another set of pies were ready to go.
It’s safe to say that kitchen manager Rica Borich and Thomasin Alter know how to hustle. On an average Friday night, they churned out 105 pies between the hours of 3 p.m. and 11 p.m., and that is on the low end; some Fridays, they have to hit 130. Saturdays productions are similarly packed, and come Thanksgiving, the kitchen will be working around the clock; after all, all those pies are coming out of one oven.
Most of the dough mixing happens Wednesdays and Fridays; all the assembling, lattice-weaving, pie-filling happens at night. Oftentimes, it’s the same pies over and over again (notably: Four & Twenty’s decadent caramel apple pie). So if you thought being a baker was simply putting together a couple pies a day while bluebirds sing outside, think again. Check out the scenes below, from 7 p.m. onwards.
The bakery closes, and the remaining pies are divied up between workers or put away.
7:30 — 8 p.m.
Borich and Thomasin are already on their second batch of caramel apple pies. It begins with filling the crust with apples, piling on a scoop of caramel, creating the lattice top, and sprinkling with salt and spices.
The third round of caramel apple pies begin…
Thomasin Alter makes the next filling: a chocolate custard
Pies that have been baked since 3 p.m. sit cooling on a rack; the oven, in the meantime, has some four batches of pies baking away
Rita Borich makes another chocolate ganache filling, while Thomasin prepares more apple pie filling.
8:44 — 9 p.m.
Yet another set of caramel apple pies, while the first batch finishes up in the oven.
Oatmeal pies, in the making
Photos continue on the next page…
The refrigerator doubles as storage for pie crusts, a to-do list for bakers. And even if you’re not a baker, you’re constantly busy (as shown by the list “Barista Downtime Activites”).
The girls take a break to eat some dinner.
Then it’s back to work on the fourth batch of caramel apple pies.
Jason Romero begins cleaning the kitchen (he’s been washing dishes all night)
Meanwhile, extra caramel apple pies are set aside in the fridge, to be baked the next day.
10:22 — 10:41 p.m.
The last several batches of pies are assembled, before going into the oven.
10:44 — 11:15 p.m.
Thomasin packages the next day’s pre-orders in boxes and labels, and edits the chalkboard menus for the next day.
Meanwhile, Rica goes over the inventory and records instructions for the next day’s crew: What to bake when, etc.
The last batch of pies comes out of the oven and gets set to cool. The girls can finally go home, after 9 hours of constant baking.