Some people use them and some don’t. I’m in the later group. Pie birds have been around for some time now…at least since the Victorian era. Their purpose? To provide a vent in a pie for the steam so the filling inside doesn’t boil up or leak through the crust. One older book I have, “The Mystery Chef’s Own Cookbook” (1934), by John MacPherson, uses an inverted cup, or small cream pitcher, which “acts as a bridge to hold up the pastry in the center of the pie, and it also draws up the juices in a way that will astonish those who do not know this old country tip.”
Some say they can get the birds to whistle. Can you? Pie whistle is another name for them, along with pie funnel, pie vent, and pie chimney. Having one whistle would astonish me, and maybe The Mystery Chef, too.
Now, back to that boiling filling. I’ve not really seen the use for a pie bird, other than enjoy my wee collection of them, as I do like a bit of that filling oozing out of my pie vents and around the edge of my crust. None other than Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) says in his essay on Apple Pie, “…the merest drip of candied juice along the edges (as if the flavor were so good to itself that its own lips watered!). What an image that is!
Here are the pie birds that sit on the mantel above my wood stove.
And, now there is another to join them. Yesterday, one was hand delivered to me. I unwrapped her and couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear…like her!
Her name is Pie Angel. I’ve been keeping her close by me as I work today….in the kitchen, at the table, by the computer. Whenever I look, she is always smiling. I think this sweet angel and I are going to be very good friends.