Baking | The Life of Pi …. err…Pie Bird & A Strawberry Pie

“If you don’t let technology help you, if you resist good ideas, you condemn yourself to dinosaurhood.”
Yann Martel, Life of Pi

Strawberry Pie ... & a pie bird A Strawberry Pie and a Pie Bird. Strange how good things happen at the same time. Around the week that the Life of Pi won an Oscar, the folk from Zansaar sent me something very interesting … a beautiful aubergine stoneware baking dish with an intriguing creature inside. They call it a Pie Bird!

Strawberry Pie ... & a pie bird Have you heard of one?  To be honest, I had no clue that such a charming creature actually existed. Google enlightened! From whimsical banter from when we used to chime “Four & twenty black birds baked in a pie” as toddlers, to Alton Brown who wholeheartedly endorses the pie bird, it seems to be quite a handy bakers tool. Many ardent pie bakers swear by it.

pie birdWhat might a pie bird be? It’s a little hollow contraption made of ceramic, that helps keep a pie base from getting soggy. It also prevents it from boiling over, sometimes even saving a pie from dramatically exploding!

A pie bird, pie vent, pie whistle, pie funnel, or pie chimney is a hollow ceramic device, originating in Europe, shaped like a funnel, chimney, or upstretched bird with open beak. Funnel-style steam vents have been placed in the center of fruit and meat pies during cooking since Victorian times; bird shapes came later.

Strawberry Pie ... & a pie bird Pie funnels were used to prevent pie filling from boiling up and leaking through the crust by allowing steam to escape from inside the pie. They also supported the pastry crust in the center of the pie, so that it did not sag in the middle, and are occasionally known as “crustholders”. Older ovens had more problems with uniform heating, and the pie bird prevented boil-over in pie cooking.

Strawberry Pie ... & a pie bird Fancy my delight when I received it as also the beautiful aubergine pie dish from the Mason Cash collection. It’s a handy dish to bake a classic apple pie, or maybe a chicken / vegetable pie. The high quality stoneware dish has a wide lip that  makes it ideal for pie crusts while the stoneware construction ensures that it heats evenly.

Strawberry Pie ... & a pie bird I enjoyed ‘playing with it’. It gave me much food for thought, Life of Pi and pie bird quotes flying through my head. You see, at the same time, the younger teen was doing a film review on the Life of P. There was plenty of Pi / Pie happening!

Strawberry Pie ... & a pie bird I wanted to make an apple pie but I had my last stash of red luscious strawberries from the recent Pune trip. I thought a strawberry pie just might work. It did and the pie baked up beautifully. Once completely cool, it stepped out of the dish gingerly with no trouble at all. It’s a good size baking dish for a meal for two, or maybe part of a meal for four.

Strawberry Pie ... & a pie bird I was in a hurry to slice the pie so the juices ‘leaked’ a bit. It sliced just fine a while later! The dough is a normal short crust that I substituted with a little cornmeal. Cornmeal works really well in all my galettes. This was my first double crust pie. It worked great. A classic American apple pie served with vanilla ice cream seems likely in the future!

Strawberry plum galetteI had some leftover dough, and about 1/2 a cup of left over filling. Could I just let it sit? Of course I couldn’t. The leftovers made a neat little galette which included one left over plum from an earlier baking project. The galette was crisp and full of fruity goodness. A drizzle of unsweetened single cream … delicieux!

Strawberry Pie ... & a pie bird

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

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About me: I am a freelance food writer, recipe developer and photographer. Food is my passion - baking, cooking, developing recipes, making recipes healthier, using fresh seasonal produce and local products, keeping a check on my carbon footprint and being a responsible foodie! I enjoy food styling, food photography, recipe development and product reviews. I express this through my food photographs which I style and the recipes I blog. My strength lies in 'Doing Food From Scratch'; it must taste as good as it looks, and be healthy too. Baking in India, often my biggest challenge is the non-availability of baking ingredients, and this has now become a platform to get creative on. I enjoy cooking immensely as well.


  1. Am loving that little birdie and it reminds me of the two deep pie dishes I had and used them as bird baths in my garden for years :-) One of them broke but one is still there, I have got better bid baths now.
    Beautiful pie dish and such a lovely pie you baked with those yummy strawberries..

  2. Oh Deeba, this is so pretty – well the pie bird is clever and adorable but you certainly don’t need gadgets to make a gorgeous and tempting pie! The filling looks amazing! I also need to take a cue from you and start freezing seasonal berries!

  3. Happy Pi Day, Deeba! The lil birdie is just so cute! And the galette, you know i’ve been yearning for some galette, and your post magically appears:-) It is giving me the right push for more baking weekend:)
    jehanne@thecookingdoctor´s last blog post ..Celebrating my cookbooks release! Matcha Chocolate MacaronsMy Profile

  4. Pistachios are a great addition. YUM
    Colette @ JFF!´s last blog post ..Homegrown: Herbed Feta & Fresh Tomato PastaMy Profile

  5. My mum has one of those birds and it’s coloured like an English blackbird – black with a yellow beak. I’m very jealous you’ve got enough strawberries to bake a pie with them!

  6. I love your blog, such beautiful pictures and gorgeous recipes.

  7. Another fantabulous recipe with drool worthy clicks
    Deepali Jain´s last blog post ..Boondi Raita | A Recipe Always in DemandMy Profile

  8. I was holding a little blue pie bird just yesterday. Darn I should have picked it up.
    belllii´s last blog post ..Crispy Black Cod Fillets with Fennel Tzatziki and Lemony Orzo RisottoMy Profile

  9. Oh, I want that pretty bird! Your pie is fabulous. A taste of spring… I can’t wait to bake with strawberries again!



  10. I bought a cute little red bird from Creuset. Like it a lot. Nice pie.
    Helene´s last blog post ..Friday Favourites: The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe & Finally… Food I Can Eat GiveawayMy Profile


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