Try this utterly addictive Salty Honey Pie recipe from the Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book.
My husband and I recently welcomed our baby daughter into the world, a beautiful bundle of joy who loves to sleep but who is still mastering the art of how to do it well. Some days are better than others, and some nights are better than others.
Despite the sleep deprivation that comes with a newborn, and not to mention the pre-existing sleep deprivation that comes with a sleep-walking toddler, my heart feels full and I am slowly adjusting to the chaos that is a family of four.
There is something about little babies and cute nicknames. Perhaps it is because it feels odd to ascribe an adult name to a new being who has not yet had time to grow into his or her moniker. Or perhaps it is because some babies are better suited to being called sugar plum than, say, Arnold.
My mother-in-law calls our son “petit crab” (little crab), to which he reciprocates by calling her simply “crab”. It may not impart the same level of affection but it nonetheless demonstrates that our son has a good grasp of adjectives.
A good friend of mine used to call her lovely and rounded son “sausages” until he started to only respond to “sausages” and never his real name, which can be rather embarrassing when you live in a country where sausages are the main form of protein.
As for me, I tend to use nicknames absentmindedly. If our baby girl is refusing to sleep unless we are holding her and gently lulling her to sleep while standing (not sitting), I find myself calling her “madame”. I’m not sure why, but it seems to suit a baby who is bossing me around.
At other times, especially right after a feed when she is giving sweet, contented smiles in her milk-induced coma, I like to call her “honey pie”.
I’m sure I use this term of endearment with my son as well, but it’s a nickname which I have used for years without much thought until recently when Nigella Lawson posted a photo of a honey pie on her Instagram account. An actual honey pie. It never occurred to me that such a thing really existed. And the honey pie that Nigella was referring to was, in fact, a salty honey pie. Could anything sound more heavenly?
Soon after Nigella’s post, the salty honey pie was trending on Instagram and, before I knew it, I had purchased The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book from which the recipe for this addictive pie originates.
A honey pie is essentially a tart filled with a custard sweetened with honey, and baked until it is set with the merest hint of a wobble. What makes this honey pie simply divine is the generous sprinkling of sea salt upon serving, perfectly offsetting the honeyed sweetness of the custard. Move over salted caramel … salted honey is the flavour du jour.
My only disappointment with this recipe is that my attempts so far have yielded less than professional-looking results. On my first try, my pastry didn’t keep its shape upon baking and even shrunk a little in the pan. Admittedly, I didn’t quite understand the recipe for making the pastry, which instructs you to add half a cup of ice to the pastry. Ice? Is that meant to be crushed ice or cubes of ice? Is the ice meant to be mixed into the pastry mixture, or is it to simply help keep the water cold? I was a bit confused about the role of the ice, so I left it out completely, which might explain why my pastry looked a bit shabby after baking.
On my second attempt, I froze the pastry-lined pie dish to compensate for the absence of ice, but this produced an even more rustic-looking pie that my husband tucked into it without even asking if I would be bothering to photograph it.
By my third attempt where I decided to blind-bake the pastry first, our arteries were starting to work overtime and I still could not produce a photogenic pie. My guess is that this is one of those recipes which works great in a commercial kitchen and when made by a professional pastry cook, or, in my case, it could be due to baby brain.
I daresay one might get better results by using a metal pie dish to achieve a crisper pie crust, so that will be my next avenue of experimenting. However, I have since discovered that it is recommend to use glass pie dishes so that you can see if the pastry is cooked through ot not.
The recipe for the custard filling is also a bit odd in that it calls for granulated sugar (not caster or superfine sugar) and cornmeal, but then goes on to instruct the cook to strain the custard through a fine sieve before filling the pastry shell. Needless to say, most of the cornmeal is unable to pass through the sieve because it is not an ingredient which dissolves in the uncooked custard, and the same can be said for the granulated sugar.
Has anyone else tried this recipe? Any tips or tricks?
Despite the hiccups in getting this pie to look like the photo in the cookbook, it tastes absolutely delicious. Knowing now how a honey pie actually tastes, I think it is the perfect term of endearment; in my case, it’s perfect even for someone a bit rough around the edges.
For some ideas or tips on how to crimp the pastry edges, here is a helpful video from Martha Stewart:Print
Salty Honey Pie
Recipe adapted from The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book by Emily Elsen & Melissa Elsen
- Prep Time: 60 mins
- Cook Time: 50 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
- Yield: Serves 8 to 12
For the All-Butter Crust
- 190 g (1 1/4 cup) plain flour
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 110 g (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2 inch (2 cm) pieces
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) cold water
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup ice
For the filling
For the All- Butter Crust
- Measure the flour, salt and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Use the flat paddle attachment to slowly mix the ingredients together.
- Add the cubes of butter and beat on low speed until the mixture resembles crumbly, wet sand.
- Measure the water, vinegar and ice into a small measuring jug. The ice is to keep the liquid ingredients very cold and is not to be added to the pastry.
- Very slowly pour the liquid ingredients into the flour mixture (but keep the ice out of the mixture), and beat slowly until the mixture comes together into a ball of dough. You may not need all of the liquid (I usually only need about half, but much depends on the type of flour you use).
- Shape the dough into a flat disc.
- Roll out the dough between two sheets of baking paper, into a large round which will fit your pie dish with some overhang.
- Using a rolling pin, transer the pastry to the pie dish, and press the pastry into the pie dish. At this stage, do not remove any excess pastry.
- Place the pie dish into the fridge for at least 1 hour.
- Remove the pie dish from the fridge and crimp the edges to your liking. Remove any excess pastry.
- Place the pie dish into the freezer for at least a few hours, or up to 1 month.
For the Salty Honey Pie
- Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F).
- Place a metal baking tray in the middle shelf of the oven.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients for the filling, except for the Maldon sea salt flakes.
- Carefully transfer the pie dish to the metal tray in the oven, and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the filling is set and edges of the pastry are lovely and golden. To test if the filling has set, I give the pie dish a bit of jiggle to see if the filling in centre wobbles at all.
- Allow the pie to cool completely on a wire rack.
- Sprinkle with Maldon sea salt flakes just before serving.
- I think this pie is best served warm or at room temperature. It keeps well on a cake stand covered with a glass lid for a few days.
All recipes on this website state temperatures for a regular oven (i.e. a conventional oven without fan). If you have a convection oven with a fan, please consult the manufacturer’s handbook on how to adjust the temperature and baking time accordingly.
To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.
- Serving Size: Nutritional info per slice
- Calories: 351
- Sugar: 32.7g
- Sodium: 323.4mg
- Fat: 18.1g
- Carbohydrates: 45.4g
- Fiber: 0.5g
- Protein: 3.6g
- Cholesterol: 91.9mg