This is adapted from the Salty Honey Pie from the Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book. I haven’t fiddled much with the ur-version – why mess with perfection? – but mine does have an easier-to-make, no-roll, press-in pie crust, a pastry for those with (apologies to Mel Brooks) Pie Anxiety. I am grateful for the inspiration: this is quite one of my favourite pies of all time.
I find the saltiness here tempers the rich, honeyed sweetness, but if you prefer to embrace its intensity head on, reduce the salt in the filling to 1 teaspoon. But in either case, it’s essential you use sea salt flakes, not pouring salt.
For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.
Makes: 14 slicesMETRICCUPS
FOR THE PASTRY
- 225 grams plain flour
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 125 millilitres mild and light olive oil
- 60 millilitres full fat milk
FOR THE PIE FILLING
- 100 grams soft unsalted butter
- 150 grams caster sugar
- 1 x 15ml tablespoon fine polenta (not instant) or cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons maldon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- 175 millilitres good runny honey
- 3 large eggs
- 150 millilitres double cream
- 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
TO SPRINKLE ON TOP
¼ teaspoon maldon salt
You will need 1 x 23cm deep-sided (approx 5cm deep) / 1 x 10-inch deep-sided (approx 2 inches deep) loose-bottomed flan tin
- First, mix the flour, salt, oil and milk to form a rough, slightly damp, dough. You can do this by hand or at low speed in a freestanding mixer.
- Tip out into your flan tin, and press patiently over the base and a little up the sides of the tin. I find a mixture of fingers, knuckles and the back of a spoon the easiest way to go. Put into the freezer for at least 1 hour. I tend to do this the day before, but in any event, you bake from frozen.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/gas mark 4/350°F and pop in a baking sheet at the same time.
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Take it off the heat and leave to stand for 5 minutes, then beat in the sugar, polenta or cornmeal, 2 teaspoons of maldon salt and the vanilla paste or extract.
- When all the above ingredients are incorporated, stir in the runny honey – oiling the bowl or jug you’re measuring it in first – and beat in the eggs, followed by the cream and vinegar.
- Take the pastry-lined flan tin out of the freezer and pour the runny honey mixture into the case, then place on the baking sheet in the oven to bake for 45-50 minutes, turning it around after 30, at which time it will still seem very uncooked. When it’s ready, it will be a burnished bronze on top, puffy at the edges and set in a soft jellied way in the middle (and it carries on setting as it cools).
- Remove to a wire rack, sprinkle with the ¼ teaspoonful of maldon salt, and leave to cool – this will take about 2 hours. I like this best when properly cold.
- To unmould easily, sit the flan tin on top of a large jar or tin and let the ring part fall away, then transfer the liberated pie to a plate or board. I manage to get the pie off the flan base easily, but if you feel safer leaving the metal base on, then do. Slice modestly – this is rich and sweet, and you will want leftovers for yourself – and serve with clotted cream or creme fraiche.