As someone who most recently had “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” stuck in her head, I was relieved to realise that there is a (somewhat) more mature song that goes with this post: “Honey Pie” by the Beatles. You can thank me, or curse me, later. As Hannah has already proven, having a soundtrack to eat by is a crucial part of the experience.
I’d go a step further and say having a book to eat by is also important. After all, it’s one of the questions we love to ask our interviewees. I suspect we at Fork & Fiction secretly judge a person’s worth based on whether or not they eat while they read. Prejudiced, yes, but it is in our name…
All this is to say we are thrilled to be celebrating Hannah’s newest book accomplishment (a.k.a literary baby #2) throughout April and posting recipes, stories and other tidbits inspired by Season of Salt and Honey. (Have you seen the stunning cover yet?) So I set about trying to find a recipe with salt and honey and also a certain something–a charm and grace that matched Hannah’s eloquent writing–and I flipped through to Salty Honey Pie and knew I’d found it. The ingredient parallels are obvious, but beyond that, the contradictions of this pie fit perfectly. It’s rustic but refined, sweet but with that bracing salty note to balance it. This pie is more than the sum of its parts, a honey + vanilla +cream combination that equals caramel custard heaven in a pie crust. Something familiar but also unexpected.
[Foodie tip tangent: Store your vanilla beans in a jar of vodka! It’s amazing! Okay, I know not everyone has this many vanilla beans in their house at once. I was most fortunate a few years ago to have a direct source of Madagascar vanilla beans and I’ve been slowly going through them since. (Tip # 2: make friends with someone who can send you vanilla beans from source.) But if you do have a few, or more, lying around, pop them in a jar of alcohol–they’ll stay moist and plump and will also make you a jar of vanilla-flavoured vodka (aka vanilla extract).]
Anyway, this pie comes from The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book, beautiful, quirky recipes from a pie shop run by two sisters in Brooklyn, New York. (Another foodie haven to add to my pilgrimage list.)
So three cheers for Hannah’s book, for pie-eating, and all the sweetness that comes with it!
Salty Honey Pie
Adapted very slightly from The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book
1 single 9-inch pie crust of your choice, par-baked or unbaked and frozen
1/4 pound unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 vanilla bean, scraped out, or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup liquid honey
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 to 2 teaspoons flake sea salt, for finishing
Preheat the oven to 375 F and position a rack in the centre.
In a medium bowl, stir together the melted butter, sugar, cornmeal, salt and vanilla. Stir in the honey and eggs one at a time, then the cream and vinegar.
Place the pie shell on a rimmed baking sheet and strain the filling through a fine-mesh sieve directly into the shell. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 45 to 50 minutes, rotating 180 degrees when the edges start to set. The pie is finished when the edges are puffed up high and the centre is no longer liquid but looks set like gelatin and is golden brown on top. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack, 2 to 3 hours. Sprinkle with sea salt. Serve at room temperature.