Happy honeybees and sweet honey pi(e)
by Chef Deb Traylor
Since today is Pi Day (3.14), I thought it might be the perfect time to share this sweet little early spring recipe for Honey Pie. There are so many things that make my heart beat with excitement about Ginger and Baker; everything from the restoration of the old Feeder’s Supply building, to the addition of two unique restaurants, to our own farm located just a few miles away. And, as a food geek, one of the things that makes me happiest is the fact that we have ten beehives on that farm.
Something everyone may not know is that Ginger is a beekeeper and has maintained her hives for many years. It’s a wonderful thing because bees are vital to the farm's ecosystem. They help pollinate the many old and new fruit trees on the property, as well as the berry bushes and the vegetables we plant each spring and summer. While we’re not certified organic, we don't spray anything that might harm our favorite resident pollinators. We have happy bees! In fact, they’re so happy that last year Ginger harvested 350 pounds of honey!
I'm not sure anyone can visualize what 350 pounds of honey looks like, but if we were to use every drop of honey from last year’s harvest to make this particular Honey Pie... we would be able to make 622.22 pies. (Roughly everyone who “likes” us on Facebook would get a whole Honey Pie! And if you care to share, that would be 4,978 slices!)
While we can’t share our honey with everyone (yet)... we would like to share our favorite Honey Pie recipe that we’ve adapted from The Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book. It’s a sweet pie, but a dash of whiskey and few large flakes of sea salt help balance it for those of us who like things “less sweet”. And for those of you with a sweet tooth... you’re welcome!!
Happy Pi Day!
- In the recipe, honey is a main flavor, not just a sweetener. I think any variety of honey will work with the exception of Buckwheat honey, which I feel is too strong.
- I used a pinch of nutmeg but a teaspoon of lemon zest would be wonderful, too.
- If you don’t have vinegar, you can substitute lemon or lime juice.
Honey Pie with Sea Salt & Whiskey
(Adapted from The Four and Twenty Blackbird Pie Book)
- 1/2 recipe Ginger and Baker pie dough (see below) or one roll refrigerated pie dough
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 3/4 tsp. kosher or sea salt
- 1 Tbsp. cornmeal
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 3/4 cup local honey
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 3 Tbsp. bourbon, optional
- 1-2 tsp. flaked salt (such as Maldon or fleur de sel)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare the crust and chill thoroughly. On a lightly floured surface roll crust to approximately 1/8-inch thick and form it to fit an 8"- 9” inch pie pan. Roll the edges under and crimp or decorate with your finger or a fork. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes. Alternately, if using a refrigerated crust, unroll, place in pie pan, crimp edges and refrigerate until filling is ready.
In a medium bowl combine melted butter, sugar, cornmeal, salt, vanilla, honey and nutmeg and whisk until completely combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Whisk in cream, vinegar and whiskey.
Pour mixture into the unbaked pie shell, place pie pan on a rimmed sheet pan to catch any drips, and bake for 45-55 minutes. The pie will turn a deep golden brown and be barely set in the center when ready. Remove pie from the oven and allow to cool at room temperature for 3-4 hours. Sprinkle with salt before serving.
Basic Pie Dough
(you only use half of this recipe for the Honey Pie crust, but we suggest making the whole recipe and saving half for another pie!)
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 2 tsp. fine sea salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, chilled
- 1/4 cup Tbsp. non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, chilled (or 6 Tbsp. additional butter if not using shortening)
- 1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp. ice cold water
- 1 tsp. lemon juice or vinegar
Combine flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add chilled butter and shortening and toss to completely coat with flour. Using your hands or a fork, quickly smash the pieces of butter/shortening between your thumb and fingers to flatten each piece to the size of a dime. Gently stir the flour and butter to make sure you flattened most of the pieces.
Combine ice cold water and lemon juice (or vinegar), and drizzle half of the lemon water over cold flour mixture and stir until the dough just starts to come together or turns “shaggy”. We prefer to use our hands but a fork works nicely too. Begin adding a few more tablespoons of water at a time, stirring between each addition. Once most of the water has been used (but you have a tablespoon or two remaining) use your hands to gather the shaggy strands into a ball and knead the dough two or three times. If you have dry bits remaining in the bowl, add a little additional water. (Your dough may appear wet or dry depending the climate in your area, so you will need to go slowly and adjust accordingly.)
Gather the dough in a ball, dust your counter with a tiny amount of flour, and quickly pat dough into a small flat disk. Cut dough in half and then stack one piece on top of the other, flour side down. Use the heel of your hand and press the dough down and divide in half once more. Cover both pieces with plastic wrap. Chill the dough for at least 4 hours or overnight. This dough can be made a day or two in advance. Makes enough for two 8 or 9-inch pie crusts.