In doing some online cookbook browsing a little while ago, I came across this pie book:
Naturally, that led me to look up the eponymous Brooklyn pie shop: Four & Twenty Blackbirds. And I have been living in a constant state of jealousy ever since. Emily and Melissa Elsen are two sisters who set up shop four years ago (in fact, today is the shop’s 4 year anniversary!). They were named Artisans of the Year by Time Out NY in 2011, and they’ve been featured in Martha Stewart Living and on the Cooking Channel. They are basically living my dream and I hate them and I love them and I want to be them and goodnessgracious yummy pie.
After I discovered them, I started following the shop on Instagram and I really can’t get enough of all the pie-baking pictures they post. The cookbook has been sitting in my Amazon shopping cart for the past month. I am trying to exercise self-restraint and resist buying it until I’ve made more progress through the three pie cookbooks I already own. But this past weekend, I went and looked up their recipe for Salty Honey Pie online because it just sounded sooooo good. Clearly the self-restraint isn’t really working; I should just buy the book already.
That preamble is all to say: I made Four & Twenty Blackbirds’ Salty Honey Pie! And this post is about sharing that recipe with you lovely people. Here goes…
1/2 cup butter melted
3/4 cup white sugar
2 Tbsp cornmeal
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup cream
2 tsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla paste
1 or 2 Tbsp flake sea salt for finishing (Maldon is a good choice)
A note on the ingredients – the original recipe specified white cornmeal and white vinegar. I didn’t have either but I had yellow cornmeal and cider vinegar. Since the amounts are not huge, I just substituted and I really don’t think it affected the finished product. I also think you could get away with substituting vanilla extract for paste, but you might have to adjust the amounts.
Much like the Lemon Lime Chess Pie I made a couple weeks ago, this is a custard based pie. That means sugar, butter and eggs feature heavily, so yeah, it’s gonna taste good. This one adds honey, so yeah, it’s gonna be sweet.
The preparation is very straightforward which means the pictures of the process are not terribly interesting, so here are four images that look nearly identical showing the progression as I combined the ingredients:
Combine the sugar, cornmeal, 1/4 tsp salt and melted butter (upper right image). Add the honey, vanilla and vinegar and mix together.
When I basically doubled the sweetness factor by combing equal parts honey and sugar, I realized just how sweet this pie was gonna be: SUPER sweet. It is not for the faint of heart. Or diabetics.
Fold in the eggs and add the cream and the filling is ready to go (bottom right image (See? Not very interesting pictures)).
The recipe calls for a blind-baked crust. I used my favorite pie crust recipe, which is not very different from the Elsen sisters’ version. After eating the finished product, I thought the crust was a little overdone. I think in the future, I will only partially blind-bake the crust (as I did with the Lemon Lime Chess), so that the crust doesn’t get overcooked when baking the filling.
Anyhoo, pour the crust into the prepared, slightly cooled crust.
See? That crust is like 100% cooked already and I’m about to put it back in the oven to become at least 150% cooked.
Bake at 350F for 45-60 minutes. The filling will puff up and be slightly wobbly in the center. Mine got pretty brown on top, too. If you want it to be less brown on top, I’d cover it with foil for part of the cooking time. Here it is straight out of the oven:
Let it cool for at least an hour and then sprinkle the top with sea salt flakes. I really love sweet/salty combinations, so I went on the heavier side with my salt, but you can use as much or as little as you choose. Although, if you go really light, then I think you’re missing the point of the Salty Honey Pie.
I had some people over on Saturday night and served this for dessert. The general consensus? YUMMY. It was super duper sweet, but the salt helps to cut the intense sugary flavor. The texture is smooth and creamy and lovely. Apart from the aforementioned crust issues, I thought it was pretty durn good.
Four & Twenty Blackbirds clearly knows what it’s about, and I’m eager to give some of their other recipes a shot. Just gotta buy that book…