Today I was supposed to be in Connecticut, or in a grand apartment in the city, or in a warm home five minutes from my own. Every day I’m grateful for the fact that I have friends, life-long beloveds, who welcome me into their home. I’m never made to feel like a guest, the place for me is always set as if I’m one of their own, and this humbles me.
Yet, today I chose to be home, alone. Alone, but not lonely. I’ve been operating on volume ten for the past few weeks, and my body is telling me that it needs quiet. The kind of quiet where a morning yoga class, midday feasting and a sweet, salty pie, will only do.
You have to know that this pie is EVERYTHING. Over the past decade I’ve made scores of pies and crumbles — from towering chocolate pumpkin mousse to a velvet banana cream confection to a humble triple-apple pie, but I have to say this is one of the best I’ve ever made. Never did I think that I’d go in for something so seemingly plain — I mean, HONEY? — but trust me, this pie is the gift that keeps on giving.
Make this now. Right now.
INGREDIENTS: Filling courtesy of The Four + Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book: Uncommon Recipes from the Celebrated Brooklyn Pie Shop; the pie crust recipe is my own
Note: Have the pastry-lined pie pan frozen and ready before you begin.
For the pie shell: Makes 2 shells, you’ll only need one for this recipe; the other you can freeze
2 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 sticks (1/2 cup) cold butter, chopped into cubes
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cane sugar
1/2 cup ice cold water
For the filling
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon white cornmeal (I used almond meal, as I had it on hand)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla paste (For the life of me I couldn’t locate this, so I used almond paste instead, and it was fine)
3/4 cup honey
3 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 to 2 teaspoons flake sea salt, for finishing
Start with the pie shell. In a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, mix the flour, sugar, and salt until combined. Pile the butter on top of the flour and pulse ten times. The dough should have a coarse meal texture. Through the funnel tube, slowly pour in the water, and mix for no more than thirty seconds. The dough should come together. Divide in half and wrap with cling film, forming two disks. For this recipe, chill one of the shells for an hour, and freeze the one you won’t be using.
After an hour, roll out the dough on a lightly-floured surface, and place the shell into a 9inch pie dish. Place the dish in the freezer while you prepare the filling.
Position a rack in the center of the oven; preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium bowl, stir together melted butter, sugar, cornmeal, salt and vanilla paste. Stir in honey and eggs, one at a time, followed by the cream and vinegar.
Place the frozen pie shell on a rimmed baking sheet. Strain the filling through a fine-mesh sieve directly into the pie shell.
Bake on the middle rack 45 to 50 minutes, rotating 180 degrees when the edges start to set, about 30 to 35 minutes through the baking time. The pie is finished when the edges are set and puffed up high, the center is no longer liquid, but looks set, like gelatin, and is golden brown on top.
Let cool completely on a wire rack, 2 to 3 hours. Sprinkle with flake sea salt. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. The pie will keep refrigerated for 4 days or at room temperature for 2 days.