The thing about this pie is, its as much an egg custard tart as it is a salty honey pie. The honey doesn’t stand alone in this tart and is, in my opinion, far from the one and only cool cat at the pie party. When I first lay my eyes on the original Four and Twenty Blackbirds pie, and then Joy’s adaptation (sorry guys, I hope you don’t mind me squeezing in another version) and then most poignantly, Lottie and Doof’s variation, I was half expecting this pie to be a spin off of Momufuku’s crack pie. In truth, I thought the pie could be a guiltless version of the crack I tasted last December in NYC.
I was so wrong by the way; the eggy center has the slightest wobble, like the double pack of egg custard tarts perched on the counters for 60 pence in the supermarkets. The inclusion of honey gave it richness, an underlying depth that felt okay to eat for breakfast instead of a slice of honey on toast. Also, my family is big on halumi on toast with a drizzle of honey, so I guess that drew me in to the recipe too.
By now I’ve likened this thing to like, something absurd like baklava because I’m so convinced it has Mediterranean undertones (it well doesn’t). To further engrain this completely stupid concept, I added rosewater to the crust. It was okay to do this because I totally went a teaspoon too far on the salt scale - but even so, the faint hint of rose is welcome here.
I used diluted rosewater instead of the sticky pink rose syrup I’m used to drinking alongside a jug of water in Cyprus. Next time I’ll be using rose syrup instead of rose water and I’ll reduce the sugar to nuance the rosey-ness, so if you can get hold of that stuff, don’t be terrified of its garish pinkness and use it in the crust.
You are now either convinced that salt, honey and rose are a winning combo or you’ve been reading this blog for too long and have sussed out that I need to stop referring to the Mediterranean and cheap supermarket goods.
225g plain flour
75g caster sugar
150g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 tbsp rosewater
Salty Honey Filling
115g (1/2 cup) butter, melted
115g (1/2 cup) brown sugar
2 tsp polenta
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tsp salt
240g (3/4 cup) cup set honey
3 large eggs
130g (1/2 cup) double cream
2 tsp white wine vinegar
Notes: To make the checkerboard decoration, slice lengthways every 2cm and gently fold over every other piece of dough.
You will need: 22cm pie plate
Start with the pastry. Put the flour, sugar and cubed butter in a food processor and pulse until breadcrumbs form. Next, add the egg and egg yolk. Before it forms a ball, add the rosewater – add a little extra if it's dry. Pat the dough into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Lightly dust a clean surface and rolling pin with flour then roll the dough out into a circle large enough to cover the pie plate and roughly the thickness of a pound coin. You will have some excess, which you could use to cover a smaller plate (but you wont have any filling to put in it!), or freeze for a rainy day. Cover the plate with the dough and crimp or checkerboard the edges. Cover the plate and refrigerate for 2 hours, preferably overnight.
Prepare the filling and pie. Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F. Whisk together melted butter, sugar, polenta, vanilla bean paste and salt. Gradually add the honey until thickened and smooth. Next, add the eggs one by one, and then the cream and white vinegar. Safely pull the middle oven rack towards you and place the prepared pie plate on it. Gently pour the filling inside the pie. Depending on the style/size of your plate, the entire mixture should fill the plate, which is fine, as the mixture shrinks as it bakes. Bake for 50 minutes, until the top is browned and there is a slight wobble. Allow cooling at room temperature before tucking in or place the pie in the fridge to set. Will last for 5 days in the cold cube/fridge.
Love Em xx