I have been on a pie rampage lately when it comes to library books. In fact, I have 5 pie/baking related books out right now, and they are all open and scattered throughout the house. I have been looking for inspiration for new flavours, especially in this time of year when there isn’t a whole lot available for pies besides citrus.
A custard pie seems appropriate considering there are no fresh berries available for a while still, and the light floral notes of honey seem spring-y to me! I got the idea from the Four and Twenty Blackbirds salty honey pie, which seems to be super popular with their customers. I opted for buttermilk since I thought the acidity would cut through some of the sweetness, and followed their suggestion to sprinkle some Maldon on top once it came out of the oven for the same reason. The women behind this pie shop have some amazing skills, and I definitely recommend their book for technique, flavours and great pictures.
I think we are quite lucky around Kingston because there seems to be a number of small apiaries providing great quality local honey! I often buy this one, but I’m curious to try out others from around the county. There has been lots of stuff in the news in recent years about bees and how our sweet pollinating friends are at risk of going extinct. This is due to increased use of pesticides, changes in traditional farming practices and climate change, among other factors (read this article via NPR for more info). Supporting local apiaries who incorporate sustainable farming practices, avoid pesticides, and care for the well being of their bees is a small step towards protecting the future of the species as well as the crops that depend on their pollination.
honey buttermilk pie (vegetarian)
1 single crust pie dough
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg white mixed with 1 teaspoon water
maldon salt for topping
Roll out dough and place in a 9″ pie pan. Place it in the fridge to relax for about 20 minutes, then gently press it into the pan, cut off any excess and flute/crimp/style the edge as you please*. Place it in the freezer for at least one hour, and preheat the oven to 425F. Line the crust with parchment or tin foil, fill with pie weights or dried beans, and bake the crust for 15 minutes on the lowest rack. Remove the foil and weights and bake for 4-5 minutes until the bottom no longer looks greasy, then brush bottom and sides with egg white** and bake for another 3-4 minutes. Let cool. Reduce oven heat to 350. Mix melted butter, sugar and salt together until combined, then add honey, buttermilk, vanilla and remaining 3 eggs and whisk until smooth. Pour the mixture carefully into the par-baked shell, and place it back in the oven on the bottom rack for 30-35 minutes. Continue to bake until just set and wiggly.
* Build the edges thick and tall so there’s room for all the custard, and to help prevent the crust from shrinking during the blind bake.
** Another great tip from the Four and Twenty Blackbird ladies to keep the crust from getting soggy.
*** I kinda liked the golden look on the custard, but if you want to keep it light take it out of the oven as soon as it’s set and no longer liquidy.