I first made this sweet n’ salty Honey Pie at a little dinner party I held to celebrate the launch of Nigella Lawson’s last book, Simply Nigella. I reviewed the book and the Honey Pie in a now defunct blog – both the book and the pie received glowing praise from myself and my guests.
It’s been nearly two three since I first made it, but inspired by the fond memories of this divine sweet treat, I set about making another Honey Pie for the same guests (give or take). Thankfully it went down just as well the second time – and in the week since, I’ve made three further pies. My friends and colleagues might thank me, but their blood-sugar levels won’t be so appreciative.
The Honey Pie itself is a recipe simplified by Nigella from a Four and Twenty Blackbirds Bakery pie. I’d hankered after this pie since the domestic goddess herself posted about it on Instagram. I’ve since compared the recipes – you can find the original Honey pie on Nigella’s Cookbook Corner, or the link to her own recipe here. The main difference is the pastry. Having not made the original I can only comment on Nigella’s adaptation. Her olive oil pastry is simplicity itself. A quick whizz with a handheld mixer creates a rough, damp dough that you then just have to squish with your fingers into the sides of a flan tin. It’s all very rustic, but very forgiving.
The filling in both recipes is a honeyed iteration of a treacle tart, with a bit of polenta and the usual eggs, sugar and butter. It’s the addition of the sea salt flakes (in the pastry, filling and sprinkled on top) that elevate this pie from merely decent to divinely decadent.
In Nigella we trust.
The pastry base cook from a quick chill in the freezer, no blind baking! The filling is simply stirred ingredients. Even my pastry averse self can manage this one, which cooks perfectly crisp with a short texture. The pastry base doesn’t have the most even thickness, I suppose because it’s not been rolled. However in all four attempts I’ve had no disasters. I suppose if you wanted something a bit tidier you make (or buy) a more traditional shortcrust pastry to roll. The filling is a rich and smooth custard with an attractively caramelised skin. The medicinal notes of honey flatter but don’t overpower the custard. Make no mistake, the Honey Pie is a cloyingly sweet dessert. It is just about balanced by the generously sprinkled sea salt flakes and a splodge of creme fraiche, but it is still very sweet (!) and very cloying (!). When Nigella says to be mean with the portions, she isn’t being a greedy miser with her pie – its genuinely very good advice. Take heed.
If the above paragraphs haven’t convinced you to make this pie then I don’t know what will. Its incredible.