Friday, September 6, 2013

Salted Rose & Honey Pie


Before I dive into talking about honey at length, I just wanted to say that our wedding brought me more joy than I could have ever hoped for. My only regret was not being able to spend more time in Oregon with my family afterwards. But such is the working life! Once I get the photos from our photographer, though, I'll put together a nice post about it. But for now, upwards and onwards!


About a month ago I hosted a honey harvest event with Kinfolk magazine up in the mountains in the outskirts of the Los Angeles area at a small apple orchard. I've always been intrigued by bees, but my love/obsession with them didn't truly begin until I read this book by William Longgood. He writes at length about bees and their hive structure and hierarchy in a way that clearly conveys how remarkably complex it all really is. For example, did you know that when a worker bee finds a new source of pollen, she flies back to the hive and does a "dance" in which she precisely communicates the exact distance and direction of the new source? You can read more info about how crazy-detailied this exercise in communication here, but they're basically able to talk to each other in this way, which is really mind-blowing when you think about how complex the art of communication is and how teensy-tiny their bee brains are.


Orange blossom honey on the left, avocado blossom honey on the right.
Back to the event: we had some local beekeepers come out, and they brought some of their hive along with them and explained the basics of beekeeping and how honey is made. Basically, bees suck up nectar from flowers and bring the nectar back to the hive. The nectar is chewed up by the bees and during this process they seep their own special enzymes into it that make it more anti-micorbial, so that it extends the "shelf-life" of the honey. They then put the honey in their wax combs and let it dry until it thickens (sometimes they speed up this process and fan it with their wings), and then they seal it up within the comb with more wax. And similar to the way different edible plants have different flavors, the flowers of those plants have different flavored nectar, as well. So while honey will always taste sweet, the delicate flavors of the honey will vary depending on the plants the nectar was drawn from. For example, in the photo above the dark honey was made entirely from the nectar from flowering avocado trees, and it has a richer more brown sugar-y flavor to it than the orange blossom honey to the left, which is more light and floral.



So of course, I ended up buying 8 bottles of honey (4 orange blossom & 4 avocado blossom) at the orchard and found myself brainstorming about all the tasty things I could make with this insanely good raw honey. I decided to look into a pie my mom had mentioned seeing at a bakery in Portland, and googled "salted honey pie" to see what I could find. The result was this recipe from the Four & Twenty Blackbirds bakery in Brooklyn, NY. I altered the recipe a bit to incorporate the rose water and added some more corn meal, but the jist of it is the same. A tasty, sweet honey custard filling with a sprinkling of salt over the top. You could use flake salt, but I used my pink himalayan salt because I liked that the color gave a bit of a hint at the rosy flavors that were waiting inside.



After the first taste, I immediately fell in love with this pie, and upon sharing it with friends the most popular response was ".....This is the best pie I have EVER. HAD."

So I definitely feel like this one's a winner.

There's just something crazy-good about the sweet custard combined with the floral flavors and the salty crunch of the top crust. I've never had rose flavor combined with salt before, but my God, I am going to combine them for always after eating this pie. Please go make this, you will bring a whole new flavor combination into your life and be so, sooo happy about it.


Also, I've been doing a little housekeeping around the blog and after several months of effort, I have FINALLY updated and restructured the Index of my blog so you can choose to view recipes by type or season. I've also updated my About Me with a picture of what I actually look like, (although I still have a special fondness for my tiny door photo), and called Jeremy my husband for the first time. Going to be a while before I stop accidentally calling him my fiancé in conversation, though. (Sorry, Jeremy. Old habits die hard!)

But enough about blog housekeeping...go make some pie!




Ingredients:

Rose Crust

2 and 1/4 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup butter, cold and hard
1 tablespoon rose water
4-7 tablespoons ice water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg (for glaze)
1 teaspoon water (for glaze)


Salted Rose & Honey Filling

3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons corn meal
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons rose water
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
1/2 cup cream

Salt For Sprinkling

2-3 teaspoons pink Himalayan sea salt, depending on how salty you like it


First make the pie crust. Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. You have two options when adding the butter. 1) You could cut the butter into pea-sized pieces over the bowl. But this method usually means holding the butter in your hand which will warm it up, thus making less cold-induced flakiness. Or 2) You could cut the stick into general 2-inch cubes on a cutting board, add the butter cubes to the bowl and toss them to coat in the dry ingredients (this helps protect them from the warm air) and use this dough scraper to chop the butter cubes into smaller bits that are roughly pea-sized. This method is better because it keeps the butter colder longer. Add the rosewater, then begin adding the tablespoons of ice water while stirring gently. Grab a handful of the mixture and squeeze. If it generally sticks together when you let go, it is fine. If it completely crumbles apart, it needs a bit more water.

Roll it out into a 1 cm thick circle onto a well-greased and well-floured surface. Place it in the pie pan, trim excess crust, and cut out designs with a cookie cutter to place around the edge of the crust (optional). Secure the decorations by putting a spot (about 1/4 teaspoon) of melted butter on the back of the decorative dough piece and pressing down gently when placing it on the crust's edge. Cover and place the crust shell in the refrigerator until use.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the eggs and cream until smooth. Set aside. Combine the butter, sugar, salt, and cornmeal until well blended. Add the rose water, honey, vanilla, and vinegar and mix  until combined, then fold in the egg mixture until incorporated.


In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water until blended, then brush the pie crust edges with the egg mixture. Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust and bake in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the top turns golden but the filling is slightly wiggly. Remove the pie from the oven and allow to sit at room temperature for 2 hours. Sprinkle the 2-3 teaspoons of salt over the pie and serve immediately. Note that this is not a firm and very eggy custard, and the filling will be very soft.



63 comments:

  1. Eva, I'm so incredibly happy for you! Congratulations and I can't wait to hear/see more about the celebrations :)
    Secondly, you're living my dream! Kinfolk is so lovely and I would love to work with them one day...how did you begin your involvement with them?
    The whole story and process behind this pie is just as beautiful as the outcome itself. It's such a pleasure to read your posts.

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    1. Thank you so much Irina! I am so very happy, I could not have asked for a more perfect day :) And yessss Kinfolk! I love them so much. I sent them an email through their website, I think there was a portion where you could contact them if you were interested in hosting an event. I highly recommend getting in touch with them, hosting an event with them is so much fun! And I am so glad you enjoyed this post and the pie :) It was one of my favorite pies I've ever made, but I'm a sucker for anything with custard haha.

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  2. Oh, yay for your wonderful wedding! And I love the sound of this pie, very different to what I've ever had - decadent in a really interesting way, and gorgeous too with your decorating skills.

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  3. Girl, this is SO up my alley. When I try this I will let you know. Loving your bee pics!

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    1. Aw thank you Sheila! Yes, please let me know how you like it :) I think it is my new favorite pie!

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  4. This pie is gorgeous! And such a fabulous, unique, flavour. I love the rose water in there! My (soon to be) father in law has a few bee hives at his house and harvest time is my favorite. Honey from home is the best!!

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    1. Oh yum!!! That is so awesome that your father in law keeps hives, I hope to keep some someday when I have a nice big yard. There's nothing like the taste of raw honey. So delicious!

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  5. This looks so decadent and simple and delicious, thanks for sharing! And p.s. I adore your site. I've been a reader for awhile, but this is my first note. Your photos are gorgeous + words equally so. Thanks for putting your creativity out into the world. :)

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    1. Thank you so, very much Stephanie. That is so thoughtful and kind of you to say, and I am so happy you enjoy my little home here :)

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  6. Congratulations! I'm a newlywed too :-) I am also dairy free (among other things) how well do you think goats milk would work in this? The pie sounds absolutely delightful.thanks for sharing!

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    1. Awww congrats to you as well! I think that goats milk would work very well here, the subtle tang would go with the salty sweet custard quite nicely, almost like a salty cajeta :)

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  7. Mmmh! This cake looks very delicious and also autumnal with the maple leaves around it. Unfortunately I don't have rose water and corn meal in stock. All the other ingredients would be in my pantry, even the pink Himalayan salt. What do you think? Can I use wheat meal instead and drop the rose water?

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    1. Definitely, using wheat meal or flour instead of the corn meal would work just fine, and if you're not using the rosewater than you could subtract 1 tablespoon of the flour meal from the recipe since there will be less moisture to counter-balance it. Let me know how it comes out for you! :)

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  8. Eva this post is just perfect - beautiful, informative, and a must-try recipe!

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  9. I've never tried salted rose flavours, sounds delicious.
    The photos are beautiful Eva, and I love your ornaments on a pie. Such an attention to detail.
    And the honey bottles are so beautiful.

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    1. Thank you Magda! I love those honey bottles, too. The woman who sells the honey said that the bottles were based on an old 1800's bottle design. I love that they're reusable, too.

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  10. What a stunning post - the pie sounds beyond divine and I can't wait to try it! Thanks for creating such beauty - Patricia

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    1. Awww thank you so much Patricia! Let me know how you like it :)

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  11. I really wish I could ave a taste...

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    1. Don't hesitate to make some, it's worth the effort! :)

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  12. This pie sounds absolutely incredible, and the photos are stunning! I can practically taste that gooey, salty, flowery filling. Congratulations on your nuptials and blog-keeping - love the new photo. Our orange kitties could be brothers, they look so similar. (My friend said about orange cats in particular, "they are like neurotic little people." So true.)

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    1. Haha! Yes! That sounds exactly like my cat. He's terrified of garbage bags for some reason, whenever I whoosh one open to put in the cat he always runs and hides under the coffee table. Poor neurotic little kitty. And thank you so much! The pie tasted so, so good. I'm definitely going to be making it again at Thanksgiving this year :)

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  13. Eva! This pie is incredible! Floral flavors scare me, but this is a really approachable first foray into them. Your bee photos are stunning. I wish I could take a good camera to the field when I see all my bees, but I'm all business out there, you know? What does that avocado honey taste like? I got an email a few weeks back from people at UC Davis who are trying to develop a honey flavor wheel. I've had very limited experience with other types of honey, so that really fascinates me. I'm so glad your wedding was so wonderful. Can't wait to hear more about it!

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    1. Thanks so much Brianne! I think the biggest issue with floral flavors is that sometimes people put too much of them into sweets, and then they end up tasting almost like a perfume. The rose flavor is there in this pie, but it's not overwhelming, and the rich custard helps mute it a bit so its nice and soft. Definitely a good intro dish to floral flavors. And I am so glad you liked the bee photos! I had an amazing time trying out my macro lens on them, they;re such beautiful creatures. I could imagine it would be very difficult to trek all the way out to your various posts in the field with the heavy camera in tow. Plus I always get nervous when I take my camera outside, anyway. And that's so cool about UC Davis!! I love that school, their articles about horticulture are always so interesting, they had a really good one about the history of tomatoes. Avocado honey tastes like the brown sugar version of the lighter honeys. It has a very slight, almost molasses-y tang to it. Still very sweet, but, warmer almost. I know Honey Pacifica sells avocado honey at the whole foods around here, try calling your local whole foods and see if they might have any in stock for you to try. Such tasty stuff! And thank you for the warm wishes, I was so relieved that everything went off without a hitch on the big day! :)

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  14. Wow this sounds amazing, Eva! Your pictures are absolutely amazing (as always). Nice job!!

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    1. Awww thank you David! The pie was as tasty as it looked, so I was a very satisfied little lady :)

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  15. Eva, Congratulation. Can't wait to see your beautiful pictures.
    The pie, the orange blossom honey, the pictures everything is so beautiful. I loved this post. I've never tried avocado honey, wonder what that tastes like...

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    1. Thank you so much Asha :) I definitely recommend giving avocado a honey a try if you can, I know Honey Pacifica sells avocado honey in Whole Foods Market locations. It's like normal honey but with a brown sugar-type flavor to it. Almost like a realllllly light molasses hint.

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  16. So happy your wedding was so amazing. I can't wait to see the photos and read about it. But this pie certainly has my attention! I love sweet and salt, and am totally intrigued by the bees now. I just ordered the book. I think my mom would love to read it too. Pinning this recipe:)

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    1. Thank you so much Katie! You will LOVE the book, it is so easy to read and the way he describes hive culture is so interesting and intriguing. They're such amazing little creatures, let me know what you and your mom thought of it when you're done reading it :)

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  17. Congratulations, looking forward to photos!

    This pie sounds uh-mazing for sure.

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  18. Oh my god Eva you had me at 'rose crust'! What an unusual pie, and my ears always perk up when a blogger says something is the best they've ever tasted. Your honey adventure sounds like a blast, and if you are looking for something to do with some of it, I made an easy hot pepper honey which was one of the best things I've ever tasted! Great post.

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    1. Oh my! A hot pepper honey sounds absolutely delicious (you know how I love my sweet and spicy flavor combinations). I am going to get that honey infusing, asap! :)

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  19. what an interesting pie! i've found that honey can be hit-or-miss with my taste buds, but i'd have a hard time passing this up.
    and hey--congrats! :)

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  20. I am so intrigued by this stunning pie! I would never have thought to combine rose and salt either. I absolutely will be making this in the very near future.

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    1. Thank you Kate! Let me know how it comes out for you :)

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  21. I just love everything about this post. It took me on a journey. The pictures are earthy, fabulous. The story about the bees is life changing. I've always been intrigued with bees since I was a little girl. The complexity of the bee world is astounding and I want to read the book you linked. The pie has me curious and I know I'll make it. Great blog. I rarely subscribe to blogs anymore. They have to really sweep me. Subscribing.

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    1. Thank you so much Angela, that warms my heart to hear. I am so flattered by your comment and am very happy that you enjoyed this post. I had a very fun time putting it together :)

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  22. Wow. This pie looks stunning and delicious. I want it right now. What a fun event! And those photographs of the bees are beautiful! You are my brave one... haha!

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    1. Awww thanks lady! It was such a blast, I only wish I could have spent even more time with the beekeeper. It was all so interesting! And it's really funny, if you are near honey bees when they're in pollinating mode (these were all in the raspberry bushes on the property) they totally ignore you as long as you don't try to hit them or anything. It makes it very easy to get close and take pictures :)

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  23. What an interesting pie and so beautiful too. I love rose petal flavor in desserts. Can't wait to try this.

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    1. Thank you so very much, Susan. I adore rose flavors, too, they just add such a nice and soft element to sweet dishes :)

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  24. What a glorious pie! Perfect for the Jewish New Year where we love honey as it is a symbol for a sweet year. I am so ready for sweet year that I may make this very soon. Thanks!

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    1. Hahaha, thank you Abbe! Honey is such a beautiful symbol for a sweet new year, if you make the pie let me know how it comes out for you :)

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  25. Yay congratulations Eva!!! Can't wait to see photos, I bet it was a gorgeous event. This pie is blowing me away and i love baking with floral notes (especially rose). Perhaps this weekend?

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  26. honey and salted dessert sounds heavenly. I am so happy you had a great time int he weekend. Hope you will be sharing photos.

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  27. This pie sounds incredible ! How much is mixed in the rose water? Ratio? Beautiful pictures!

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  28. That pie is screaming autumn in the most lovely way!

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  29. Hey Eva, I just found your blog and all I have to say is wow! Your recipes have a great appeal to they eye. Also, your pie recipe looks truly amazing, I would say this is the one that was able to truly catch my attention. Also the fact that you went to a bee farm to get pure honey makes it even more awesome. I can tell how dedicated you are to your cooking if you are willing to get the most organic ingredients for your recipes. All I have to say is keep it up and keep posting more delicious recipes like this one!

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  30. Where would you find the rose water used in your recipe? Love your beautiful photos!

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    1. Hi Connie! Williams Sonoma carries Nielsen Massey's rose water flavoring, which is great, and you can also find it at any Greek/middle eastern marketplace. Some large grocery stores may carry it too in their baking aisle with their flavorings.

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  31. What do you think about making this in ramekins minus crust? I have a gluten-free friend who would love this!

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    1. I think it would be lovely! The only thing is that in small ramekins the custard will cook much more quickly, it will probably take about half as long to cook, so make sure to keep an eye on how its browning on top. Let me know how it comes out for you, hope you enjoy it! :)

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  32. looks sooo great! Is it really sweet or not? Is there a possibility that you can give the recipe in weight? Thx! Can't wait to try it :-)

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  33. Trying this recipe out currently... pie is in the oven! I can't wait; the combination of flavors sounds like the most perfect pie ever made.

    Have you ever tried grating cold butter? I tried it and it seems like a pretty good method, though it of course gets warm in your hand somewhat.
    Also, how do you recommend storing the pie / is it good cold?

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  34. this looks lovely. :) you said you're obsessed with bees, and i wondered if you have ever read soinbhe lally's "a hive for the honeybee"? it's a somewhat slight but very sweet story; delicate and engaging. it stays with you, somehow. i think everyone who loves bees, and maybe those who don't, should read it.

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  35. All your posts are just wonderful and so inspiring! I have thought so many times to start up a blog about food and other stuff to meet like minded and creative people but have always been intimidated by such extraordinary talent out there! You, however have been an inspiration for me with your gorgeous photography and decadent recipes! Thank you so much for your beautiful blog! I would like to know you better and it would be great if you had a look at my pictures and tell me how you feel about them!

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