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A Change of Plans

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Last week Sam and I were supposed to head to Olympic National Park to stay in an old lakeside cabin for a few nights. Lake Crescent, to be exact: a crystal clear spot complete with a rickety traditional lodge, canoes, hiking trails and hot springs. We’d planned the trip months before and were both so looking forward to some much needed downtime, but because of the government shutdown all of the National Parks were affected so we received a call the morning we were to head out of town that we should stay home. Sam was still in bed at the time; I’d been up early packing and laying out sweaters and novels and getting big thermoses of coffee ready. As I began putting away the sweaters and novels and setting the thermoses of coffee aside, I became more and more disappointed. I crawled back into bed and broke the news to Sam. Not surprisingly, he exclaimed with a smile, “where should we go instead?!” This is a ‘roll with the punches’ gene that I do not have. A few hours later we were in the car headed to Portland, where we had two memorable meals, a handful of great cocktails, a number of good neighborhood strolls and one very fine piece of pie.

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When we’re in Portland, we both love staying at the Ace Hotel. It’s in a great part of town, if you opt for the rooms with shared bathrooms (which I really don’t mind), it’s quite affordable, and they have a great adjoining bar. During this trip, many friends reached out on Facebook or over email with some last minute suggestions, so the first night we had drinks at Kask (smoked cinnamon Manhattan!) and dinner at their next-door restaurant, Gruner, a Pacific Northwest-inspired German restaurant: very special, seasonal, thoughtful food. We shared an Alsatian flatbread pizza, a plate of house sausages, a beautiful freekeh and spicy greens salad and a plum galette for dessert. Then we strolled back to the hotel in the uncharacteristically  warm drizzle.

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The next day we had brunch at Sweedeedee on a recommendation from a few girlfriends. Sweedeedee is the kind of small, unassuming neighborhood cafe that I’d like to envision I’d open one day. They jot their daily menu specials on a big roll of paper; have pies, sweets, and homemade bread overflowing onto every nook and cranny of the counter; play great records; and serve bountiful salads, sandwiches and breakfast all day long. You feel more like you’re in the living room of a great old friend — albeit one who cooks — rather than in a city cafe. There’s no rush to leave, there’s strong coffee — and, of course, there’s Salted Honey Pie. After lunch, Sam bought a few records at Mississippi Records and we strolled about Alberta Street a bit. Closer to our hotel, we popped into Canoe and Alder & Co., shopped Powell’s Books on Hawthorne and bought a few Christmas gifts at Monograph Bookwerks (very cool little spot specializing in art and architecture monographs and artist books). That night, we went to Ava Gene’s for dinner, what I’d describe as “little bit edgy Italian” — not staunchly traditional, but really solid, occasionally playful Italian food. We shared good wine,  fava bean toasts, creamy burrata, and lamb ragu pappardelle. We were one of the last ones to leave — passing on dessert but reminiscing about the pie from earlier on our walk back to the car.

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That pie! Let’s just talk about the pie, shall we? I first had a honey pie in Brooklyn at one of my favorite pie shops, Four and Twenty Blackbirds. It was delightfully flaky and pretty darn sweet — but the combination of honey and salt seemed a revelation at the time. The slice at Sweedeedee had more heft — I’m guessing they may have added a bit of cornmeal to the filling. The flavor was spot-on — just lightly kissed with honey. The whole weekend I couldn’t stop thinking about honey pie and baking one at home, but one that would have the best of both worlds: super flaky, honey-kissed, but not too terribly sweet. A pie humble in stature — like a good custard pie, but better. I figured the best way to tone down the potential ‘too sweet’ factor was to add a good bit of buttermilk and no additional sugar. I used my favorite rye pie crust recipe and didn’t skimp on the salt. It is so, so wonderful; I really hope you bake one yourself. I’m going to try and convince my mom that we should have it for Thanksgiving this year. It’s that good. Sometimes a failed lodge trip results in something sweet all the same. I hope your October is off to a great start.

Salted Honey Pie
For the pie crust (yields two 9 – inch pie crusts:)
2/3 cup rye flour
1 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon natural cane sugar
16 tablespoons/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
3-6 tablespoons ice water

For the filling:
4 large eggs, beaten
1 ¼ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted but cooled slightly
3/4 cup organic room-temperature honey
3 tablespoons flour
flaky salt (like Maldon), for sprinkling on top

Make the pie dough: Whisk both flours, salt and sugar together in a medium bowl. Using a pastry blender or your fingertips, work in the butter until coarse meal forms and some small lumps remain. Starting with 3 tablespoons, drizzle cold water over the dough; quickly stir in the water with a fork or your fingers until the dough begins to clump together into a more uniform mass and becomes slightly sticky. If it’s still dry and crumbly, add additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Divide dough in half and form 2 single flat, chubby disks; wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. Once chilled, work quickly to roll out one of the disks on a lightly floured surface until it’s about 11-12 inches round. Carefully transfer to a 9-inch pie plate and nestle gently into place. Leave 1-inch of overhang (if there’s a great deal of overhang, trim), then fold edges under and crimp. Freeze the remaining disk for a future pie!

Pre-bake the pie shell: Preheat the oven to 375F. Prick the bottom of the pie shell a few times. Line with parchment paper or aluminum foil and fill to the top with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove pie weights or beans along with parchment or foil and bake for an additional 8 minutes, or until the shell is nice and dry on the bottom.

Decrease the oven temperature to 325 F.

Make the filling: In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk  and vanilla. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the melted butter and honey until combined. Pour the honey mixture slowly into the egg mixture, whisking constantly, until well combined. Fold in the flour and stir well.

Assemble: Place the pre-baked pie shell on a baking sheet for easy transport to and from the oven. Strain the honey filling and pour into the shell. Carefully place pan into the oven and bake until the filling is set, about 55 – 60 minutes. Cool for 1 hour, then sprinkle the top liberally with flaky salt (if you sprinkle the salt on while still too warm, it may just dissolve onto the top of the pie instead of remaining flaky and pretty). Serve room temperature – or cold the next day. Refrigerate and cover leftovers for up to 2 days.

  1. Posted October 15, 2013 at 7:42 am

    Salted honey pie? Say no more, I’m completely and utterly sold :-)

  2. Payal
    Posted October 15, 2013 at 8:47 am

    I have been waiting for the recipe for this lovely thing! Looks beyond amzing.

  3. Posted October 15, 2013 at 9:02 am

    This is the second post I see this week for salted honey pie. How much longer can I resist before trying to make my own? Thanks for the inspiration (again!) with this beautiful pie. Made your fresh corn grits a few weeks ago – loved it!

  4. Posted October 15, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Man, this pie sounds amazing! One, please. :) We are in Portland right now–I’ve been to lots of the same places, but now I feel like I have an even bigger list of new restaurants to try!

  5. Annie
    Posted October 15, 2013 at 11:18 am

    This looks great, but: three tablespoons of salt to sprinkle on top? How can that be?

  6. Posted October 15, 2013 at 11:28 am

    Love how you turned a bummer situation into a fun and exciting trip! I’ve never had salted honey pie, but the photos look delightful, so I’ll have to try it soon. :)

  7. megang
    Posted October 15, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Hi Annie!
    Epic typo; thank you so much for alerting me. It was actually 3 tablespoons flour — new line — flaky salt, for sprinkling, so apparently something happened with the spacing there. But all fixed now, and I do appreciate your keen eye. I hope you enjoy the recipe, Megan

  8. Posted October 15, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    I loved how the trip turned it around into something spontaneous and fun instead. It’s great that you have someone that pushes you to be adventurous in that way. I would have done the same thing and assumed the trip was off. Sweedeedee has the cutest website, and I noticed they had a pic collage of the honey pie in making from bees to pie.

    I’m off to Melbourne for the rest of the week, so it was exciting to read about your mini vacation too. I’m looking forward to checking out Silo- http://www.broadsheet.com.au/melbourne/food-and-drink/directory/cafe/silo-joost

    You’d love Melbourne! Keep having an awesome October.

  9. Posted October 15, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    Sounds like you ended up having a fabulous trip! Also, this pie is gorgeous. Love the flavour!

  10. Posted October 15, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    Not only am I making this pie asap, I’m jotting down your restaurant recommendations. Thanks for sharing!!

  11. Posted October 15, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Oh Megan, it sounds like you guys had an incredible weekend! Your description of the meal you shared at the Italian place had me drooling on my keyboard… and then this pie recipe! I can’t wait to try it :-)

  12. eric G
    Posted October 15, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    Best email I got today! I’m going to give this recipe to my husband!

  13. Missy
    Posted October 15, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    This pie looks and sounds marvelous!

  14. Posted October 16, 2013 at 12:18 am

    This crust looks amazing!

  15. Posted October 16, 2013 at 2:18 am

    Gosh! Now I need a trip to Portland. I really love buttermilk pie, so I think this would be right up my alley.

  16. megang
    Posted October 16, 2013 at 6:23 am

    YES, get that husband of yours on it, Eric :) Hope you guys are well; miss you!

  17. Posted October 16, 2013 at 7:47 am

    I’m very much like you – it’s hard for me to switch mindsets. But I’m glad you went to Portland instead! Great, great place to hang out and relax :) We’re hoping to make it down to Palm Springs next weekend and stay at the Ace ;)

  18. Posted October 16, 2013 at 9:25 am

    What a wonderful silver lining! Sounds like a lovely get-away. You have me itching to get to Portland. I’m also intrigued by the pie, and I’d like to volunteer to be your first customer when you open up that neighborhood cafe. ; )

  19. Kathy
    Posted October 16, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    Meg, would you make this pie at Thanksgiving? It looks yummy! Hope all is well.
    Love Kathy

  20. megang
    Posted October 16, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    Hi, Kathy! Yes I want to. I’ll convince Mom. Hope you’re good. I’ve been checking in on E via text. Will get him to dinner soon. xox

  21. Posted October 19, 2013 at 11:12 am

    this sounds delish!

  22. Posted October 22, 2013 at 8:38 am

    Salted Honey Pie??

    How have I never HEARD of salted honey pie?!

    My huge thanks, Megan, for bringing this to light. Adding buttermilk to my grocery list right now…

  23. Posted October 23, 2013 at 2:25 am

    That is the perfect example of everything happening for a reason. So glad you had a great trip :). The pie sounds really good. Love stopping by your blog Megan.

  24. megang
    Posted October 26, 2013 at 9:25 am

    Thanks so much, Laura! Glad you’re enjoying the site. Happy weekend!

  25. megang
    Posted October 26, 2013 at 9:26 am

    This would be RIGHT up your alley, Molly. Tara shared some peanut butter cookies she made a few weeks back using a recipe from your site and HOLY MOLY were they great. If I’m not mistaken, they use a bit more salt than a standard recipe, yes? So, so good. Thank you, always, for your sweet comments and happiest of weekend to you!

  26. Stephanie
    Posted October 28, 2013 at 10:54 am

    Oh I want to try this! But Megan do you have any ideas of what kinda of pie crust I can use instead of a homemade one if I don’t have the time to make it? I want to try it but I am not sure if I can find rye flour where I live (and I am feeling a bit lazy!) Thanks!

  27. megang
    Posted October 28, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    Hi Stephanie! Of course! I’m always a big proponent of making something with what you have … always better than not making it at all. This crust would work just fine with all-purpose flour if that is what you have on hand. For years, I used Martha Stewart’s pate brisee recipe for pie crust (just google it) and it’s pretty easy and straightforward. Best of luck + I really hope you enjoy the pie! ~Megan

  28. Posted November 1, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    Oh this looks just wonderful Megan. I’d never thought about putting honey and salt together. Thanks so much for posting.

  29. Liz Iverson
    Posted November 2, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    I just made this lovely pie. It looks and smells delicious! I will post a tasting critique soon.

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