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It’s almost pie season. Right now, there’s not much fruit available at the markets, but I’ve had this recipe card lingering in my “to try” folder, and decided the time was right to give it a go.

This is a pie I’ve enjoyed at Four & Twenty Blackbird Pie Shop in New York and I had the recipe on a card that was in the stack of recipes I’ve been hep to try. (I believe it’s also in their book, The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book.)

A couple of things about this pie. (Other than once you make it, you won’t be able to stop eating it. Just so you know…) One is that I know for a fact that many people have extremely sharp eyes out there. Someone was able to identify and an empty nut container in the far background of a photo of mine recently, that was almost completely out of focus. (And it was on Instagram, so they likely were able to discern that on the screen of a little smartphone, to boot.) I should start handing out awards for that kind of vigilance! But you don’t need to have laser-sharp vision to see that I’ve got two different pie crusts going on here.

After I gave it a try with my standard all-butter pie crust, I wondered what it would be like with a pretzel pie crust instead. So gave it another go the next day, to taste and compare. And because, of course, you can never have enough pie.

Another thing to discuss is the honey that I used. I like use a slightly darker honey when baking, which taste less-sweet,and are are often labeled “amber” or wildflower honey in the U.S. In France, honey is usually labeled by the plant, and dark honeys include bourdaine (black or alder buckthorn), bruyère (heather), and other types. Although I love strongly flavored chestnut and buckwheat honey, if you want to use them, I’d cut them perhaps 50:50 with a lighter-flavored honey.

For those who remain unconvinced that sea salt tastes better than fine table salt, if you choose to sprinkle this with table salt, you will likely throw away that canister of salt, and probably have to throw away your pie, too. This is your chance to showcase that lovely finishing salt you’ve been saving. There are several to choose from, including fleur de sel (France), Maldon (U.K.), Jacobsen (U.S.), or another salt, like the black salt I got in Iceland. While kosher salt is fine for cooking and baking, I don’t recommend using it here.

As for the aforementioned crusts, I relied on the “Romain Test”, leaving both pies – one with a standard pie crust (recipe below) and one with a pretzel crust, on the counter, and watched which disappeared first over the next few days. It seemed to be a tie, although he admitted he preferred the pretzel crust, saying he liked the “surprise et contraste.”

Salted Honey Pie

The crust will get a little darker as it baked, once filled. If it's getting too dark, you can either 1) Drape a sheet of foil lightly over the entire pie (making sure it's not touching the top of the pie filling, 2) Fashion pieces of foil over just the crust while the pie is baking, or 3) Use a pie shield. To make this gluten-free, you can use the Pretzel Pie Crust (using gluten-free pretzels) and cornstarch in place of the flour in the filling. The pie dough can be made in advance and either refrigerated for up to two days (either unrolled or rolled and fitted into the pan), or frozen (either unrolled of rolled and fitted in the pan) for up to two months. Once baked, the pie can be kept at room temperature (or refrigerated) for up to 5 days.

For the crust

  • 1 1/4 cups (175g) flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces (8 tablespoons, 115g) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
  • 3-4 tablespoons ice water

For the filling

  • 4 ounces (8 tablespoons, 115g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup (45g) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour, or 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (240g) honey
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120g) sour cream, heavy cream, or crème fraîche
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • flaky sea salt, to finish the pie

To make the pie crust

  • Assemble the pie crust by mixing the flour, sugar, and salt together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (It can also be made in a bowl with a pastry blender or in a food processor.)
  • Add the cubed butter and mix on medium speed until the butter is broken up into little pieces roughly the size of corn kernels. Add 3 tablespoons of ice water and mix on low speed until the dough begins to come together. If it appears dry, add the final tablespoon of ice water.
  • Stop the mixer and use your hands to gather the dough, and shape it into a disk. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 14-inch (35cm) round. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch (23cm) pie plate or pan. Ease the dough into the dish and trim the dough hanging over the edge, leaving about an inch (2.5cm) of dough hanging over. Fold the overhanging dough under the rim of the pie. Crimp the rim of crust and return the pie dough to the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until firm.

To make the filling

  • Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Line the pie shell with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake the dough until it starts to set around the edges and turns a light golden brown. Remove the foil and weights, and continue to bake until the crust is
    very light
    golden brown. If it puffs up during baking at this point, gently press it down by poking it with a fork a few times and using a spatula to tap it down. Do not bake the pie shell until dark brown. Remove the pie shell from the oven to a wire rack. Reduce the heat of the oven to 350ºF (175ºC).
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugar, flour, salt, vanilla, and honey. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, then mix in the sour cream and vinegar. Scrape the filling into the baked pie shell. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until the edges are golden brown and the center is almost set. It should still jiggle, but not be watery. (If the edges of the crust get too dark during baking, use one of the techniques listed in the headnote to mitigate that.)
  • Let the pie cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt before serving.


Variation: Replace 3 tablespoons of the sour cream (or heavy cream) with bourbon or dark rum.



    • lg

    intriguing, particularly with the pretzel crust. Your comment that sea salt should be used instead of kosher salt piqued my curiosity. Why would that be the case? I can understand not using table salt, though. (just everyday curiosity; no criticism intended here!)

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      To me, kosher salt has a somewhat harsh flavor, which isn’t an issue when it’s melted or dissolved. But on its own, I find it doesn’t make a tasty finishing salt and prefer sea salt. The best way to taste the difference is to taste a bit of flaky (not fine) sea salt, then taste a few grains of kosher salt.

    • Pam

    Damn, that looks good. Good to know that Romain preferred the pretzel crust. Did you prefer one over the other?

    • patrick

    Looks great and the liquor variations open up intriguing possibilities… a smoky mezcal honey pie with a lime zest shortbread crust? A campari version finished with candied grapefruit peels?

    • Jeannette

    I love this pie. One of my go-tos from 4-20 blackbirds!

    • Deborah

    This sounds really tasty and I have everything on hand except the cream. I wonder if 5% Greek yougurt would work?

    • PepperReed

    I was thinking the same thing; I swap yoghurt vs sour cream all the time and I’d bet it would work here. The tangy-ness would be a nice contrast to the honey as well.

    • Rachel

    Hi! Have you ever tried it with browned butter?

      • Vera Marie

      I’ve been wanting to make a crust of gingersnaps, and I think the honey pie would work with ginger snaps. Yes?

        • lg

        Great idea! Remember that they would increase the overall sweetness, though. And taming that is where the pretzels would shine.

    • EFM

    David. Isn’t it always pie season? Thanks for posting this recipe, it looks delicious.

      • Chris

      Amen! I’ve spent the last 30 years trying to convince my partner that every season is ice cream season, and now you’re attacking the pie side as well. What’s next — chocolate season??

    • Natalie

    I love the sweet and salty combo in this pie! Honey pie is such a great dessert I don’t make quite a lot unfortunately because not a lot of people love it as much as I do. Looks so delicious ♥

    • Susan Walter

    I was able to get miel de bourdaine for the first time in ages last year from a producer in the Sologne. BTW, bourdaine is alder buckthorn in English , occasionally aka black buckthorn. The scientific name is Frangula alnus ie the alder-like buckthorn, so it’s a buckthorn that reminded the scientist who named it (Philip Miller in the 18C) of an alder. Sorry to be nerdy about it, but names matter to a taxonomist :-)

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    Pam: I like them both, for different reasons.

    Susan: Thanks, I’ll include that.

    Rachel: If you try it, I’d add additional butter because you’d be cooking off the water in the butter when you browned it, which helps hold the crust together. The “browned” flavor may get lost under the pie (which is pretty flavorful), but if you do try it, let me know how it works out.

    Deborah: I didn’t try it with yogurt so can’t say. Would only use full-fat if I was going to give it a go. If you try it, I’d be interesting in knowing how it goes. Let us know!

    Vera: I’ve made crusts like this with gingersnaps and they work well, although as noted, they have more sugar in them than pretzels, so it’ll be sweeter.

    • Dawn

    I can’t wait to try this we just collected some dark honey from our bees that was uncapped so this will be a good use for it.

    • Heidi Yorkshire

    Hey David, how about coming up with a pretzel streusel recipe for a fruit crisp?

      • Sylvie

      Good idea!

    • Donna Martz

    This looks like a great pie to try for a quick casual desert. Question is, what pretzel to use? Never have been a big pretzel eater. Are they generally all the same? Also, I’ve never heard of finishing salt. That sounds interesting. Thanks, Donna

    • H.L.

    Dumb question: does the pretzel crust need blind baking as well? I want to avoid any ‘sog factor’.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      You don’t have to but I do blind bake it first. Because the filling is liquidy it’s not a super crisp crust, though.

    • Terese C.

    Hi David: This pie looks similar to a pie that’s called Crack Pie. Have you ever made Crack Pie? I would love your thoughts on it. I first heard of from Alexis Stewart, Martha Stewart’s daughter. She loved it! Let me know, Thank you Terese C.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I haven’t seen that pie recipe but I know the one at Milk Bar became the most well known. They did change the name, but when I tried the one at Milk Bar, is wasn’t a high and seemed a lot sweeter.

    • Julieta

    Great recipe David, I need to try this pie really soon!
    Do you think it came improve honey taste if I cook honey separated until it browns a bit, like I saw in some recipes for Russian Honey Cake?
    Thank you!

      • Mila

      Julieta, honey in the Russian honey cake darkens not just from being cooked but from the addition of baking soda.

    • Liza in Ann Arbor

    This reminds me of something they call Sugar Pie up in Quebec. I believe there it’s made with maple syrup and oh my gosh is it ever good.

    • jane

    How is no one noticing your stunning flour crust? It is so beautiful. That said the pretzel crust would be so delicious here.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Thanks! It’s my standard pie crust recipe and (I think) comes out nice ; )

    • Jennifer Huber

    I’m so glad you made this! I remember when the cookbook from Four and Twenty Blackbirds came out and I made this pie. I loved it so much! I may have even posted a blog on it.
    Regardless, I am ever grateful for your blog. I look forward to reading every post and I have made several gems from My French Kitchen and L’apart. Thank you, thank you

    • Jill Karol

    Any thoughts on using creamed honey in this? Would the aeration affect volume or weight measurements?

      • Soh

      Did you ever try this, @Jill Karol? I’ve got creamed honey as well and was curious.

    • susan

    Any thoughts as to whether you could replace the 1/3 cup of sugar with honey as well?

    • otto

    This recipe reminds me of honey lavender pie, in which I used lavender-infused sugar (I crushed the lavender with sugar in a mortar and pestle, then sifted out the sugar). I’m intrigued by the pretzel crust.

    • Kelly Red

    This looks fabulous. But a comment, how can a filling made of sour cream or yogurt and eggs sit out on the counter for up to 5 days?! Is this just my mid-western mother life’s lessons on food safety or is this truly ok? I’d never leave a custard type pie out, always the frig but maybe that’s just me.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Honey historically has been used as a preservative (which it was used for before the advent of refrigeration) and because the honey (and sugar) is in a smaller proportion to the eggs and cream, it’s less-fragile. That said, we ate the pie for five days afterward, which was stored at room temperature, and suffered no ill effects.

      However some might feel more comfortable refrigerating it, so I’ve offered that option as well. Feel free to refrigerate the pie but my recommendation is to let it come to room temperature before eating it.

    • Mariza

    Do you have a preference over which of the 3 types of cream to use? We have easy access to all 3, so I’m wondering if the tang from the creme fraiche or sour cream would be better than the heavy cream and which one you generally prefer the taste of in this pie.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I prefer cream with tang, but not everyone can get sour cream or crème fraîche, so I offered up three variations.

    • Soh

    Would it be possible to make these into mini bite size pies?

      • Belle

      @Soh, I had so much filling and pastry left over that I made minis using a small muffin pan. Cook for a lot less time than in the recipe, like 10 mins max for the filling.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I don’t see why not! : )

    • Deniz

    Hi David, I tried this pie at Four and Twenty Blackbirds and enjoyed it!
    I found it a bit sweet though. I would love to cut down the sweetness. Would you recommend reducing the sugar or the honey?

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I would recommend dialing up the vinegar, or adding some lemon juice, rather than reducing the other ingredients. But if you wanted to try reducing the sugar (the honey is there for volume), let me know how much you reduced it by, and it turns out.

        • Pristine

        I have made David’s version and can confirm it is delicious, especially when it cools down. It is like eating honeyed cornflakes!

        Since I was inspired by this recipe to get the Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book, I compared their version to David’s. It looks like they have 3/4 cup (150g) of sugar, while David uses 1/3 cup (45-50g). Having tried David’s version first, I think it is just right, so would stick to his quantities.

    • Chris

    My pie tasted good, but the top is much darker than the picture in the article. Any idea why?

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      If it tasted fine, I wouldn’t be concerned about it. Perhaps something to do with your oven? If it was over-browning, I’d recommended tenting the pie with foil while it’s baking, but since you didn’t mention it was overcooked, I can’t think of why that would happen.

    • Rachael

    Would you recommend or advise against adding rhubarb to this to create a rhubarb custard pie? These ingredients seem similar to other custard pie recipes. We have a LOT of honey on hand (long story!), and I’d like to use our garden rhubarb in a Mothers Day dessert. Thanks for any advice!

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Because fruit exudes juice when cooked, I can’t say if it would work with this filling. You might be better off making a sorbet, compote, or ice cream with the rhubarb to serve alongside, but if you do try some baked in the filling, let me know how it works out.

        • Rachael

        Thanks, will do!

    • Dianna

    Hi, David, I would love to try your pretzel crust recipe with my key lime pie filling! The pie takes about 12-14 minutes to bake – do I prebake the pretzel crust 8-10 minutes first, then fill and bake the additional 12-14 minutes it takes for the filling to bake, OR, bake the crust and filling only a total of 12-14 minutes? Thanks for your feedback! Dianna B.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      If you prebake a crust before adding and baking the filling, it generally stays crispier. Since you’re going off-course on the recipe, I would rely more on look and feel rather than actual minutes for baking times since you’re using different ingredients and parameters. Hope that helps!

    • Mary

    Hi David,
    The pie is gorgeous! Any option for replacing sugar in the filling? Is ok to be replaced with honey, maple sugar/syrup, whatsoever?

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I haven’t tried it but it may be too sweet (liquid sweeteners are generally sweeter than sugar) so I’d used less of whatever if you do try something. If you do give it a go, let us know how it turns out.


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