The Salted Honey Pie from Brite Spot Diner in Echo Park, Los Angeles is one of my favorite slices of pie in the whole wide world. So when I was gifted honey and honeycomb from my beekeeper friend Camille in exchange for baked goods, it was obvious that this honey would be destined to become pie.
I briefly flirted with becoming a beekeeper when the same friend gave me some frames of bees and queen bee nucs last summer. Sadly, my queen bee Regina George died, the worker bees didn’t make it and they all died, plus I don’t have the right space to keep bees safely so my beekeeping days are done but it was a fun and educational experience.
What is Honeycomb?
Honeycombs are the internal structure of beehives, they’re little hexagonal bee houses. Made from beeswax, a substance created by worker bees that secrete wax scales from special glands in their body. They chew the wax with a bit of honey and pollen to produce the beeswax to build their home. Honeycombs are used to store honey and pollen and hatch baby bees. Worker bees put a little seal of capwax over the top of the honeycomb to seal in the honey and baby bees.
Can I eat honeycomb? Yes! It’s perfectly safe and delicious to eat! It has a chewy texture. I like enjoying it with cheese and charcuterie. The honey produced by bees and the beeswax will taste different depending on the season and area the bees are pollinating. Different flowers have a different flavor profile and you can taste it in their honey.
Why is that honeycomb dark-colored and the other light-colored? Is it safe to eat? The dark honeycomb is or was used for brood rearing -- raising baby bees. The dark color is caused by debris, propolis (a resin-like material made by bees), and other bits leftover as it’s a high traffic area. Sometimes bees to reuse old brood combs to store honey. Totally safe to eat.
Cool Honey Facts:
To make one pound of honey, the bees must visit 2 million flowers, fly over 55,000 miles and will be the lifetime work of approximately 768 bees.
A single honeybee will only produce approximately 1/12 teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.
In one year, a typical beehive can produce anywhere from 30 to 100 pounds of honey.
Honey never spoils or goes bad.
Learn more at TheHoneyBeeConservancy.org
About this Recipe
Just about every recipe I searched referenced the Salty Honey Pie from Four & Twenty Blackbirds in NYC and their pie cookbook. I decided to use the recipe adapted by Michelle from Hummingbird High because I’m a big fan of hers and I liked that she, like me, felt that the pie can be too sickeningly sweet. I mean, it is a boatload of honey turned into custard. It is what it is.
Her recipe is great! I’m not even going to try to adapt it and rewrite it here, I’m just going to give you the link below and a few tips and suggestions.
No soggy bottom pies! The recipe says bake in a metal pie pan on the middle rack. I used a glass pie pan on the middle rack that led to a soft crust and soggy pie bottom. No one likes soggy bottom pies. Believe it or not, your pie pan factors into how you bake it!
Metal Pie Pan: Bake on middle rack. Metal transfers heat faster and more evenly.
Glass or Ceramic Pie Pan: Bake the pie on the bottom rack of your oven! Check halfway through baking, and if it’s getting too dark move it to the middle rack. Glass or ceramic is thicker and transfers heat slower, by baking on the bottom rack you’ll be a nice golden bottom.
Use a lighter flavored honey. If you’re adverse to sickeningly sweet, use a milder flavored honey. Lighter colored honeys tend to taste more mild, darker colors are more strong. Mesquite/Tupelo/Cactus honey or clover honey are good light, mild ones to try.
Splurge and get the fancy salt. Flaky Maldon salt, or flaky sea salt, makes ALL the difference with this pie. You can't just sprinkle table salt, or whatever you have for regular cooking. You need the big flakes to help contrast with the sweetness of the honey.
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