It’s National Pie Day, and there’s no better way to celebrate than by eating a nice big slice of pie.
There are some great spots in the city to get your fill. There’s key lime pie on the menu at Supper on the East Side. You can also purchase a housemade personal-sized apple pie at Full of Beans Cafe in Walker’s Point.
If you’re on the west side, head to North Avenue Grill, where you can find pie made by Allison Cebulla of Hatched. If you’re really hungry, grab an entire pie from Mr. Dye’s Pies, in flavors including pecan, sweet potato and brandy old fashioned (note the new address on Tower Avenue.)
Feeling more like custard? There’s always the Pie Oh My concrete at Shake Shack, featuring vanilla custard mixed with a slice of Honeypie Cafe’s seasonal pie.
Speaking of Honeypie Cafe, there are at least 50 flavors of pie in its repertoire (largely thanks to co-owner Val Lucks's intensive research), with probably six to eight showing up daily on the menu. You can also find the pies at sister restaurant, Palomino, where there’s always at least one or two pies on the menu.
One of my favorites is the namesake honey pie. It’s sweet and salty and rich, with a smooth custard base and a deliciously flaky crust.
Of course, as good as it is, it doesn't show up on the Honeypie menu nearly often enough for my taste. So, I decided to take a whirl at making my own.
The recipe is a variation on chess pie, a Southern-style custard pie which makes use of cornmeal as a thickening and textural agent, as well as vinegar to round out the flavor and prevent the sweetness from becoming cloying.
The flaky crust owes its flavor and texture to the magic of butter. A bit of sea salt added to the finished pie offers up a pleasant crunch, as well as giving the pie an irresistible sweet-salty flavor.
Salted Honey Pie
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, chilled and diced
1/4 cup ice water
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup honey
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup cream
flaked salt for finishing
First, prepare crust. In large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until mixture forms a ball.
Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
On floured surface, roll crust into 12-inch circle. Press dough evenly into bottom and sides of 9-inch pie plate. Trim edge almost even with edge of pan. Fold edges under and crimp with fingers or fork. Cover crust with plastic wrap and refrigerate for minimum of 30 minutes and maximum of 3 hours.
When you are ready to make the pie, preheat oven to 375°F.
To prepare filling, melt butter in small pan over medium heat. When foam subsides, watch closely and stir often. When white milk solids have turned brown and butter smells toasty, turn off heat and add honey, stirring until it dissolves. Let mixture cool 10 minutes before proceeding.
In medium-sized bowl, whisk together brown sugar, cornmeal and salt, being sure to work out any lumps in sugar. Stir in brown butter and honey mixture, vanilla and apple cider vinegar. Add eggs, 1 at a time, whisking after each addition. Whisk in heavy cream.
Pour filling into chilled pie shell and bake on middle rack of oven for 45-60 minutes, rotating once halfway through baking. Be sure to check the pie occasionally to ensure the crust doesn’t brown too quickly (cover the crust with a pie shield or aluminum foil if needed). The pie is ready when filling is puffed and golden, but center is still just a bit wobbly when shaken.
Cool pie on wire rack for about 1 an hour before sprinkling with sea salt to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.