I. Am. Obsessed. This is a not a new thing, it’s been a slow build but with every bake that I use it in, I fall ever so slightly more in love with it as an ingredient. You can probably tell by the name of this post that the magical ingredient I am talking about is tahini, sesame seed paste. It lends itself so well to baking, it’s flavour is familiar (I describe it as peanut butter but with more depth) and it marries wonderfully with so many different flavours and is the perfect thing when you want something a little more sweet and salty. I’ve added the paste to cakes, to cookies, to all manner of recipes but when the Sister Pie cookbook landed on my doorstep all I could think of was pie. Pie is another obsessions of mine and in the same way I find tahini to be a brilliantly flexible ingredient, pie is the dish that you’ll never run out of ideas for, it is a vessel for whatever flavour you could fancy. And right now that flavour is tahini, specifically a salted honey and tahini pie.
The recipe for this pie uses my favourite pie dough, my ultimate flaky pie dough that I developed for Olive Magazine and can be found here. The filling owes a lot to the brilliant Sister Pie cookbook along with some pointers from the Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie book which came out a few years back. Its a slight mash up of both their recipes with a few additions from me.
The recipe is based on an old classic American idea called Chess Pie. Whilst to us brits that name doesn’t mean anything every American I know seems to loves it. Think of it in a way that isn’t dissimilar to treacle tart. You also may know of its famous modern cousin, Milk Bar’s Crack Pie. Now for anyone who has tried Crack Pie you know this style of dessert can be very sweet, almost too sweet for a lot of people, but that is where the brilliance of tahini really helps in this recipe. Whilst sesame works a treat in sweet recipes it does have an overwhelming savouriness which really helps to balance the sweetness in the recipe, as does the salt that is added (do not skip the salt the pie needs it, so do you).
Salted Honey and Tahini Pie
1/2 batch of my Ultimate Flaky Pie Dough
1 tbsp sesame seeds
egg yolk for blind baking the pie
120g unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
150g light brown muscavado sugar (you can use regular light brown too)
3 tbsp fine cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt, plus extra for topping
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
To make the pie remove the dough from the fridge and on a lightly floured work surface roll out into a circle about 11-12 inches across. Drape into a 9-inch pie plate and cut the excess so that about 1-inch of dough is hanging over the edge of the pie plate. Take the overhang and roll it under itself to form a rope of dough that sits on the rim of the pie plate. Use two fingers of one hand, pinching them together, holding them against the outside of the pie. Use your forefinger of your other hand and press the pastry, from the inside of the pan, into your pinched fingers so the pastry forms a classic v-shaped crimp.
Place the pie into the fridge for at least 30 minutes or until the pastry is nice and firm (you can also freeze the pie shell at this point).
Preheat the oven to 220C (200C). Once chilled remove the pie from the fridge and line with a crumpled piece of parchment paper and fill with rice or baking beans. I prefer rice as the small size means there is less air pockets meaning it is less likely for the pastry to rise up during baking. Bake the pie on a baking tray in the preheated oven for about 20–25 minutes or until the crimped edge of the pie is golden brown. Remove the parchment and the rice and bake for a further 5 minutes or so, until the inside of the pie is starting to brown. Since we are adding a wet filling you can add a further step to prevent the dreaded soggy bottom. Brush the inside of the pie with a beaten egg yolk and pop the pie back in the oven for a minute or so until set.
Remove the pie from the oven and set aside for the moment. Reduce the heat of the oven to 200C (180C fan).
To make the pie filling, place the butter, sugar, cornmeal, salt, vanilla and honey into a large bowl and whisk together until smooth and combined. Add the eggs one at a time whisking to combine. Finally add the tahini and whisk the mixture until everything is smooth and fully combined. Pour the custard into the blind baked pie shell. Before baking brush the crimped edge of the pie with a little beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake on a baking tray for about 40-50 minutes or until the edges of the filling are set and puffed up whilst the middle has a gelatinous look to it, set but still a little wobbly. Keep an eye on the rim of the pie as the seeds may brown a little quicker than the pie, so if they seem a little too dark tent the pie with foil for the rest of the baking.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle with a little flaked sea salt. Set the pie aside to allow it cool to room temperature.