Part custard, part cheesecake, a Honey Pie or Melopita (meh-LOH-peeta) is so versatile that you will find yourself trying it many ways. You can make this like a pie with a bottom and/or top crust. You can try it as a tart as I make it. Or you can make it without a crust entirely as it is enjoyed on the island of Sifnos in Greece. Either way, it is sure to please.
Traditionally this is made with soft Myzithra (mee-ZEE-thra) cheese, but if that is not readily available, use Ricotta cheese as a great substitute.
You can substitute the crust with a prepared pie shell.
- For the Filling:
- 1 lb. Myzithra cheese (soft, or Ricotta cheese)
- 3 eggs (lightly beaten)
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 lemon (the zest, grated)
- 3 tbsp. flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- Garnish: cinnamon (ground)
- Garnish: honey
- For the Crust:
- 1 1/4 cup flour (all-purpose)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 egg (just the yolk)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp. brandy (or cognac)
- 2 tbsp. water (iced)
- 8 tbsp./1 stick butter (unsalted, cut into 1/4 inch pieces)
Preheat the oven to 350 F
To make crust in Food Processor:
- Add flour, sugar, and salt to the bowl. Pulse a few times to mix.
- Add chilled butter pieces and process until crumbly, like wet sand.
- Add egg yolk, vanilla, brandy, and 1 tbsp. ice water.
- Process until dough pulls together and forms a ball away from the sides.
- Add an additional tbsp. of water if it seems too dry.
- Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and flatten dough into a round disk.
- Chill dough while you prepare the filling.
To make the crust by hand:
- In a large mixing bowl, add flour, sugar, and salt. Mix to combine.
- Add the butter pieces and using two forks or a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour. (You can also use your hands for this.) The mixture should resemble coarse sand when the butter is incorporated fully.
- Add egg yolk, vanilla, brandy, and water and mix to incorporate, kneading dough into a smooth ball.
- Flatten into a round disk and chill while mixing the filling.
Make the Filling:
- In a medium sized bowl add Myzithra or Ricotta cheese, eggs, honey, lemon zest, flour, and sugar. Mix well until all ingredients are combined.
- Using a rolling pin, roll out your dough to the approximate size of your baking pan. I use a 10-inch tart circle with a removable bottom. You can substitute a spring form pan, a round cake pan, or even a pie dish.
- Lightly grease the pan's bottom and sides. Your dough should be large enough to push up the sides of your pan. The easiest way to transfer the dough from the counter to the pan is to roll it back onto your rolling pin and then unroll it over the pan.
- Press the dough into the sides and bottom of the pan.
- Add filling and bake in a preheated 350 F oven until the filling sets (it won't jiggle in the center) and it begins to turn a golden brown color. Baking times will vary according to the size you choose to make. For a 10-inch tart, it should take around 40 minutes. A deeper, 9-inch pie plate could take up to 50 minutes. Be sure to monitor your pie after 35 minutes of baking time.
Serve on a plate drizzled with honey and sprinkle with ground cinnamon.