The Wedding Bees by Sarah-Kate Lynch is not a book I would normally pick up. It was clear from the blurb it is a fluffy Barbie-pink chick-lit novel about "finding sweetness where you least expect it" (that's a blurb that would make me put the book straight back on the shelf). But it was chosen as a Book of the month by one of the culinary-reading challenges I was invited to join in back in summer (now I have completely lost the link, and don't remember its name, but the premises of the book challenge is similar to #ReadCookEat, only that you have to read the same novel as everyone else).
I struggled with this book, while everyone else seemed to be gushing about it. And because of that I was too late to join in with the linky (does anyone know what I'm talking about and could remind me its name?!).
The protagonist of the novel called Sugar Wallace travels through the country with her bees. In fact it's her Queen bee who usually picks up the destination by crawling over the map on the table. Thus the Southerner Sugar ends up in New York, distributing her honey products and life philosophy on the unsuspecting
She's the type of Goody-two-shoes who usually irritate me. She thinks she has a knack of helping people (while in my opinion she just enjoys interfering in other people's lives as there's a lack of meaning in her own life).
The neighbours, quite outlandish in their behaviour and manners, are rather cliched. There's an elderly couple who are not a couple anymore and are full of abuse to each other, a poor young chef bullied by his boss, a young woman with an eating disorder. And then there's Sugar who fixes everyone's problems. The premises are similar to Chocolat, only much more annoying.
Sugar runs from her past, and her caricature of parents. She's a runaway bride, who I haven't been able to relate to. She is meant to be a romantic heroine, but I did feel like slapping her at times.
As for her romance with a handsome Scot Theo, and the bees' assistance in the matter, that's as twee as it sounds.
The novel has quite a few food references, and there were a few possible candidates for #ReadCookEat - breakfast grits, date and honey nut loaf, raspberry pavlova. I haven't cooked a honey pie before, and fancied trying one for a long time.
"I'm not sure what to think, to be perfectly honest. Now, does anyone want a slice of honey pie? I just made one. With extra nutmeg. It smells divine".
As for the novel, it ended up in the charity shop. Hopefully it will find a reader who will enjoy it.
I have looked at many recipes, both in books and online, for a honey pie that wouldn't include nuts or polenta. I wanted just a plain smooth silky honey pie without additional coarser texture.
I don't remember now which of the two almost identical recipes was my main point of reference - it was either one from Joy the Baker blog or Hummingbirdhigh. I scribbled the recipe on a piece of paper, then had to convert it into grams, then changed bits as I went along, and now not sure who to thank, so I thank both bloggers for inspiration.
Both blogs have splendid photos, and the recipes sounded delicious so check them out for the recipe.
I have changed the amounts from cups to grams etc, as well as adapted it to suit the ingredients I had (for example, cornflour rather than cornmeal etc). I have also cut the amount of sugar in the filling in half, as it would have been way too sweet. In fact, it was very sweet at even half the amount of sugar.
110g cold butter, cubed
200g self-raising flour
1tsp caster sugar
a pinch of salt
for the filling:
110g butter, melted
60g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
3 medium eggs
about 250g honey (I used set honey)
125ml double cream
a pinch of nutmeg
1tsp apple cider vinegar
First make the crust by mixing together the flour with sugar and salt. Add the cold cubed butter, and work the butter into crumbs. Then pour the cold buttermilk, keep mixing. By mistake I added the apple cider vinegar to the pastry, oups. It didn't really matter much. Once you have kneaded the whole lot in a moist dough ball, put it in the fridge for an hour.
Later dust the working surface with the flour and roll the dough into a flat pancake about 3-4mm thickness. Carefully place over the oiled pie dish and trim the edges. Cover the pie crust with the cling film and put in the fridge for another half an hour or so.
To make the filling beat together the melted butter with sugar, cornflour and vanilla. Add the honey and cream and a pinch of nutmeg. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Mix well.
As the filling was too liquid, I have pre-baked the pie crust at 180C for 10 minutes.
Pour the filling in a pie crust. Carefully transfer the pie dish into the oven (mine was spilling a bit out. As I said, the filling is very liquid.
Bake at 180C for 50+ minutes until golden brown.
Let it rest for a few hours before eating. I think we gave it an hour at most before trying.
The verdict was that the pastry was too thick, and if I bake a honey pie again, I'm not going to faffle with my own pastry. Jus-rol will be better than my effort. During the baking the filling slightly separated in two. I loved the filling, it was delicious, smooth and creamy.
Have you read a book recently which inspired you to run to the kitchen and cook to your heart's content?
If the answer is Yes, come and join in our #ReadCookEat challenge.
The idea is to choose a book, either a world classic or modern fiction, or even memoirs and pick up a dish mentioned or described in that book and then recreate it in a recipe. Please say a few lines about your chosen book, and maybe even do a quote from the book.
If you decide to take part, please add the badge to your post and link up back to me, and either use a link-up tool or add the url of your post as a comment. Alternatively, email me with the link to your post (my email is sasha1703 at yahoo dot com).
I promise to Pin all blogs posts taking part in this challenge, as well as RT and Google+