Hello from the Old Dog Ranch kitchen! We make all of our products by hand, one batch at a time, in a certified-organic commercial kitchen in Pacifica, California.
Today we stirred up a batch of Whiskey Spice walnuts—the whole kitchen smelled like a cross between Christmas morning and your favorite whiskey bar—and ground a few handfuls of super spicy, ranch-grown peppers to flavor our Honey Rocoto walnuts.
Making our products by hand means every batch of nuts and every jar of walnut butter is prepared with love and care. It means we have the freedom to experiment with seasonal flavors and local ingredients from farmers we know and admire. It means fresh, delicious, unique products made by real people who love great food.
(Speaking of which, a highlight of every day in the kitchen is sharing a lunch of farmers market finds and produce from the ranch and Mollie’s garden. Today’s menu: avocado toast with eggs from the ranch, plus organic Frog Hollow cherries and apricots with Raw Honey and Sea Salt Walnut Butter.)
Making food by hand means a lot to us, and we love seeing what other handmade businesses do with our walnuts. One of our favorites is Three Babes Bakeshop.
Lenore and Anna; Photo by Maren Caruso.
Owners Anna Derivi-Castellanos and Lenore Estrada, both raised in California’s Central Valley, source organic ingredients from local farms for their seasonal pies and are huge supporters of sustainable agriculture and handmade businesses.
Making great pie crust from scratch with 100% real butter takes time, know-how, and a bit of science: “You have to achieve a suspension of butter in your dough so that when it hits the oven, the water in the butter evaporates and creates pockets of flaky pastry,” Anna explains. “It takes time to train our bakers to make a quality product by hand, but the difference is so obvious when you eat one of our pies!”
Anna, Lenore, and Mollie are childhood friends and share a love of the Central Valley’s agricultural heritage. Today Three Babes Bakeshop uses Old Dog Ranch’s Chandler walnuts in their famous Salty Honey Walnut pie.
“I grew up maybe ten minutes from Mollie’s family’s ranch,” Anna says. “We based our signature pie around walnuts because of our connection to the Sitkin family and our connection to that land—and because we wanted to highlight these amazing walnuts we grew up eating.”
We love being part of a handmade-food community that supports local businesses, and seeing what inventive cooks make with our walnuts. If you’re hankering for some Salty Honey Walnut pie, stop by Three Babes Bakeshop at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market or order online—or bake one yourself! Anna and Lenore generously share the recipe below.
Salty Honey Walnut Pie; Photo by Colin Price.
Three Babes Bakeshop’s Salty Honey Walnut Pie
1 (9-inch) pie shell, pre-baked*
6 ounces raw walnut halves
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn flour**
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
9 ounces honey
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped from the pod
3 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup cream, plus additional for brushing, at room temperature
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
Maldon sea salt
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the walnut halves on a large baking sheet in a single layer. Toast for approximately 8–10 minutes, or until glossy and fragrant. CAUTION: Don’t burn the walnuts! Set a timer, check periodically, and toss the nuts and rotate the pan for an even toast. Break into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch pieces when cool.
In the bowl of a stand-up mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the corn flour and salt until the mixture is thick and well combined.
Add the honey and vanilla bean seeds, blending well until thoroughly incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time with the mixer running, and then add the cream slowly, continuing to mix. Add the vinegar, and mix until the custard looks completely uniform.