Maple Pecan Pie is, perhaps, my favorite of the classic Thanksgiving pies. Pecan pie has always been a favorite (though I’m fond of pumpkin custard, too). Growing up, my mother’s south Texas favorites covered our holiday table: oyster and cornbread stuffing, seafoam salad and – of course – pecan pie. They have a place on my table, too, right next to the slow-roasted turkey and the cranberry mandarin relish.
I should clarify: the oyster stuffing and pecan pie have a place. I’ve yet to find room for the concoction of lime green Jello and Cool Whip that is seafoam salad.
My love of pecan pie is unnatural. That is, it is intense, unyielding and unforgettable. I’d eat an entire pie if I could get away with it. I’d steal it from my baby’s mouth. I sneak slivers when no one’s looking. I made one today in anticipation of keeping it until Thursday, and it’s half-gone already (though I’m not entirely at fault.)
Tempering the Sweetness of Pecan Pie
What I don’t love about pecan pie is its white sugar and corn syrup. So, a few years ago, I began making Maple Pecan Pie, that is I reduced the sweeteners, replace the refined sugar for whole and unrefined sugar (you can find it online or at well-stocked health food stores) and use maple syrup which, unlike cloyingly sweet corn syrup, offers a bit of depth to its sweetness and tempers all that sugar with minerals like manganese, zinc, and calcium.
Now a sweetener, refined or not, is still a sweetener and should be minimized, but we also need to recognize and honor the place of good food in celebration and revelry. I also use pastured lard, sprouted spelt and pasture-raised eggs in this pie – offering a bit of goodness to an otherwise decadent sweet.
- 1½ cups sifted sprouted spelt flour
- ½ teaspoon unrefined sea salt
- ¾ cup cold lard, (chopped into ¼-inch cubes)
- ½ cup very cold water
- 4 eggs
- ½ cup whole, unrefined cane sugar
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons butter, (melted)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla bean powder
- 1½ cups pecan halves, (preferable soaked overnight and dehydrated)
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Using a standmixer, whisk flour with salt, then cut in lard and continue to whisk until the flour resembles corn meal. Remove the whisk attachment, and replace it with the dough hook. Slowly add the cold water and process until the dough forms a ball that cleans the sides of the bowl.
- Remove the ball of dough from the mixer, and roll it our between 2 pieces of parchment paper until it is ⅛-inch thick. Place the disc of dough into a 9-inch pie pan and place in the freezer while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
- In a large bowl, beat eggs with cane sugar, maple syrup, melted butter and vanilla bean powder.
- Remove pie crust from the freezer, pour in filling and arrange pecan halves on top. Bake until the crust is golden, but the center is still wobbly - about 40 minutes. Allow to cool completely before serving.