Maple Vanilla Pecan Pie with Sprouted Spelt Crust

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.)

Maple Pecan Pie

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.

More Holiday Goodness

If  you want more holiday goodness, check out Real Food for the Holidays – my online cooking class devoted to simple, wholesome foods for the holidays: slow-roasted turkey, Christmas cookies.  There’s 175 holiday recipes, 30 instructional videos and 30 pre-planned menus.  It’s on sale for 40% off now through Wednesday!  Check it out.

Maple Pecan Pie

Maple Pecan Pie

Maple Pecan Pie

By Jenny Published: November 20, 2012

  • Yield: 1 9-inch Pie (8 Servings)
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 40 mins
  • Ready In: 50 mins

The sweet, deep flavor of maple syrup complements the richness of pecans in this classic pecan pie. This recipe calls for well-sifted sprouted spelt flour (you can find it here as well as pasture-raised lard (learn how to render it here). I also favor using vanilla bean powder (available online) which offers a more intense flavor than vanilla extract.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sifted sprouted spelt flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
  • 3/4 cup cold lard (chopped into 1/4-inch cubes)
  • 1/2 cup very cold water
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole, unrefined cane sugar
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons butter (melted)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean powder
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves (preferable soaked overnight and dehydrated)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. 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.
  3. Remove the ball of dough from the mixer, and roll it our between 2 pieces of parchment paper until it is 1/8-inch thick. Place the disc of dough into a 9-inch pie pan and place in the freezer while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
  4. In a large bowl, beat eggs with cane sugar, maple syrup, melted butter and vanilla bean powder.
  5. 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.

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What people are saying

    • Cathy says

      Cetelia,
      I intend to make this and don’t have lard on hand. I will let you know how it works with butter. But if you try this before I do, let me know. ;)

  1. Gabrielle says

    We used to live near someone who had a commercial walnut orchard who told us about walnut pie. I love pecans but my husband prefers walnuts as they aren’t as sweet. I tried making pecan pie with walnuts and I actually preferred it…which is saying something because I don’t like walnuts.

  2. Jennifer Henry says

    Oh this looks beautiful and delicious. Is there any potential replacement for the sugar? I can eat everything else in the recipe but if I add the sugar I have a nasty reaction. Any suggestions?

  3. heather says

    Hi. I would love to make this gorgeous pie. What would be equivalent be for the vanilla powder if I am using vanilla extract? Thanks!

  4. KimH says

    I’ve got that Texas Pecan Pie love as well I only make one once a year.. and this year Im gonna have to try yours… Thanks!! Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Cathy says

      I have made pie crust with whole wheat pastry flour and it turns out fine, though not this exact recipe. I am going to try it the way you suggest (since it’s what I have on hand), and will let you know. But feel free to post your results if you get around to trying it first!

  5. says

    Pecans fall from the trees here in the South (Arkansas) in the fall like millions of tiny gifts from the majestic trees that produce them. We gather them with rolling pecan harvesters and take them to the farmers market to have them shelled by machines. Then we take home the bounty and the pie baking begins. Thank you for this recipe. I am sure I will find it authentic and satisfying as you have admitted an “unnatural love” of pecan pies. That’s a very nice way of putting it – my family likes to describe my affinity for this nutty goodness as “insane”!

  6. Emma says

    Here is an updated version of our favorite from growing up. I just made some for Thanksgiving with our family.
    Cream Cheese Pecan Pie
    10″ unbaked pie shell
    8 oz. cream cheese
    1/2 cup sugar
    1 egg, beaten
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 tsp. vanilla extract
    Combine cream cheese, sugar, egg, salt & vanilla. Spread over bottom of pie shell.
    1 1/4 cup chopped pecans
    Sprinkle pecans evenly over cream cheese mixture.
    Combine topping;
    3 eggs, beaten
    1 cup maple syrup
    1 tsp. vanilla extract
    Pour topping over pecan layer. (You can arrange 5 pecan halves, resembling a star in the center of each pie, just for facncy, before pouring topping over it.) Bake in preheated oven 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until golden brown.

  7. Lauri says

    Have you seen Mark Bittman’s pecan pie recipe? It is delicious and does not use ANY corn syrup or syrup of any kind. It would be easy to choose good sugars in the ingredients as well as other whole foods. Generally it is an excellent recipe and is easy to find on the web.

  8. Anne Schnedl says

    Why do the pecans need to be soaked, and for how long (and for how long do they need to be “dehydrated”) – all prior to making the pie?

    Could they (the pecans) be soaked (marinated?!) in whiskey prior to making the pie?

    I’ve never seen this in reference to pecan pie and it’s slightly confusing … would you be kind enough
    to clarify?

    Love the option of not needing to use corn syrup – maple syrup is a great option!

    Thanks!

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