Pear, maple syrup and brown butter pies with cinnamon spelt crust

Pear, maple syrup and brown butter pies with cinnamon spelt crust

The Pie Project
2 × 23 cm × 10 cm pies
Kirsten Jenkins

This recipe changed my step-father’s life! Glenny – or as we refer to each other ‘Steppy’ – is married to my mum, who is one impressive woman. The one little issue with my mum, Debs, is she is a complete health nut and her idea of a dessert is a blended avocado mousse. So someone needs to look after Steppy in the dessert department and bring him a bit of joy. After photographing this recipe for the book, I packed it up and smuggled it into a family dinner for Steppy. I told him to have a small piece that night and then hide the rest for treats later in the week. One problem: the rest of the extended family got wind of Steppy’s ‘special’ dessert and he was left with barely enough to get him through the next day. — Kirsten


Quantity Ingredient
3 hard, crisp pears, peeled, (beurré bosc pears, for example)
250g dark muscovado sugar
250ml maple syrup
thick cream, to serve

Spelt pastry

Quantity Ingredient
400g spelt flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
115g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
250g cold unsalted butter, chopped
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, mixed with 125 ml cold water and 4 ice cubes

Brown butter custard

Quantity Ingredient
120g unsalted butter
1 vanilla bean, split lengthways and seeds scraped
2 eggs
110g caster sugar
50g plain flour


  1. For the spelt pastry, combine the flour, cinnamon, sugar and salt in a bowl. Add the butter pieces and toss to coat. Turn out onto a clean work surface and, using a pastry cutter (or flat-bladed knife), roughly cut the butter into the flour. Make a well in the centre and gradually add the vinegar water in 3 batches, mixing together with your hands, until a coarse dough forms. Divide in half, shape into discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 3 hours.
  2. Working with one piece of pastry at a time, roll out each piece on a lightly floured work surface to 32 cm × 17 cm. Use to line two 23 cm × 10 cm pie dishes. Trim the edges to neaten, but allow some excess to overhang the sides. Chill for 1 hour.
  3. For the pear filling, place the pears, muscovado sugar, maple syrup and 1.25 litres of water in a saucepan set over medium–low heat. Cover with a cartouche (a circle of baking paper) and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook gently for 1 hour or until the syrup is dark golden and the pears are tender. Let the pears cool in the syrup, then remove the pears from the syrup and simmer 250 ml of the syrup in a saucepan over high heat for 15 minutes or until thickened. Leave to cool.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180°C Line the two pie dishes with baking paper and baking beads (or uncooked rice or dried beans) and blind bake for 15 minutes or until the edges are just dry. Remove the beads and paper and bake the cases for a further 5 minutes or until the bases are just dry. Leave to cool completely. Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C.
  5. To make the brown butter custard, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium–high heat for 6 minutes or until it is nut brown. Add the vanilla seeds and remove from the heat. Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a bowl, then whisk the butter mixture into the egg mixture to combine. Whisk in the flour until smooth. Divide between the cooled pastry cases.
  6. Thickly slice the pears and arrange in the pastry cases, allowing the pears to rest on top of the custard. Bake for 20 minutes or until the custard is just set. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature. Drizzle with the thickened pear syrup and serve with thick cream.
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