This post features another one of my mother’s heavenly sweets: Orange Jelly Pie. It also includes my mother’s recipe for Easy Pastry, a sweet pie pastry I can recommend for busy folk or inexperienced pastry cooks (like me).

And, if you are not aware of the difference between a pie and a tart, you’ll find an explanation here.

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My mother’s luscious layered Orange Jelly Pie served. Photo source: Judith Salecich 2018.

I have fond memories of my mother’s layered Orange Jelly Pie.

I remember it well. With its three layers – pastry, orange “jelly” and white “cream” topping – it’s colourful and appealing to the eye. The filling is luscious, smooth, sweet (but not too sweet) and tangy to the taste buds and its pastry is light, flaky and crusty. Note: The pie’s orange jelly filling is not made using gelatine (as its name might suggest) nor is the white topping made from cream.

My Orange Jelly Pie. Photo source: Judith Salecich 2018.
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My Orange Jelly Pie. Photo source: Judith Salecich 2018.

A reminder of days gone by…

My mother’s Orange Jelly Pie reminds me of days gone by when most Australian home cooks prepared something sweet to serve at the end of the evening meal. Certainly, this was the case in my childhood family. My mother always made something special for dessert. As children, we had to eat our first course (typically meat and three vegetables) before we were allowed to have sweets. In those days, we called the sweet course at the end of the meal “pudding”, regardless of what it was.

The Sullivan family having a meal, Drouin, Victoria, c. 1944. Photo by Jim Fitzpatrick. National Library of Australia. Public domain.
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The Sullivan family having a meal, Drouin, Victoria, c. 1944. Photo by Jim Fitzpatrick. National Library of Australia. Public domain.

In a previous food story, Fail-Me-Never Steamed Pudding (August 3, 2016), I wrote about my favourite puddings, the origin of puddings (both savoury and sweet) and three methods of cooking puddings (steaming, baking, boiling). There I shared my mother’s recipe for Fail-Me-Never Steamed Pudding, which is one of my favourite hot puddings. (You might like to try it.)

A pie or a tart?

My mother called her recipe “Orange Jelly Tart”, but I have renamed it “Orange Jelly Pie”. It’s not a tart but a pie. I’ve learnt that there are several distinguishing features of pies and tarts. While both may be savoury or sweet and combine pastry and a filling, pies and tarts are made differently.

Here are the main differences:

  • The baking pan. A pie dish or pie plate is circular with sloping sides and is usually made of pyrex, ceramic or metal. A tart pan is shallow, circular or rectangular, with vertical (or near vertical) smooth or fluted sides. Tart pans are commonly made of metal or flexible silicon, and come in various sizes.
  • The type of pastry. The pastry for a pie is usually light, flaky and crisp, whereas for a tart it is firm, rich and crumbly.
  • The use of pastry. A pie has a pastry base and filling and may be left uncovered or have a layer of pastry placed on top. A tart has a pastry base and filling and no pastry topping.
  • How they are served. A pie is served directly from the dish in which it is prepared. On the other hand, a tart is removed from its baking pan before serving and placed on a serving plate. Some tart pans have removable bottoms so the prepared tart can be removed easily and cleanly.
Selection of pie and tart baking pans: A pyrex pie dish, aluminium tart pan with removable bottom and a ceramic tart dish. Photo source: Judith Salecich 2018.
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Selection of pie and tart baking pans: A pyrex pie dish, aluminium tart pan with removable bottom and a ceramic tart dish. Photo source: Judith Salecich 2018.

Clearly, the choice of pastry is important in making a great pie or tart.

In Grandma’s Easy Lemon Meringue Pie (June 14, 2017), my daughter included my mother’s recipe for Easy Pastry. She used it as the pastry base for her Easy Lemon Meringue Pie. In case you missed it, I’m sharing it here. I love this recipe and it’s just perfect as the pastry base for my mother’s Orange Jelly Pie. Why?

Because it’s:

  • suitable for inexperienced pastry cooks (like me)
  • quick and easy to prepare (it does not require kneading or resting)
  • reliable (it won’t fail)
  • sweet but not too sweet
  • light, flaky and crusty on the edges
  • able to be stored (or frozen), when cooked, for future use.

You can serve this luscious layered Orange Jelly Pie as the sweet climax of an evening meal (I can guarantee it’ll be a hit with guests) or as a special treat for morning or afternoon tea. I’m sure everyone will be impressed. If not all consumed at one sitting, the Orange Jelly Pie keeps well for several days in the refrigerator.

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Orange Jelly Pie served. Photo source: Judith Salecich 2018.



1 large cooked pastry case

Orange jelly filling

1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon butter
2 cups water (or 1 cup water and 1 cup of purchased orange juice)
2 tablespoons custard powder
1-2 oranges (for ½ cup fresh orange juice)
Grated rind of 1 orange

Ingredients: Orange jelly filling. Photo source: Judith Salecich 2018.
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Ingredients: Orange jelly filling. Photo source: Judith Salecich 2018.

Cream topping

1½ cups milk
1½ tablespoons cornflour
30 g (1 tablespoon) butter
1 tablespoon icing sugar
Handful of desiccated coconut (optional)

Ingredients: Cream topping. Photo source: Judith Salecich 2018.
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Ingredients: Cream topping. Photo source: Judith Salecich 2018.


To make the orange “jelly” filling:

  1. Grate rind of 1 orange. Juice 1-2 oranges to make ½ cup fresh orange juice.
  2. Mix the custard powder, orange juice and rind until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Place the sugar, butter and water (or half water, half purchased orange juice) in a saucepan and heat on stovetop until nearly boiling.
  4. Add prepared custard powder and orange juice to the saucepan, stirring constantly until the mixture boils and thickens and becomes clear (about 2 minutes).
  5. Add the orange “jelly” to the pastry case and spread evenly. Set aside.

To make the white “cream” topping:

  1. Mix a little of the milk with the cornflour to make a wet paste and set aside.
  2. Place remainder of the milk in a saucepan and heat on stovetop until nearly boiling.
  3. Add cornflour paste and stir constantly until the mixture boils and thickens (1-2 minutes).
  4. Remove from stovetop and add the butter and icing sugar, stirring constantly until smooth.
  5. Spread carefully over orange jelly filling.
  6. Sprinkle cream topping with a little desiccated coconut (if desired).
  7. Refrigerate pie for several hours prior to serving.
Source: Evelyn Proposch
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Slice of my mother’s luscious layered Orange Jelly Pie. Photo source: Judith Salecich 2018.


Makes 2 sweet pastry cases


60 g butter or margarine
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup milk
1 egg
1½ cups Self Raising Flour


  1. Heat together butter, sugar and milk and stir to blend.
  2. When butter is melted, remove mixture from stove and stir in beaten egg.
  3. Add the flour to the mixture and work into a ball. Add extra flour if necessary to make a workable dough. It is a fairly soft dough.
  4. Halve the dough (it makes two medium-size pastry cases).
  5. Roll thinly onto floured baking paper, then invert over lightly greased and floured pastry plate. Do not stretch.
  6. Trim edges with a sharp knife. Using a fork, prick the dough on the base of the pastry plate.
  7. Repeat for the second pastry case.
  8. Bake in a moderate oven about 10 minutes, or until pastry cases are lightly brown.
  9. Allow pastry cases to cool completely before adding fillings.
Source: Edna Becker (via Evelyn Proposch)
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Judith Salecich

Writer, researcher, former secondary and tertiary teacher and public servant, wife, mother, grandmother, child of God, photography enthusiast, lover of life, history, food and all things creative.

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18 thoughts on “Luscious layered Orange Jelly Pie”

  1. Judy, this recipe brings back memories. My Mum made this recipe but made it as a slice often with lemon instead of orange. It became known as Matthew’s Slice in our family as it was a favourite of her grandson Matthew. I still make it sometimes. Emma makes a milk free version as she is lactose intolerant. It’s lovely in the hot summer weather.

    • Gwen, thanks for sharing about your mother’s version of this recipe. Turning it into a slice is a good idea. And a lemon version sounds great too. And the topping can be made with a milk substitute, as you suggest. Lovely.

  2. Hi there,
    Tried this recipe, but not very successfully. The filling refused to thicken without extra custard powder and even some cornflour. How thick must it, and the topping, be before coming off the heat? Also should the filling be allowed to cool in the pastry case before the topping is added, and can the topping be put on while still hot? When I did so, it sank into the filling!
    Having said all that, the pie is still in the fridge and I don’t yet know if it’ll set or how it’ll taste. Just keeping fingers crossed…

    • Charles, I’m so pleased you tried the recipe…but I’m so sorry it didn’t work out well for you. Make sure you use two FULL tablespoons of a good custard powder, and you must continue stirring the orange mixture over the heat until it comes to the boil and thickens. Turn down the heat and keep stirring for a couple of minutes. When you pour the orange mixture into the pie shell it will already by like a jelly. You can put it into the fridge if you like, while you prepare the cream mixture. Likewise, the cream mixture must be thickened similarly. You could leave it to cool for a few minutes before spreading VERY CAREFULLY on top of the orange layer. It should not collapse. Please let me know how you get on next time. Best wishes, Judy.

  3. Hi Judy,
    Thanks for your reply. I was using a “light” supermarket own-brand custard powder, which was probably a mistake.
    However, I’ve noticed that different countries have different cup and spoon sizes. Could you tell me please, what the sizes used in this recipe are in ml? I’m in the UK.
    Regards, Charles

    • Charles, thanks for letting me know where you live. You are right – the tablespoons we use in Australia are bigger than those used in Europe, the UK and NZ. Ours holds 20 mL; yours only 15 mL. That explains a lot. You will need to use 3 of your size tablespoons for every 2 tablespoons in this recipe. Our cup size is 250 mL. Is that the same as yours? And yes, a good quality custard powder is recommended. I hope you try the recipe again. Let me know if you do. It really is a very nice pie! All the best, Judy.

  4. Hi Judy,
    I believe the British cup size is 240ml, but we happen to have a 250ml cup at home which I use.
    I hope to try the recipe again with the adjusted tbsp amounts but, having failed before, I have to psych myself up for it first!
    Regards, Charles

  5. I first made this in Domestic Science lessons in primary school… My Dad loved it, so I made it often for him. Then forgot about it till my children were small and made it one rainy day for them… They loved it… and of course, since they helped make it, we had to take some to Nana and Grandad… Dad put his order in again, so it appeared now and then.
    It’s years since I I’ve made it now, but I think it deserves an encore!

  6. Thank you so much for publishing this recipe! My aunty used to make this when I was a child and I made it when my girls were little, but had since lost the recipe and had been looking everywhere for it. Can’t wait to make it again.

    • Dear Kelly
      Thanks for your response to my blog story and recipe. I’m so glad you’ve rediscovered the recipe. I do hope you were happy with the result.
      Best wishes, Judy.

  7. I have been trying to make this pie for some time. Mum made it when we were kids but I only watched. Have looked through so many recipe books trying to locate it. Cannot wait yo make it now for my children. One of my few memories of my mum

    • Dear Karen
      Thank you for your feedback about the Luscious Layered Orange Jelly Pie. I’m so glad you discovered the recipe!
      You may like to let me know how it turns out, if it lives up to your expectations (after so long).
      Best wishes, Judy.

  8. I tried this recipe but also couldn’t get the orange mixture to thicken and after the recommended 2 minutes the consistency was barely changed? It took over 10 minutes to look what I would usually consider thickened.
    Unfortunately this meant the filling was overdone and too sticky. When you say ‘thickens’ how thick are we talking? Should I have just poured it in the shell after 3 or 4 minutes when it was still just liquid and hoped for the best? I really hope you can help as this was my favourite recipe of mums and she has passed so I can’t check 🙁

    • Dear Maree. I am very sorry to read that your attempt to make the Orange Jelly Pie failed. Did you use enough custard powder? It requires 2 Australian metric size tablespoonsful. Did you heat the mixture, stirring, until it came to the boil? Initially, when you add the custard powder to the orange and water mixture it appears clouded; after it comes to the boil, it soon clears and thickens. I wonder if you didn’t bring it to the boil. These are my suggestions. Please let me know if this helps. The recipe has never failed for me. 
      Kind regards, Judy.

  9. Hi Judith, my mum made this as lemon jelly tart. I also made it but lost the recipe. Most of it seems the same but I cannot remember using custard powder. Would the lemon jelly still be clear and translucent if using custard powder? I have some recollection of using arrowroot but don’t know where. Please help want to make it tomorrow. Thanks in advance

    • Hi Karen, I also made this as lemon jelly tart with my mother about 60 years ago. I still have her recipe but it is packed away as we are moving house. Arrowroot was used in the lemon version because it becomes very clear when boiled as opposed to cornflour or custard powder which give a slightly milky look. We didn’t use custard powder at all. The “cream” topping is really old fashioned blancmange. Recently I had a yearning to try it, googled it and came up with Judy’s orange recipe. I worked in food all my life and have never come across the tart/pie recipe before.

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