In my recipe collection, I have an old-fashioned honey pie recipe. It’s the only recipe in my collection attributed to “Thelma Baker”. Every time I make this sweet pie, I think of her and thank God I had the pleasure of knowing her. Why? This dear lady, long deceased, was one of the sweetest people you could hope to meet.

A slice of old fashioned honey pie
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A slice of old fashioned honey pie. Photo source: Judith Salecich.

Given you are likely to have plenty of time on your hands during the present COVID-19 pandemic, you may like to make this velvety smooth honey pie for your family. It requires just a few basic, inexpensive ingredients, which you may already have in your pantry or refrigerator. If not, you should still be able to find them at your local supermarket.

Thelma Gladys Baker was born at Rockhampton, Queensland, on 20 August 1914.

Thelma was the third child and only daughter of William Henry Baker and Emma Ann Baker (nee Blow). Thelma’s older siblings were Kenneth William (born 1910) and Reginald George (born 1912).

William and Emma Baker were Christians and members of the Rockhampton assembly of the Congregational Union of Australia. Thus Thelma and her two brothers grew up in a loving, godly Christian family. As far as I am aware, Thelma’s Christian faith was an integral part of her life to the very end. When the Union dissolved in 1977 with the formation of the Uniting Church in Australia, Thelma joined the Uniting Church, to which she belonged for the rest of her life. She died on 26 July 1996, aged 81 years.

I met Thelma Baker in 1975, when she was 61 years old.

I only ever knew her as an older person. In stature Thelma was short, with a well-rounded although petite figure. She had short wavy dark brown hair (coloured I presume) and warm smiling brown eyes accentuated by the lenses and fancy frames of her spectacles. Her smooth wide brow and pale unblemished complexion belied her years. She had the most beautiful unaffected smile and her face lit up when she smiled or laughed (which was often). To top it off, Thelma had an excellent sense of dress, so she always looked immaculate.

1977. Thelma Baker, senior travel consultant, The Hub Travel Centre, Northside Plaza, Rockhampton. Photo source: Proposch Family archives.
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1977. Thelma Baker, senior travel consultant, The Hub Travel Centre, Northside Plaza, Rockhampton. Photo source: Proposch Family archives.

Thelma belonged to my parents’ generation. At first, I called her “Miss Baker”. But that didn’t last for long. She wanted to be called “Thellie”, so I obliged. Yes, Thelma (“Miss Baker”) was a single woman – she never married. It was surely not for the want of suitors, though, as she was a very attractive woman, even in her early 60s.

For decades, possibly her entire working life, Thelma worked in the travel industry.

Thelma began her career as a booking clerk for Trans Australia Airlines (TAA) in Rockhampton. As she gained more knowledge and experience, she became a travel consultant. For many years she was a senior travel advisor for the travel branch of Walter Reid & Co, Rockhampton.

In 1975, Thelma came to work for my father, as a senior travel consultant in my father’s newly established business, The Hub Travel Centre, in Rockhampton’s Northside Plaza. This is when I met her. Thelma (“Thellie”) worked at The Hub Travel Centre for 5 years, until her retirement, in 1979 (or thereabouts).

1974. The Hub Travel Centre opened in Rockhampton's Northside Plaza. Photo source: Proposch Family collection.
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1974. The Hub Travel Centre opened in Rockhampton’s Northside Plaza. Photo source: Proposch Family collection.
1977. Staff of The Hub Travel Centre, Northside Plaza, Rockhampton. Thelma Baker is pictured at left. Photo source: Proposch Family archives.
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1977. Staff of The Hub Travel Centre, Northside Plaza, Rockhampton. Thelma Baker is pictured at left. Photo source: Proposch Family archives.

Actually, it’s rather ironic (given the current circumstances) that Thelma worked in the travel industry. I wonder how she would have coped if she had found herself in a similar situation to that which employees in the travel industry are facing today?

On reflection, I think she would have been fine. She was never a person to complain or feel sorry for herself. I believe she would have made the best of the situation. And I’m sure her Christian faith would have given her solace in times such as these.

Thelma loved people.

The lady I knew was a lively, sociable person, who valued the company of others. Although Thelma never married, I doubt that she was ever lonely. Throughout her long life, she made and kept many friends, my parents included.

1994. My mother, Evelyn, with Thelma and a friend of Thelma's, Jean Crossan, at a Capricornia Silver Band Christmas concert, St Paul's Cathedral, Rockhampton. Photo source: Proposch Family archives.
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1994. My mother, Evelyn, with Thelma and a friend of Thelma’s, Jean Crossan, at a Capricornia Silver Band Christmas concert, St Paul’s Cathedral, Rockhampton. Photo source: Proposch Family archives.

When my mother turned 80 in January 1996, Thelma was one of the close friends my mother invited to the afternoon tea my husband and I hosted at our home in my mother’s honour. This was probably the last time I saw “Thellie”, as she died just six months later, in July 1996.

Thelma Baker was one of the sweetest people you could hope to meet.

Nothing was ever too much trouble for her. Her good manners were always on show. She exuded kindness. Her demeanour was always pleasant, calm and measured. Nothing rattled her. I can’t recall ever hearing her utter cross words. This gracious lady had a natural warmth that would melt the coldest of hearts.

How pertinent that the only recipe in my collection attributed to Thelma Baker is one for the sweetest of desserts!

On her own admission, Thelma Baker was not the most accomplished of cooks. Cooking was not her forté. So, when Thelma shared a recipe with her friends, it was sure to be a simple, foolproof one. That’s the case for this old-fashioned honey pie. It’s a no frills recipe that produces a surprisingly first-class result.

Honey pie ready to serve
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Honey pie ready to serve. Photo source: Judith Salecich.

But there’s one condition: To produce a perfect honey pie, you need a suitable pastry case. You can buy one ready-made, but I recommend you make your own. The end result will be much nicer.

I use my mother’s recipe for Easy Pastry. If you follow my blog, you may recall that I shared this recipe in my post Luscious Layered Orange Jelly Pie (October 16, 2017). As I explained then, my mother’s Easy Pastry recipe is suitable for inexperienced pastry cooks, it’s quick and easy to prepare, and it’s reliable. The result is a not-too-sweet pastry that’s light, flaky and crusty on the edges and (best of all), when baked, one that can be stored or frozen for future use.

A slice of old-fashioned honey pie, made using Thelma Baker's Honey Pie recipe
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A slice of old-fashioned honey pie, made using Thelma Baker’s Honey Pie recipe. Photo source: Judith Salecich.



1 cooked pastry case
Honey filling:
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon custard powder
½ cup sugar
pinch salt
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons (60 g) butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Honey pie filling ingredients
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Honey pie filling ingredients.

Cream topping:
1½ cups milk
1½ tablespoons cornflour
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon sifted icing sugar

Cream topping ingredients
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Cream topping ingredients.


To make the honey filling:

  1. Place all honey filling ingredients in a saucepan and mix well to form a smooth paste.
  2. Place saucepan on stovetop and stir constantly over medium heat until the mixture boils and thickens.
  3. Remove saucepan from stove and pour the thickened mixture into a prepared pastry case.
  4. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.

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 honey pie filling.
  6. Sprinkle cream topping with a little desiccated coconut (if desired).
  7. Refrigerate pie for several hours prior to serving.

Source: Thelma Baker


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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12 thoughts on “Thelma Baker’s Honey Pie”

  1. I love your story Judy and I like the sound of the Honey Pie recipe too. As you say I will probably have all the ingredients in the pantry. I’ll have to try it!!

  2. A nice read Judy For Thelma to work in the Travel Industry for most of her working life she must have liked what she was doing to stay in the Industry for so long. Making bookings for people and planning there trip can be an exciting experience . I know myself of some people coming to the Station to make bookings and I would say when do you want to travel? answer I dont know so I would ask them the usual questions seats,sleeper ? what do you reckon first class econ class. ? these were painful experiences especially if you had people lined up behind them. Then you would get the good ones they had every thing written down so I guess Thelma would have struck similar cases. I am glad you were able to stay friend s with Thelma thru all those years so now I know where your post the other day was heading the TAA post cheers

    • Thanks, Maurie. You are right – Thellie really loved her work. And, after so many years in the industry, she really knew “her stuff”. As you suggest, I’m sure it wouldn’t be an easy job taking people through the process of planning a trip / holiday from scratch. In days gone by we didn’t have the internet, so glossy brochures were the “in” thing, along with the consultant’s experience. I know for a fact that Thellie travelled quite a bit herself, so that helped a lot It’s interesting to read that you had to deal with rail travel inquiries, including the ones where people didn’t really know what they wanted. Memories. Thanks so much for sharing these thoughts with us/me. Best wishes, Judy.

  3. I would have liked to have known Thelma. Too. Her Honey Pie sounds delicious and I must try it. Thank you for an interesting story Judith.

  4. Hello Judy Firstly thank you for the lovely recipe Secondly about Miss Baker. Yes I
    remember her very well. and as you say a very lovely lady. I think I am right in saying
    that Thelma had to have a mastectomy fairly late in life but was always smiling as I
    remember. My Mum knew Mrs Crossan very well and when they met it was always a
    long conversation. I think Mrs Crossan was involved with the eisteddfod and helped with
    writings for the adjudicator. Another very bright and nice person. Women like these are
    a bit hard to find these days don’t you think? Once again you have been very busy I
    see. Love Margaret

    • Margaret, thanks for your lovely comments. I hope you like the recipe. Yes, I recall that Thellie had breast cancer, now that you mention it. But she lived for quite a few years after her diagnosis, I believe. She took it all in her stride. It’s good to hear your mother and Jean were friends – it’s a small world, isn’t it? I hope you and Nev stay well. You are in our prayers. Love, Judy and Tony.

  5. I just came upon your post as I was browsing the Internet about TAA, thinking of Thellie telling me about sitting under a tree at the airport, checking off the passenger manifest when she worked at Reid’s. I went to Rocky in 1978/9 (ish!) for Day & Grimes Travel when they bought Hub Travel and opened at KMart. Thellie became a very dear friend and often I would end up at her house to unwind and have a cuppa. I left Rocky at the end of 1982, but Thel never forgot my birthday or Christmas. I was able to visit her when she had to come to Brisbane for breast cancer treatment. She was such an inspiration and never lost her lovely smile and I feel so privileged to be able to say “she was my friend”. I thought of Thellie often as I tackled breast cancer twice, and how I wish current treatment could have been hers. I will be making her pie!

    • And I too have very fond memories of Thellie and her kind and gentle nature. Hi to you also Marg

  6. i am a coeliac baker and not living in australia, so gluten free custard powder not something found here, what can i use instead of custard powder?

    Usually i make my custard from scratch, would that work?


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