I have a confession to make. I don't like to make pie crust.
I can. I have. I do. I don't like to, so I don't. I buy ready-made pie crusts. And I find that doing so has several benefits. First, my husband is lactose intolerant, so a from-scratch pie dough made with butter isn't high on my priority list. (The pie crust I use is milk and lactose free.) And, I've yet to find a vegan butter that's worked, to our liking, as a replacement. (I'm willing to try any that are sent my way.) Second, not having to make and roll out pie dough frees up time to focus on the filling.
That doesn't mean my pie crusts can't look beautiful.
This weekend, I made a strawberry-rhubarb pie with a crust made out of individual stars. Because I used a ready-made pie crust, I wasn't worried that my dough would vary in thickness for the first round of cut outs. Using three different size cookie cutters, I started in the middle of the circle with the largest star. From there, a row of medium shape cookies and then a row of smaller stars. I took the remaining dough, rolled it out, and cut out small stars.
Then, after filling the bottom shell of the pie with filling, I began laying the smallest stars on the filling, working my way around the circle. After all the small stars were on the pie, a layer of medium stars followed with the largest star in the center of the pie. I brushed the stars with water and sprinkled on sparkling sugar.
The recipe I use to make strawberry-rhubarb pie, from King Arthur, makes one 9-inch round pie or two 6-inch round pies. I've included the directions for the 9-inch pie here, as it's the one I make. And because of health issues and allergies, I'll note that instead of 1 1/4 cups of sugar, I use 1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons of Truvia Cane Sugar Blend instead. I also replace the any butter that's called for with Earth Balance Vegan Butter. I also opt for using flour as a thickener, to avoid adding more sugar to the recipe.
The pie is easy to make and a crowd pleaser. And, if you wish, make your own pie crust. I promise, I won't judge.
(From King Arthur Baking)
Prep time: 32 minutes | Bake time: 1 hour, 10 minutes | Total time: 1 hours, 42 minutes
YIELD: One 9-inch round pie
Two 9-inch round ready-made pie crusts (feel free to make you own)
1 1/4 cups sugar
5 tablespoons Instant ClearJel or 7 1/2 tablespoons unbleached All-Purpose Flour or 3/4 cup King Arthur Pie Filling Enhancer*
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 to 4 cups lightly packed diced rhubarb, fresh or frozen
3 cups strawberries, trimmed of their leaves, quartered, fresh or frozen
1 tablespoon butter
Coarse sparkling sugar, to garnish
*If using Pie Filling Enhancer cut the sugar back by 1/2 cup.
Line a 9-inch pie pan with half the crust. Refrigerate while you make the filling, for at least 30 minutes.
To make the filling: Whisk together the sugar, thickener, and salt.
Toss the rhubarb and strawberries with the sugar mixture. Spoon the fruit into the pan, filling it about three-quarters full and mounding the filling a bit in the center.
Place dabs of the butter atop the filling. Return the pie to the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
Roll out the remaining crust, and cut it into star shapes.
Place the pastry stars atop the filling. Brush with water and sprinkle with coarse white sparkling sugar.
Bake the pie for 30 minutes then reduce the oven heat to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 30 to 40 minutes until the filling is bubbling and the crust nicely browned.
Remove the pie from the oven, and let them cool for an hour or so before serving.
The pie may be served warm, but it'll be a bit messy; it sets as it cools. Top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.