It's officially barbecue season, and nothing tops off an afternoon of grilled meat quite like a home made pie. I've been working on my pie decorating skills, using cookie cutters to cut shapes into the top crust of my pies. For Memorial Day, I tried something different.
I first saw pies with cut out cookies on top on Etsy and thought this was a brilliant idea. It isn't that difficult, either. In addition to a pie crust and filling, you will need cookie cutters, egg white, and a small paint brush.
For my pie, I used the Deluxe Butter Pastry recipe from The Joy of Cooking, (also featured in this pie recipe from a couple of years ago) making sure I prepared enough to be able to cut out stars of assorted sized to go on top. I filled it with a mixed berry filling of canned tart cherries and frozen blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Now, because I was planning to place cut out stars on top of the filling, I felt a filling thickened on the stove top would work out better and provide more support for my cut outs.
I used the basic fruit filling formula of five cups of fruit with juice, one cup sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and three tablespoons corn starch. I also added 1/2 teaspoon each of almond extract, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. I simmered everything on the stove top until the juices from the fruit thickened up.
While my filling cooled, I rolled out my bottom crust and prepared the pie pan. I also cut out my stars for the top.
After adding the filling to my pie shell (a soup ladle is good for this task), I carefully arranged my stars around one of the edges, brushing a little egg white on the edges to secure them to the lip of my pie shell.
I baked my pie as usual with an important exception. Because I ended up without much of a top crust, I placed an aluminum foil tent over my pie until the last 15 minutes of baking. This protected the filling and allowed me to control the amount of direct heat on my stars.
While I am pleased with the results of this first-time effort, I can also see that this is something I will be practicing throughout the year in the hopes of creating a truly brilliant pie for the holidays. But more on that later.