Arlene Lott's colourful lion pie topper is deceptively simple to make and sure to get the crowd roaring
On dessert duty for your Pride celebration? This colourful and easy-to-make topper is the perfect centrepiece
When we challenged our 'Princess of Pie', Arlene Lott to create a dessert in celebration of Pride, she designed something that's colourful, impressive and inspiring but also really easy to put together. This lion topper is made with cookie dough, which is much more forgiving than pastry, so it's a great project for bakers at every skill level — and a fun project to do with kids.
Orange-infused Blueberry Pie Filling:
- 8 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
- Zest of 2 oranges
- 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- ⅔ cup sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 6 tbsp cornstarch
- ⅓ cup water (or more orange juice if you have it)
- 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp cardamom powder
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
*Note: This makes enough for a double crust pie, you can halve the recipe below, or make the whole recipe and freeze the extra half, wrapped well in plastic for up to three months.
- 1 ½ cups cold butter
- 6 tbsp cold lard
- 5 ¾ cups of flour (divided) plus more for dusting surface
- 1 ½ tsp sugar
- 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
- 6 tbsp ice cold water (ice water is best)
- 6 tbsp cold vodka
Best Vanilla Cookie Dough:
- 1 ½ cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1 ¾ cup white sugar
- ¾ tsp salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1 ½ tbsp vanilla extract
- 4 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 9.5" x 1.5" deep pie plate
- Printed and cut out stencil for the pie (in this case, a lion)
- Large teardrop shaped cookie cutter
- Gel food colouring
For the orange-infused blueberry pie filling:
In a 4 litre saucepan, combine the blueberries, orange zest and juice, sugar and salt. Stir and cook over medium heat until the liquids begin to simmer.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, make the thickener. Combine the sugar and cornstarch well, then add ⅓ cup water and stir until smooth.
Once berry mixture begins to simmer, pour in the thickener and stir until glossy and thick. This happens pretty quickly — in about 3 minutes. Simmer the thickened filling for about a minute, then remove from heat. Add in the spices if you're using them, and then add in the butter. Stir until the butter melts and combine well. Remove from heat and allow the filling to cool at least to room temperature.
For the pie dough:
Cut butter and lard into ½ inch pieces and place in the fridge or freezer momentarily to keep it cold. Combine 2 cups of the flour with the sugar and salt in the bowl of your food processor (using a food processor helps keep the crust cold and therefore flaky). Add the cold butter and lard cubes, and pulse about 6 times for 2-3 seconds until the fats resemble coarse crumbs with some cottage cheese-sized pieces. Then add the rest of your flour and pulse again. Sprinkle the ice cold water and cold vodka over top, and pulse a few more times until the pastry dough comes together in a ball.
Turn out the dough onto a clean surface and use your hands to bring any loose pieces together, then divide it in half. Wrap each separately in plastic wrap, and flatten them into two 6-inch x 1-inch thick discs. Place one in the refrigerator (freeze the other for another use, see note above*) to chill for at least 45 minutes before rolling.
Generously flour your counter and pin, and roll out pastry to ¼ inch thickness, roll dough around a rolling pin and gently unroll over top of an empty pie plate. Press and form into pie plate. Trim off any excess dough that hangs over the edge of the pie plate and use a fork to make indentations along the crust.
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.
Chill the pie crust for 30 minutes, while you work on your decorations. Place a piece of parchment paper in the chilled crust and fill it with dried beans, rice or pie weights. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until it is completely cooked through. Carefully remove the hot parchment paper and beans. Cool the crust to room temperature. Fill your pie shell with the cooled filling just before you are ready to decorate.
For the cookie dough:
Cream the butter, sugar and salt in a mixer until it is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and whip until well combined. Add in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add in the flour a bit at a time, until a firm dough forms. Pour out the dough onto a clean surface and knead until it all comes together. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
To make the lion:
Place the printed stencil on a baking sheet, and place a sheet of parchment paper on top; you will build your cookie shape right on top of this, using it as your template. Roll the sugar cookie dough between your hands to warm it a bit (reserve some for the leaves in the next section), and then press it into place on top of the parchment, following the stencil showing through underneath. Pinch and adjust the dough as needed to get the shapes right, and make sure you press all of the pieces together at the bottom so all of the pieces connect. Use the end of a paintbrush or a chopstick to help you make any small grooves and details. Once you are done, slide the pattern out from underneath and chill the dough on the parchment paper in the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes. Then bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the dough. Do not brown.
For the cookies:
Roll the rest of the sugar cookie dough out to about a 3/16-inch thickness, dusting it with flour to ensure it won't stick. Using the large teardrop shaped cookie cutter, cut out enough shapes to go around the edge of the pie. Using spoons or a flat whisk, gently press some indentations into the round part of the teardrop. Chill for 30 minutes. Bake for 7-9 minutes; do not brown.
For the watercolours and painting:
In separate small bowls, mix one drop each food colouring paste with about 1 tablespoon of vodka. Mix together well. Paint the lion and the cookies, starting light and adding more colour if desired.
Place your cookies around the edge of your filled pie, and then place the lion right on top. Serve immediately.
Yield: Makes one pie