Tropical Flower Pie: A hibiscus-topped treat, because summer's not over yet
Pastry pro Arlene Lott’s secret to these terrific toppers? A super-sculptable cookie crust!
Never has a pie screamed “let’s hold onto summer just a little longer” more than this cheerful stunner. At first glance this incredible creation with tropical florals and foliage, atop a strawberry mango lime filling seems like something relegated strictly to the category of ‘order from a pastry pro’, but thanks to a helpful how-to from Arlene Lott, that’s not so true. In the video below, the ‘Princess of Pie’ walks us through how to bake this very makeable masterpiece where she shares all her tips and tricks to getting those gorgeous hibiscus flowers, monstera leaves and silver pavé domes just right. Hint: use sugar cookie dough to create the decorative elements because it will keep its shape, and it’s super sculptable. And if those cutouts are intimidating, fear not because we’ve got the downloadable templates for them below. Check out the video for her full ‘Easy as Pie’ guide to creating this tropical flower treat, then scroll down to grab the full recipe.
Tropical Flower Pie
By Arlene Lott
In the pie crust, vegetable shortening can be used in place of the lard for those who don't eat pork or meat in general. The vodka won’t add any flavour to the crust, but it’s said to prevent gluten from developing, resulting in a more tender crust.
Vodka Pie Crust:
- 5 ¾ cups of flour (divided) plus more for dusting surface
- 1 ½ tsp sugar
- 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 ½ cups cold butter, cut into ½ inch pieces
- 6 tbsp cold lard, cut into ½ inch pieces (see note above)
- 6 tbsp ice-cold water (ice water is best)
- 6 tbsp cold vodka
Strawberry Mango Lime Filling:
- 600 g sliced strawberries (fresh or frozen)
- 600 g sliced mango (fresh or frozen)
- ¾ cup sugar (divided)
- ⅓ cup cornstarch
- ¼ cup lime juice (or a splash of tequila or white rum)
- 2 tbsp butter
- 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
- Printed and cut out grass templates (see below)
- Muffin tin
- Tin foil
- Spritz bottles for ‘painting’
- Small, leaf-shaped fondant moulds
- Small, oven-proof bowl
- Gel food colouring (red/orange and green)
- White candy melts
- Edible gold paint
- Silver dragées
For the pie crust:
Cut butter and lard into ½ inch pieces and place in fridge or freezer to keep cold. Combine 2 cups of the flour along with the sugar and salt in your food processor. Using a food processor helps keep the crust flaky.
Add butter and lard cubes to the flour in the food processor 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 ice cold water and cold vodka over top of the dough. Pulse food processor a few more times until the pastry comes together in a ball. Turn it out onto a table and use hands to bring any loose pieces together and divide it in half. Wrap each separately in plastic wrap, and flatten into two 6" x 1" thick discs. Place them in refrigerator to chill for at least 45 minutes before rolling. Note: This recipe makes enough pie dough for 2 Tropical Flower Pies.
Generously flour your counter and pin, and roll out one disc of pastry to ⅛ inch thickness, roll 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.
For the pie filling:
Preheat oven to 350F.
Bring fruit and ½ cup of the sugar to a simmer over medium heat. Stir frequently, mashing the fruit as you go for about 20 minutes until it’s smooth-ish with a few chunks. Return to heat and keep simmering while you make the thickener.
In a small mixing bowl whisk together cornstarch and the remaining ¼ cup of sugar until the powders are well mixed. Add in the lime juice and whisk till you have a smooth liquid with no lumps. Pour into the cooked fruit and stir quickly with rubber spatula, making sure you get the bottom of the pot as you stir, until the mixture is thick and glossy (this should take less than 2 minutes). Once thickened, stir and allow to simmer for 60 seconds, then remove from heat, stir in butter, and set aside to cool to room temperature.
Pour into unbaked pie crust and bake for an hour until pastry is browned.
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.
For the pie toppers:
Preheat oven to 325F degrees.
Scrunch up balls of tinfoil and place in muffin tin. Spray the tinfoil, and the tin (including the surface) with nonstick cooking spray. Shape various petal sizes by hand — add in veining using cake decorating tools or the end of a paintbrush. Lay on top of foil balls so they take on an organic, petal shape as they bake. Place in the freezer for 4 minutes, then bake for 6-8 minutes, until they are pale with lightly browned edges. Form into a flower by joining the base of your petals together using melted candy melts as glue. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes until the candy melts are set. To ‘paint’, add 2 drops of gel food colouring to a spritz bottle with 2 ounces of vodka. Shake until combined and spray gently until you reach your desired saturation. Paint veins with edible gold paint.
Leaves and grass:
Make small, detailed leaves by pressing cookie dough into small, leaf-shaped fondant moulds. Gently transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place in freezer for 4 minutes then bake for about 5 minutes. They should be pale with lightly browned edges. Allow to cool completely before painting with edible gold paint.
Large grass and Monstera leaves can be cut by hand into desired shapes (or use these handy templates). Once cut, place in freezer for 4 minutes and bake for 8-10 minutes or until pale with lightly browned edges. Using the same method as above with green gel food colouring this time, ‘spray paint’ each piece.
Cut a circle of dough using a small, oven-proof bowl. Turn the bowl upside down on a cookie sheet and spray with cooking spray. Cover the bowl with a couple of thin strips of parchment and then place your circle of dough on top. Brush with egg whites, cover in silver dragées and gently push dragées into the dough until they stick. Place in the freezer for 4 minutes, then bake for about 8 minutes. Allow to cool on the bowl.
Paint the edge of the pie crust with edible gold paint then assemble all your pieces on top.
Yield: Makes one pie; enough pie dough for 2 Tropical Fruit Pies