I recently lost a close family member to cancer. I don’t exactly want to talk about that right here, right now, but I do want to talk about pie. The first few days after the loss, I was overwhelmed with grief. I use the word “grief” as a blanket term to cover the roller coaster of emotions felt when you lose someone who you love dearly. I was finding it hard to carry on, so I decided to make pie. Or well, pies. Turns out there is something about the art of pie making that calms me down. I started to set out ingredients, measure flour, sugar etc. It was nice to have something to do besides cry and be sad. While I am not new to loss, I don’t think we ever get used to it. I know that with time, the acute pain will ease. Until then, let there be pie.
I’m going to share a few pies I made from Vegan Pie in the Sky and then I will be back with a recipe for Blackberry Pie w/ Lemon and Lavender sometime this week. 🙂
First up was this Maple Kissed Blue-Beary Pie. I made a whole wheat, maple crust for this pie rather than using the suggested crust with the recipe (which is actually quite good, but I didn’t think it right for this pie). I needed to cover the blueberries completely with leaves and crust, but as you can see I didn’t do that, so the pie was a little drier toward the top than what I would have liked.
More blueberries. These are the Blueberry Ginger Hand Pies from VPITS. I liked these a lot better than the Maple Kissed Blueberry Pie–not that the pie was bad, but these were awesome. You can’t really tell, but they also have a thin lemon glaze over the outside. I used wild blueberries to make these and I think I prefer them over regular blueberries.
This Peach-Basil Pie was amazing. Completely different from a traditional peach pie, this pie contains no brown sugar or cinnamon. Not that I’m knocking traditional peach pie with cinnamon and/or brown sugar (that ish is goooood). This pie was a nice change though. The inclusion of fresh basil was really yummy and almost made this pie taste like a pizza pie. Peach pizza. Sounds gross, but magically delicious.
This right here is a Cherry-Vanilla Pie. For the crust I busted out my organic vodka, that I have infused with vanilla bean to make it vanilla vodka (leave it long enough and it will eventually become extract). That was the first time I used vodka in a crust. While I typically don’t like vodka as a drink, it was a great addition to this crust. I also utilized my homemade vanilla cane sugar to add just a touch of sweetness to the crust and used a slightly larger amount to coat the cherries–plus lots of scraped vanilla beans (and by lots I mean 1 1/2). This recipe is my own, not from VPITS–but, most recipes for cherry pie are pretty similar. I had only attempted cherry-apple pie combos before this and never really had a success. Admittedly, I was using the wrong cherries before. I had looked for tart or sour cherries everywhere and could never find them, fresh or frozen….and there is something about syrupy cherries in a can that I can’t get past. Then one lucky day last summer, I found fresh tart cherries at Whole Foods. I bought like 4 or 5 lbs, pitted and froze them. They were what I ended up using for this pie and it was a great success. This has got to be one of the best pies I’ve ever made. I tested it on some people and everyone enjoyed it. But, as mentioned before, a lot of this pie’s wonderfulness had to do with the sour cherries doing their baking magic. Never make a cherry pie with sweet cherries–follow Isa’s advice and enjoy sweet cherries on their own and only use sour cherries for pies. You won’t regret it! Here’s hoping I can track them down again this summer.
Last, but most certainly not least is this wonder of the vegan world; Vegan Lemon Meringue Pie. Say what?!?! Yes. I only ate real meringue once or twice in my life and had never attempted anything even close to making it, so this was a definite first. And I couldn’t be more happy with how this first experiment turned out. While, I am super happy, this was not a perfect pie and could use some tweaks. Oddly, I was most afraid of the meringue not turning out, but what needs the most edits is the curd filling. I researched traditional lemon meringue pie and looked at a lot of pictures. It looked to me as if they are all pretty much the same. Shortcrust, lemon curd/custard filling, meringue topping. I made a lemon curd with lemon juice and some starch. I think next time, I should definitely do a tofu base and use some natural food coloring to dye it yellow. I’ve made lemon bars in the past and tofu sets the best. I could also add agar to my preexisting curd, but I think a tofu base is really the right direction here. An agar and starch base can always be an alternative for those who can’t have soy. Anyhow, so I’d like to make a better setting curd or filling and next time I need to balance out the sweetness of the sugar with the tartness of the lemon. There was something about the filling that was just too lemony-sweet. It tasted great, but I could only manage a few bites at a time. I also didn’t pile on all of the meringue like with traditional pies. I sort of wanted equal amounts of filling and meringue. Now I see that maybe people pile that meringue so high because the filling is so bold tasting. Either way, I’m going to replace the curd with a more subtle, yet equally as delicious lemon custard with a tofu base. For those who may be reading and thinking, ew tofu in sweets? You can’t taste it AT ALL. It serves strictly as a replacement for eggs and such. I’ve made countless desserts with tofu as base, from lemon bars, to pumpkin pie to chocolate cake and people love them. They can never taste the tofu and usually shocks and surprises them that it’s even in there.
This picture makes the pie look like it hadn’t set all of the way, but this was actually a day-old slice that I left in the fridge. Meringue sorta looses it’s umph after a night in the fridge. Either way, vegan meringue!!! Right?!?!