With Thanksgiving around the corner, pie season is in full swing. I am a big pie fan and that got even worse since I started making my own dough. It’s so easy and the difference is amazing. So with pies going in and out of the oven all month, one of my favorite things to do is come up with new ways to decorate them. For a long time I played with variations of leaves but this year I am going for owls. Yes, owls! Owls are one of the cutest fall icons and lucky for me, they are everywhere this year, from pillows to t-shirts. But how do you transfer that to pies? As always, all it takes is a little imagination. Here is how to make them:
- For the pie dough:
- 3¾ cups flour
- 1½ cup unsalted butter, cold, in small pieces
- Dash of salt
- 10½ tbsp ice cold water
- For the filling:
- 1 50oz can of Pumpkin Pie Mix
- ⅔ cup evaporated milk
- 2 eggs
- Make the dough: Place 1¼ cup of flour, a dash of salt and ½ cup of cold butter cut in pieces in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the butter is in tiny pieces. With the motor on, slowly add 3½ tbsp of ice cold water and mix until the dough forms a ball (about 6 seconds). Cover dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Repeat twice to get a total of 3 dough disks. Once the dough is cold, roll it out to ⅛" thick and place into pie molds.
- Make the pie filling: In a large bowl, mix 50oz of pumpkin pie mix with 2 eggs and ⅔ cup of evaporated milk. Pour into pie shells and bake at 350 degrees F for 50 minutes.
- Make the lattice: Roll out the last dough disk to ⅛" thickness and follow decoration instructions below. Bake lattice at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.
- Assemble before serving
Let’s start with our dough. We need to make 3 batches to have enough for pie shells and decorations. If you decide to use store-bought dough, get 2 packs of 2. To make dough, place 1 1/4 cup of flour, a dash of salt and a stick of cold butter cut in small pieces (1/2 cup) in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to break the butter into tiny pieces. Then slowly add 3 1/2 tbsp of ice cold water with the motor running and continue to mix until the dough becomes a ball. It only takes about 6 seconds.
Shape your dough into a disk, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Repeat twice to have 3 disks of dough.
Roll out 2 of those disks to 1/8″ thick:
For this project, I am using a mini tart pan but you can use stand-alone mini tart molds. To cut the dough into circles of the right size, look for a bowl that is slightly larger than your tart mold. Place on top of the dough and use as a guide to cut circles. It takes 2 disks of dough to make all 6 pie shells:
Place each dough circle into a pie mold and press into shape. Refrigerate while you preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare your pie filling:
In a large bowl, place 30oz. of Pumpkin Pie mix, 2/3 cup of evaporated milk and 2 eggs:
Mix until combined:
Pour into pie shells:
Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the pumpkin filling comes out clean. Let the pies cool completely:
Now let’s work on our owl lattice tops. Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Using a bowl that is the same size as your pie shell, trace circles on the parchment paper. This will be our guide to shape the owls into the right size:
Flip the parchment paper so the pen side is down:
Let’s first shape the top part of our owl. Roll out your last disk of dough to 1/8″ thick.
Using the same bowl you use as a guide, place on dough and cut a circle.
Now place the bowl on the top left corner of the circle and use to cut the bottom part halfway. Repeat on the right side:
Using a small circle cookie cutter, cut out the eyes:
Then using a tiny circle cookie cutter, cut out the pupils:
Place the top part of the owl on the parchment paper, lining it up with the drawn circle:
Now let’s work on the feathers. I am using a teardrop-shaped cookie cutter. A small leaf cookie cutter would work great too. Cut feather shapes out of the dough:
Using the drawn guide line and starting with the bottom of the body, line feathers next to each other:
Now do the next row, covering the top half of the previous row of feathers:
Continue until you are all the way up to the eye shapes. Cut out a tiny beak:
Place the same bowl you had used as a guide on top of the owl, aligning it with the drawn guide line. Cut off everything that sticks out beyond the bowl:
Before baking I cut out tiny hearts out of dough and placed in the top corners to mimic some feathers sticking out. Brush the owls with a simple egg wash (1 egg and a splash of water or cream) and bake at 350°F for 20 minutes until the lattice turns golden brown:
Before serving, cover each pumpkin pie with an owl lattice: