I like to complicate things when I can. When I decided to learn how to make pies from scratch as a way to blow off steam from my stressful film producing job, I figured, why not add an extra three hours to an already arduous process?

Experimenting with creating in new media keeps me sharp, and the often nerdy subject matter of my cake art makes me smile (and then feel really bad for destroying it with all the eating, but hey, it’s the circle of life.)

Krakken Apple

This time I wanted to see if I could complicate home cooking further by adding the dimension of color. I was surprised I couldn’t find any examples of colored pie dough online. Unlike cookie dough, pie dough does not take to “blending” things well, and if you overwork it, it gets hard and rubbery. But I figured out a technique that more or less worked, though it left me looking like Lady Macbeth after I was done. This took even longer than the dragon pie – I had to estimate the size of color pieces I would need, and there were a lot of bits to cut out. All in all 5.5 hours | Filling – apples, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon, pie crust – Crisco, salt, flour, ice water, Extras – apple peels for the ship’s siding.

Boo-Berry Pie

I made this creative cake at the same time as the Splatoon, and I ran out of time by the time I got to this one… I had planned to do an intricate tessellation of mini ghosts, but in the end, opted for a quick and dirty freehand of a single ghost and some cookie cutter shapes around the edges. Why a ghost pie in June? It was my three-year-old nephew’s birthday, and he requested a ghost pie. He’s all about the ghosts right now. That’s normal, right? It took me 3 hours | Ingredients: Filling – blueberries, nutmeg, Pie crust – Crisco, salt, flour, ice water

Apple-Breathing Dragon

Creative ideas ins-Pie-ration (sorry): Game of Thrones season 5 was starting up again, and I thought “Hey, I could totally do a dragon pie crust, and make it breathe fire – apple rose fire!” I’m not good with kitchen stuff, but I figured people make pies all the time, how hard could this be? It took five hours. To be fair, the first hour and a half were just peeling apples… Making filling took about two hours, the dough about one, and the edible art another two hours to plan, cut out, and apply | Ingredients: Filling – apples, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon, Pie crust – Crisco, salt, flour, ice water, Extras – nutmeg apple peels, marble cheddar.

What I learned: Crisco is sticky and will live under your fingernails for at least a decade after touching. Therefore get all your tools out before you touch the stuff. Also, pie dough is nothing like clay – you can’t really blend pieces together. Verdict: Good! To the surprise of all, and worth trying again.

Two Owl Pie

My toddler requested I make “a two owl pie” for him. I decided on a simpler design with a bit of color and thought I would try adding in some texture to mix it up. I rolled the dough out on texture plates, and it looked pretty cool to start. It took a bit more than 4 hours. What I learned: texture needs to be really deep in pie dough, or it gets obliterated in the cooking process. Also “weaving” crust edges is harder than it looks | Ingredients: Filling – apples, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon, Pie crust – Crisco, salt, flour, ice water, Extras – cheddar legs and beaks

Toadette Pie

Why Toadette? Why not! It is a famous character, after all! It took 4.5 hours | Ingredients: Filling – apples, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon, Crust – Crisco, salt, flour, ice water, Extras – cheddar cheese.

Canadian Pop-star “Gowan” Pie

I wanted to try my hand at doing a “likeness,” I thought for a long time about who to depict, and in the end, went with my high school crush – 1980’s pop star Lawrence Gowan. He’s a strange animal. It took me 4.5 hours | Ingredients: Filling – apples, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon, Crust – Crisco, salt, flour, ice water.

Gowan Pie process

Likenesses in pies are hard… First, I had to find a good picture of him to convert into a “Warhol-esque” vector drawing, and then try to create a grid to help me freehand cut out the elements. A laser grid or some sort of guide over the pie dough would be very helpful for next time… I’m not a strong enough artist to wing it freehand unless I practice the design on paper a few times first, which I didn’t do. Still! Kinda interesting how it turned out.

Splatoon Inkling Girl

Splatoon is cool. And is currently my husband’s favorite game. It took me 4 hours to make | Ingredients: Filling – apples, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon, Crust – Crisco, salt, flour, ice water.

Splatoon Pie Process

This time I made the filling and dough the night before and put them in the fridge. I made the design the next morning – assembled the whole thing on a sheet of cellophane and then transferred over. Worked great! I tried applying the coloring directly to the cut out pieces like a wash rather than estimating how much of each color I would need and making dough balls. Gave a kind of motley effect. Really happy with how this one turned out.

Crypt Of The Necrodancer – Cadence Pixel Pie

My brother’s company was releasing his latest game, Crypt of the Necrodancer, and I thought I’d commemorate the occasion with a pie (as one does). I wanted to try out a new technique, so I thought why not try out some pixel art? My sister in law had already created a cross stitch pattern for the main character, so I used that as my reference and painstakingly placed over 200 dough “pixels” to make this pie. I moved quickly so as not to let the pie get soggy, so this one clocked in at 4.5 hours (bit of extra time because of all the colors of dough balls I had to make) | Ingredients: Filling – apples, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon, Crust – Crisco, salt, flour, ice water.

Cadence Pixel Pie process

What I learned: estimating the surface area needed for each color of dough is an art. Pastry cutters are an excellent way to make consistently sized “pixels” quickly, BUT they only allow for a 22×22 grid on a 10″ pie pan.

Cherry Centaur Pride Pie

In honor of the SCOTUS ruling on same sex marriage, I wanted to do a rainbow pie but rainbow what? I was told unicorns were “played out”, so I went with a centaur. It took me 4 hours | Ingredients: Filling – blueberries, nutmeg Crust – crisco, salt, flour, ice water.

Centaur Pie process

While I cut out the figure in advance, I foolishly tried to do the crust decoration and all the hair on the fly while the filling was already in the pie. I shouldn’t have done that. It looks a bit like playdoh threw up on it, rather than the luscious flowing mane I had envisioned… But hey, it tasted great! I also learned that cherries take a million years to pit and instantly dye any dough that touches it, so I think it’s back to apple for me, which is the yummiest anyway!