I started making a vegan lemon pie years ago, while visiting my parents for the winter holidays. In November, their citrus trees start producing more fruit than my parents can use, so by December they’re giving fruit away by the bagful. And since my father has a big sweet-tooth (which E. and I have inherited), he’s always looking for ways to transform those lemons, oranges, and other citrus into sugary desserts.
One year, he wanted a lemon pie, and my parents, being the gracious hosts that they are, suggested that I make it for him. I guess it doesn’t sound so gracious when I put it that way, but what they really wanted was a vegan pie that all of us could enjoy. So I found a recipe for vegan lemon pie filling in the classic Farm Vegetarian Cookbook, and the rest is history.
But it’s a history that keeps evolving. The family citrus grove seems to produce more calamondins than any other fruit (calamondins are the little smaller-than-ping-pong-ball fruits that I wrote about here and which you can see here), so a few years ago, in an effort to do something with them, I started using them instead of lemons in the pie recipe. They’re a little less tart than lemons, so the pie has less of a bite, but they do have the advantage of having a very thin rind, so the peel can just be chopped up instead of zested. The only drawback is their size: I had to juice 18 of the tiny things just to get the juice for this one pie!
I developed a new crust for the pie this year, based on an oatmeal cookie recipe, and I really believe that this is the best fat-free pie crust that I’ve ever had. Similar to a graham cracker crust, it holds up well when sliced and has a nice crumb. Now, having said that, I’m going to warn you that it’s still a fat-free crust, so to people expecting a fat-free crust it will taste great, but to the general public it may taste a little strange. If you’re going to be making this pie for other people, you might want to consider using a traditional pastry or graham cracker crust, but if you’re limiting your fat or gluten intake, this is the crust for you!
Fat-Free Oatmeal Cookie Pie Crust
Fat-free and gluten-free, this graham cracker-type crust holds up well with any pie filling.
- 1/2 cup quick oats use gluten-free oats, if necessary
- 1/2 cup sorghum flour may use whole wheat flour or a mixture of unbleached and whole wheat
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup brown sugar packed
- 2 tablespoons natural sugar
- 1/4 cup apple sauce
Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly oil a 9-inch glass pie pan. (Recipe hasn't been tested in other baking pans or without oiling the pan; omit oil at your own risk.)
Put the oats into a food processor or blender and process until finely ground. Add the remaining dry ingredients and blend well. Transfer to a bowl and add the apple sauce. Stir well until completely combined.
Put the mixture into the pie pan, and starting at the center, flatten and press it with moistened fingers until it evenly covers the bottom and extends up the sides of the pan as far as possible.
Put it in the oven and cook for 8-10 minutes, until it it is crisp but not overdone. Set aside to cool before filling.
Calamondin or Lemon Pie Filling
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon agar agar powder or 1 more tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cup soymilk or other non-dairy milk
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 cup calamondin
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped calamondin rind
Combine sugar, cornstarch, agar, and salt in a saucepan. Stir in the soymilk and water until completely combined. Bring to a boil over medium heat stirring constantly. (Please do not leave it even for a minute or you may have lumps and burned pieces in your pie filling!)
When it reaches a boil, turn the heat to low and continue to cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes.
Remove from heat and slowly stir in the calamondin juice and chopped rind. When well-mixed, pour into the pie crust. (If you have any extra, pour it into small bowls for a crust-free dessert.) Chill until set. May be served with vegan whipped topping, if you have any.
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