Baking season is beginning! Thanksgiving up until New Years is the peak season at least for me anyway. Have you ever tried making mini pies? They are cute first of all, people seem to love mini things, and second you can create a bunch of pies at one time using the same filling or mixing and matching. They are perfect for taking to your holiday gatherings or just as a simple indulgence for yourself.
Most bakers already have the tools needed to make mini pies. Most are made using a muffin pan or mini tart pans. Other options include mini phyllo shells or premade mini tart shells. Creamy fillings such as a curd would work great in the tart or phyllo shells, and pie crust is excellent for your fruit pies.
If you decide to go the fruit pie route, you can easily buy store bought crust but why not make your own? It's easier than you might think. The trick is to make sure your butter is cold and to use ice cold water when making the crust to ensure it is flaky. A food processor makes easy work of mixing up the dough without handling it too much and warming the butter. You can also use a pastry blender or two knives if you don't have a food processor. Here is a super quick tutorial on how to use the two knife method.
After your dough is made and formed into a disk it's time to refrigerate it for about 30 minutes to make sure it is cold. The colder the dough the flakier it will be and it will cut down on the shrinking that occurs while baking as well. The bits of butter will steam as the dough bakes, creating the pockets of air that puff up into distinct layers.
The filling is all up to your imagination and creativity! There are so many variations I could spend hours writing about them. I found two recipes from bloggers that use a 6" pie plate if you want to make single serve pie as well. We have a mini blueberry and a mini apple pie. You will see in the pictures for these pies they made lattice and decorative pieces to put on top of their pies. This is a great way to express some of your creativity. You can use anything from mini cookie cutters or fondant cutters, to free hand shapes. Lattice is easier than it looks because all you need to do is cut some strips and over under them on top of your pie. Here is a great tutorial from King Arthur Flour on how to weave your lattice top. Another great tip for mini pies that you will see in the video is to make sure you use an egg wash on the crust because that will give you a nice golden brown color.
Baking is a great way to slow down and live in the moment. It is also a great way to get the creative juices flowing not just with the baking or decorating, but also in the way you choose to display them when they are baked. I'd love for you to try your hand at making some mini pies for friends to spend some much needed time together, or for the upcoming holidays to wow all the family members at your next gathering. Put on your apron, gather your ingredients, and get baking!
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