Every time that Jonathan goes away and leaves me with this big house to myself, I have the impulse to do two things: spend money I shouldn’t, and bake rich desserts. Buying lovely things and baking lovely desserts really triggers the same pleasing feeling in me, and I really think that the way I managed to stay afloat in Russia on $400 a month was to sink most of that into butter, flour, eggs and sugar.
(By the way, if you’re ever in Russia, Finland or Scandinavia and want to flex your culinary skills, I highly recommend you bookmark this site: Anglo-Finno-Russo-Scandinavian Food Glossary. Really helpful to figure out what’s actually in those strange packets you buy.)
Anyhow, the last two times he’s been gone, I’ve resisted spending oodles of moolah on electronics (in June I bought a new computer the first night he was gone), and instead have been getting busy in the kitchen. First, it was chocolate cupcakes with a pink buttercream frosting. Delicious, but I realize that my current go-to chocolate cake recipe might be a little too home-made tasting for me these days. I like it because it uses cocoa powder and only requires one bowl (yes, I’m lazy and don’t like setting up a make-shift double-boiler on the stove, and cleaning melted chocolate out of it later), but the taste isn’t quite what I’m looking for right now.
This time with Jonathan gone, I realized that we’d just gone food shopping and bought a huge amount of peaches, which had been on sale but were threatening to go soft and spoil in the major food-eater’s absence. So, peach pie. Easy. Except I wasn’t in the mood for just any peach pie, and I would be going to a party (tonight, as it were), and bringing some food along is only the polite thing to do. But I didn’t have enough peaches for two peach pies, one to keep and one to bring. And I didn’t have any sort of smaller pie pan to make two small pies.
But I did have muffin tins.
Hence, the idea was born to make mini pies. Not a regular pie maker, I of course consulted the internet, which told me it was a great idea and patted me on the back encouragingly. So, I went about making some mini peach pies.
On Friday morning, I made my crust, using AllRecipe’s French Pastry Pie Crust recipe, promising to be ideal for fruit pies:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoons white sugar
- 1 cup shortening
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
- 5 tablespoons water
- In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Mix well, then cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse meal.
- In a small bowl, combine egg, vinegar, and 4 tablespoons of water. Whisk together, then add gradually to flour mixture, stirring with a fork. Mix until dough forms a ball. Add one more tablespoon of water if necessary.
- Allow dough to rest in refrigerator 10 minutes before rolling out.
Next, because they were sort of juicy, and I didn’t want runny pies, I set them in a colander over a bowl to strain a bit, while I worked on my filling and crusts. The recipe I was working from didn’t mix the peaches with anything, but layered them with a butter/flour/sugar mix in the crust.
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup butter
I subbed out half the white sugar for brown sugar, and then mixed it to a crumble. Then, I rolled out my pie crusts, and using a wide-mouthed water glass, punched out the rounds for my pie crust bottoms. They took a little bit of manipulating, but they were just about the right size for my muffin tin (could have been a bit bigger, to make that pie-like lip – I’ll know next time). I layered in peaches and crumble until the cups were full, and ended up with 18 peach mini-pies, but still a lot of crust, so I made two blueberry compote mini-pies as well, using a few spoonfuls of compote that guests had left us as filling. Then, I used the remaining crusts to make lattice tops (because what’s a fruit pie without a lattice top?) and was the mini-pie lattice top expert by the time it was done. Popped them in the oven at 350, and expected them to brown quickly, but the butter content in the crust and filling just made them very bubbly. After half an hour with only the beginnings of browning, I switched the broiler on for a few minutes to get them nice and golden.
And since we’re talking about making pies, the song “Making Pies” by Patty Griffin is firmly entrenched in my mind.
The video is just a montage someone spliced together, but the song is lovely.
Off to eat some breakfast and get me to the yarn shop. Autumn is in the air, so it may be a busy day!
Entry filed under: culinary.