I love spoiling my husband with his favorite goodies on Father’s Day. Since he’s extremely careful about his diet the rest of the time, holidays give him a chance to really dig in and enjoy. Out go the rules about no sugar or white flour, and with them the frustration of trying to adapt conventional recipes to use ancient grains and alternative oils. On holidays, I get to cook without care and he gets to eat that way. It’s a fun time for both of us!
Yesterday I knew I wanted to make him a Strawberry Rhubarb pie. That’s his very favorite, and since this is the time of year for rhubarb, it was an easy choice to make. But with the “Man Breakfast” of bacon, eggs, toast and hash browns, and the huge pan of lasagna I’d made for dinner, I knew there was no way he’d be able to eat an entire pie, too. (And I sure don’t need to eat any!)
So making mini-pies struck me as a perfect solution. He’d be able to eat as many as he wanted on Father’s Day, and I could freeze the rest to pull out on other special occasions. Win-win! The fact that I had never, ever made a mini-pie before didn’t faze me a bit.
But it should have, because it turns out that fruit-filled mini pies isn’t as easy as smooshing pie crust into a muffin tin like I did on the first batch I made. As I quickly discovered once those were out of the oven, there’s no easy way to get the pies out. Instead, you get a crushed, gooey, oozing mess. And then, if you’re me, you get stubborn and decide to make a second batch that look like what you’d envisioned.
That’s when I came up with the idea to put strips of parchment in each muffin well. Once the pies were ready, I figured, I could easily lift them out of the muffin pan using those strips. So, after rolling out my pie crust, I cut out 5″ circles with an extra-large cookie cutter and pressed them into the greased muffin wells right on top of the parchment paper strips.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: why not just use cupcake liners, Katie? I thought about that, but didn’t feel they’d be deep enough to hold enough filling. And what’s the point of a fruit pie without sweet, juicy fruit filling, I ask you?
Also, I figured when it came time to put the top crust on, I’d wind up mashing the paper liners down instead of forming the seal I wanted. Turns out, the parchment strips were a help there. After I’d cut out 3″ circles to top each filled shell, a little tug on one end of the parchment would lift the shell just enough for me to seal the top crust to it. All that was left was to brush the tops with an egg yolk wash, sprinkle them with sugar, and poke them with a fork to vent the pies as they cooked.
Into the oven they went, first at 400F for 10 minutes, then 350F for another 20. By that point, my kitchen smelled so delicious that my husband came, following his nose, to ask what I was making. The look on his face when I told him was priceless. “I can have pies today, and more in the future? Awesome!”
Neither of us could wait long enough for them to cool when they came out of the oven. That made me doubly glad for those parchment paper strips which made it so easy to lift them out and gave us a little protection for our finger tips as we took bites out of them like cupcakes. Now, if it’s been a while since you’ve felt fruit in a hot sugar syrup dribble down your chin, let me just say: DON’T BE IMPATIENT LIKE WE WERE! It’ll be days before my chin heals. Days!
Fortunately, that experience didn’t turn me off these mini-pies completely… or even a little bit, for that matter. We both loved them, and since I individually froze and then vacuum-sealed the rest, we’ll have mini-pies to last for months!
- FOR THE PIE CRUSTS:
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) very cold butter, cubed
- 1 cup ice water
- 1 egg yolk
- FOR THE FILLING:
- 1½ lb. rhubarb stalks in ½ inch slices
- 1 lb. strawberries, hulled and sliced (about 3 cups)
- ½ cup brown sugar, packed
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- pinch salt
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- MAKE THE PIE CRUSTS:
- In a food processor, blend the flour, salt and sugar for a second.
- Add the butter and process for 10 seconds until the mixture looks mealy.
- Tip the mix into a bowl and add 5 tablespoons of the ice water.
- Work the dough with your hands, adding more water as needed, until a ball forms. If the dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour. If it’s too dry, add a bit more water.
- Separate the dough into two balls. Wrap each in plastic wrap and pop them into the freezer for 10 minutes.
- Grease a muffin tin well.
- Cut strips of parchment paper.
- Remove one ball of dough from the freezer and roll it out on a floured surface.
- Cut twelve 5-inch circles out of the dough.
- Working one at a time, place a strip of parchment paper in a well in the muffin tin. Center a round of dough on top of the hole and press it in to the bottom and sides, bringing the edge to the top of the muffin well.
- Put crust-filled muffin tin into fridge for 30 minutes to chill while you make the filling. (See below)
- Fill each pie shell using a ⅓ measuring cup. Press down on the fruit while filling so it is well-packed into the hole.
- Remove the second round of pie crust from the freezer. Let it sit on the counter a few minutes until it’s pliable, then roll it on a floured surface and cut out 3″ rounds.
- Get the muffin tin out of the fridge and, working one at a time, place a 3-inch round on top of a filled hole. Seal the edges of the top and bottom crust.
- Brush the top of each mini-pie with the egg yolk and sprinkle with more sugar if desired. Using the tines of a fork, poke a hole in the top crust to vent the pie as it cooks.
- MAKE THE FILLING
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
- Bake the mini-pies at 400F for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350F and bake an additional 20-25 minutes, until top crusts are golden brown.
- Remove from oven and place the muffin tin on a wire rack for 5 minutes to cool.
- Holding the ends of a strip of parchment in each hand, carefully lift mini-pies from the muffin tin and transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.