Perhaps by now you’re aware that I do not consider myself much of a baker. Queen of the flop-cakes? Sure thang. Sunken-center baker extraordinaire? You know it. Not always, but enough to make me nervous about ever having to bake anything gorgeous and substantial for anyone who may request it. In this day and age though, you’re bound to come across cooking devices that make you feel much better about your abilities, or lend just enough confidence to leave you feeling like you could create a treat that actually looks appetizing should the need arise.
My mom sent me such a device for my last birthday, the Babycakes Pie Maker. Initially, even this mini pie maker had me nervous. What if I screwed up these little pies, too? Turns out there wasn’t too much room for worrying once I had the first batch baked. The Babycakes Pie Maker is so straightforward and easy, plus you end up with delicious mini pies that are both cute and delicious. Good for sweet pies, savory pies are also an option. You can bake up mini quiches, cream pies, fruit pies.
The first set of pies I made were a complete experiment: close to overripe blueberries, a handful of sad looking strawberries, cooked then placed in these buttery crusts. They were a huge surprise and amazingly delicious. The following recipe is the second batch of pies I attempted just days later. I liked these even more; the lemon balances out the blueberries perfectly and the crust is flaky, light, and tasty. The mini pie maker is great for allowing you to create homemade treats without overheating your house by using your oven. The only trick I’ve found is making sure to keep the dough as cold as possible right up until the pies are cooking, which ensures a flaky crust. I suppose both the filling and crust recipes could be adapted and scaled for a much larger single pie, but I’ve not personally attempted to do so yet.
Mini Blueberry Pies
For the buttery crust:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. cane sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
pinch of fresh nutmeg
pinch of sea salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cold
6-8 tbsp. ice water
For the blueberry filling:
2½ cups fresh blueberries, stems removed
½ cup cane sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
small pinch of ground cloves
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. water
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
For the pies:
2 tbsp. lemon juice
6 tbsp. confectioner’s sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
Prepare the dough for your crust: Whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Use a box grater to grate the stick of butter into your dry ingredients. Use your hands to pinch the butter into the flour, until you have what resembles a bowl of coarse crumbs (1-2 minutes). Add about half of the water, one tablespoon at a time. Use a fork to stir the water into the flour mixture, adding water as needed, one tablespoon at a time, until you have a ball of soft but not overly sticky dough. Wrap in plastic wrap, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour, but no more than 24 hours.
Prepare the blueberry filling: Combine the blueberries and sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat , stirring occasionally until the mixture begins to boil. Cook for 7-10 minutes, until the sugar dissolves and the blueberries begin to burst.
In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water. Slowly stir the cornstarch mixture into the blueberry mixture, bringing to a boil for about two minutes, until the mixture thickens significantly. Remove from heat, then stir in the cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, and lemon zest. Allow the blueberry filling to cool completely.
Prepare the pies: Roll out the refrigerated pie crust on a lightly floured surface, to about 1/8-inch thickness (much thinner than a traditional pie crust would be). Use the crust cutting tools that come with the Babycakes Pie Maker, cutting 6-8 circles for the lower pie crust and equally as many for the top crusts. Work carefully so that you don’t tear the crusts or stretch them (this morphs them when you add them to the pie maker).
Plug the pie maker in until the ready light glows green. Work with the crusts one at a time, placing the larger circle into the lower cooking reservoir. Fill with about 3 tablespoons of filling, then top with the smaller dough circle. Fill the remaining pie reservoirs. Brush the top of each pie with the lightly beaten egg, then close the pie maker and bake for 13-15 minutes, until the pies are nicely golden brown. Keep the remaining dough refrigerated while this batch cooks.
While the pies are baking, mix together the confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice. Remove the pies once they’re brown, then brush the sugar/lemon juice mixture over the top of the hot pies. Allow the pies to cool completely.
Repeat with the remaining crusts, allowing the pie maker to cool between batches. (Unplug, allow to cool opened for 5-10 minutes, plug back in and cook the second batch of pies as your did the first.)
Yields about 8 mini pies.