I wanted a pie version of the cupcake. That is to say, a portable, easy to eat in a couple of bites, cute-as-a-button version of a slice of pie. I didn’t think that little pie tins would allow easy release of said imaginary mini-pie, so I decided to use a muffin tin. Now, I’m not going to lie. Assembling these little tiny pies is a bit of an ordeal. But in the end, you will be rewarded with little, tiny pies that are absolutely perfect for a picnic. I am going to try blueberry or peach mini-pies next.
I used King Arthur Flour’s Mellow Pastry Blend, and I have to say that I’m going to find it hard to go back to using regular all-purpose flour in my pie crusts – the pastry flour made such a difference in the flakiness and tenderness of the crust, even after re-rolling the scraps several times. A little pie-dough making tutorial is here. Also – don’t be tempted to substitute sweet cherries for the sour cherries. While sweet cherries are delicious in pies, no doubt, there is no substitute for the tart zinginess of sour cherries. Combined with the flaky buttery-ness of the crust, you’ll be in heaven. Topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream….don’t even get me started.
(Makes 12 mini-pies)
For the crust:
2 1/2 cups pastry flour or all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes and well-chilled
6-8 tablespoons ice water
For the filling:
3 cups sour cherries, washed, stemmed, and pitted
3/4 cup raw or granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
Special Equipment: Food processor, 12-cup muffin tin, 4-inch biscuit or other cutter, 3-inch biscuit or other cutter
For the crust:
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Pulse once or twice to blend.
- Add the butter and pulse several times, or until the the mixture has a course, sandy texture but still has chunks of fat about the size of a pea.
- Add 6 tablespoons of the ice water, and pulse again to combine. Pinch a bit of the dough mixture between your fingers. If it holds together, the dough is ready. If not, add additional tablespoons of ice water, one tablespoon at a time. The dough will not form a ball (you will do that later).
- Dump the mixture on a large piece of parchment or wax paper and divide the pile roughly in half. Combine each half of the dough bits into a ball, then flatten into a disk. Roll the disks’ sides on the counter to smooth (this will keep your dough from forming cracks when you roll it out).
- Wrap each dough disk in plastic wrap, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray, or lightly butter each muffin cup.
For the filling:
- Combine the pitted cherries, the sugar, and the cornstarch in a large bowl. Stir gently to combine.
To assemble and bake:
- After the dough has chilled in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, take one dough disk out.
- Roll out to 12-inches in diameter (I roll my dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper to make life a little bit easier).
- Cut out as many 4-inch circles as you can, then re-roll the scraps and cut additional circles until you have 12. If it is very hot in your kitchen, you may have to periodically refrigerate your dough to keep it from sticking. (Note: if you don’t have enough dough with the first disk to make 12 four-inch circles – it’s OK. You can use the second dough disk to finish making the rest.)
- Fit each 4-inch dough disk into the muffin cups, gently fitting the dough into the corners of each cup. Refrigerate the muffin tin while you roll the remaining dough.
- Take the remaining dough disk out of the refrigerator. Roll to 12-inches in diameter.
- Cut out as many 3-inch circles as you can, then re-roll the scraps and cut out additional circles until you have 12. Refrigerate the dough disks if they become too soft to work with.
- Remove the dough-lined muffin tin from the refrigerator. Spoon in the prepared filling (I used a size 40 ice cream scoop).
- Top each cup with a disk of dough. As best you can, pinch together the top and the bottom dough disks. (I just sort of gently pushed them together as best I could.)
- Cut vents in the top of the dough with a sharp knife.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the crust is golden brown.
- Cool completely on a wire rack. Run a flexible, sharp knife around the sides of the muffin tin to release your mini-pies.