Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Why of the Cutie Pie

Hethyr:  A few posts ago, I mentioned several things that I was excited to share with you.  I've shared most, but this is, without a doubt, the most sickeningly cute entry of the lot.

Bounty from a recent swap
As you faithful readers know by now, we’ve been attending some community swaps where people show up with handmade/homegrown goods to swap with other like-minded barterers.  It is amazing to see the variety of the goods that are brought.  I’ve seen farm-fresh eggs, handmade washcloths, homegrown herbs, fresh herbed ricotta, flavored raw butters (mine included), bread still warm from the oven, chocolate-covered bacon, gluten-free peanut butter cookies, strawberry-rhubarb egg rolls, etc, etc, etc.  Everything we’ve swapped for has been incredible.

Obviously, there is extensive thought and creativity that goes into each item, so I’m always trying to come up with new and different ideas that will grab folks’ attention.  While surfing the internet one day looking for ideas, I came across several blogs that talked about pies baked in glass jars.  They were so cute, I almost puked.  I knew immediately that I needed to make some to take to a swap, but there are several regular participants who have Celiac disease.  As I didn’t want to exclude them from these disgustingly precious pies, I decided to make them gluten-free.

See, I cheat sometimes, too!
I am always a fan of making things from scratch when possible and I fully planned on making my own crust, but I couldn’t find one of the ingredients even at the health food stores in town.  I had to settle for using a pre-made gluten-free crust from Whole Foods.  Actually it was a great crust – I just usually prefer to make my own everything.  I will give you the link to the recipe I was going to use, just in case you’re able to find all of the ingredients and want to try making it on your own (you over-achiever, you).  You can also just as easily use a regular homemade or store-bought pie crust – it doesn’t have to be gluten-free.

Those of you who have been reading our blog for a while will probably remember our overabundance of rhubarb and blueberries this spring/early summer.  I figured this was the perfect opportunity to use some more of each.  We also had a good supply of pie cherries frozen from last year, so I decided to make use of those as well.  Good thing since we got more pie cherries in our CSA just a couple of weeks later.  Oh, and we received four more pounds of rhubarb a couple of weeks ago, bringing our 2011 total to 25 pounds so far!  :/  It’s a really good thing we like rhubarb!

Anyway, I knew these pies would be a hit once I saw how stinking adorable they were.  And I was right – they went like hotcakes.  I was really glad that I stashed a few away in the freezer at home since I got rid of them all so quickly at the swap.  My friend had the great idea to use this same concept to make savory, single-serving pot pies in the colder months.  That’s one I’ll definitely be trying!

Nauseatingly Adorable Tiny, Tiny Pies in Jars (Gluten-Free)
Makes 4 tiny, tiny pies

  • Half-pint (8 ounce) mason jars with lids (short and fat instead of tall and skinny)
  • Gluten-free pie crust (from scratch or store-bought; one 9-inch crust makes about 4 pies)
  • 2 cups fruit, peeled, pitted, diced, etc. (use your imagination – I made Bluebarb and Cherry for the swap and Bluebarb-Cherry for home)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons brown sugar (depends on the sweetness of your fruit)
  • 2 tablespoons gluten-free all purpose baking flour
  • Spices and such (nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, extracts like vanilla or almond, citrus zest, etc.)
  • 1 tablespoon butter, plus additional for brushing tops
  • Sugar for sprinkling tops

1.  Roll out a small section of dough for the tops of the pies.  Using a lid band from one of the jars, cut out 4 circles.  Set aside.

2.  Press the rest of the dough evenly against the insides of the ungreased jars.  You don’t have to roll out the dough – you can just press, piece by piece, until the dough is up to the top of the jar.

3.  Mix together prepared fruit, brown sugar, GF flour and any spices and such you’re going to use.  Divide evenly between the jars, then dot with butter.

4.  If desired, cut cute shapes in the tops with a cookie cutter (I used a “B” for bluebarb and a “C” for cherry).  Position tops on pies, then use a fork to seal the two pieces of dough together.   Trim any ragged edges and, if you decided not to cut cute shapes in the top, vent to allow steam to escape.

5.  Brush tops with butter and sprinkle with sugar.

6.  Position lids and seal tightly.  Store in the freezer.
7.  To bake:  Remove lids and place jars on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Place baking sheet in a cold oven and then set the temperature to 375°F.  Bake for about 60 to 75 minutes or until the filling is bubbly and hot and the top is golden-brown.  If you’re baking from fresh, bake time will be less.

8.  Let cool for a few minutes, then eat straight out of the jar.  They’re even better topped with ice cream!

* Notes:  I've used even smaller jars for this... a 4-ouncer is the perfect size for me.  Bake time is a little less than stated above. Also, for a little variety, try using a crumb topping instead of pie crust.

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Jon:  There are oodles of things in this world that I don’t understand.  In fact, if ignorance were food, I’d be a watermelon.  See, that didn’t even make sense.  The point is that there are constantly things going on around me that I don’t get.  I suppose you could call those the great questions of life.  Why are we here?  What happens to us when we die?  Why do women love things that are shrunk down to a fraction of their normal size?

A pie is a fairly universally-enjoyed food item, right?  People look at a nice cherry, rhubarb or apple pie and they think about how tasty it looks.  But shrink it down to a tiny size and it immediately enters the adorable zone.  When Hethyr and I were at the community swap, I spent some time sitting next to her tiny pies and watched the reaction of the women as they approached.  It typically went something like this:

(slight gasp).  “What is that????”  (brief pause).  “Oooooooooohhhhhhhhhh, it’s a tiny pie!  Oooooohhhhhh, it’s soooooooo adorably cute!!!”

Somehow the realization that this little jarred dessert was actually a magical miniaturized pie initiated the kind of gushing typically reserved for a basket full of puppies and babies.  I don’t get it.  All that I see is a delicious pie that I wish was five times the size so that I could eat five times as much.  But there is certainly no denying the convenience of the portability and single-serving size of these tiny pies.  This is especially true if you have two or fewer people in your household and a full-size pie ends up making you physically ill by the sixth consecutive night of consumption.

I believe it was Socrates who said “I know nothing except the fact of my own ignorance.”  But it’s me who said “I know nothing except the fact that all woman love tiny pies.”  I just hope you don’t find them too cute to eat.


  1. I absolutely LOVE the way you two write! This is such a typical "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" example. Women simply adore cute and tiny things, and men always think bigger is better!
    Thanks for the enjoyment I get each and every time I read your blog. Now I'm off to make a cute little Cherry Pie for me, and an enormous Chicken Pot Pie for my sweetie. :-)

  2. I want this pie!

    Indeed, you two are a pair... what great complements to one another you are... I can't wait for your cookbook!