Unlike a lot of people, pie is one of my favorite things to bake and I’ll take any excuse I can to throw one together (ahem, like Pi Day). The method of cutting butter into dry ingredients, rolling out the dough, and getting flour all over every surface in my kitchen (myself included) is a process I’ve grown to love and I can’t think of a better reward than that of the smell of fresh baked pie wafting through my house. Or taking the very first bite when it’s still slightly warm from the oven. The smell combined with the flavor and the way my partner’s eyes light up when he discovers I’ve made another pie – it makes the messy and sometimes overwhelming pie making process worth all the elbow grease and dirty dishes, and then some.
Some pie recipes are easier and more forgiving than others, and this is one of them. You can use your favorite pie crust or the recipe for the one I’ve provided below. And although I opted for a heartier base of spelt flour, unbleached or white whole wheat flour will work just the same. The filling comes together quite easily and if you happen to overcook it, all you have to do is stir a tablespoon (or two) of water back into it and it’ll be good to go. If you’d prefer a large pie, this recipe can be prepared in a round 8-9″ pie plate or tart pan, but you’ll have to adjust the baking time accordingly. If you don’t trust yourself to remove the mini pies from the muffin pan without destroying them, half pint mason jar lids are a great alternative to the muffin pan.
Mini Cherry-Blueberry Pies
- 1 1/2 cups spelt flour
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 6 tbsp vegan butter, cold
- 1/4 cup non-hydrogenated shortening, cold
- 4-6 tablespoons water, ice cold
- 1/2 cup frozen tart cherries
- 1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries
- 6 tbsp cane sugar
- 1 tbsp potato starch
- 1 tsp lemon juice
Prepare the crust:
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter and shortening into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stick the bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes to get the ingredients nice and cold. Once chilled, add water 1 tablespoon at a time and mix the dough using your fingertips. Your goal is a dough that’s firm but slightly sticky (I used 4 tablespoons of water). Knead the dough for a minute then pat it into a disc, wrap with plastic, and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to 2 days.
Prepare the filling:
In a medium size saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cherries and blueberries. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until they release a decent amount of their moisture. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and starch then stir it into the cherry-blueberry mixture along with the lemon juice. Allow the mixture to cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring every 15 seconds. You’ll want to watch closely because it thickens fairly quickly and if you cook it too long, it will be too gelatinous to work with. Once it starts to thicken, turn off the heat and set the filling aside to cool.
Assemble the pies:
Preheat oven to 375˚F. Lightly mist a 12 cup muffin pan with oil; set aside. Once the dough has rested, line a flat surface with parchment paper and sprinkle with flour. Roll the dough out until it’s about 1/4″ thick then use a round 3″ cookie cutter to cut 12 rounds from the dough. Carefully transfer each of the rounds to the prepared muffin pan, making sure to press them to the bottom of each well. Transfer pan to the freezer for at least 15 minutes and roll the remaining dough scraps into another slab that’s about 1/4″ thick. Using number cutters, cut out the first 12 digits for pi (including the decimal). I used 3.1415926536 – I rounded the last number because the 13th digit was a 9, but feel free to keep it as a 5. Transfer the numbers to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze until ready to use.
Remove the pie crusts and number cutouts from the freezer. Prick the bottom of each individual pie crust with a fork then bake at 375˚F for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and spoon a generous tablespoon of pie filling into each pie crust. Top with number cutouts and return to oven for an additional 6-8 minutes. Allow pies to cool in the muffin pan for 30 minutes then slightly tilt the pan and use a spoon to assist in removing them from each muffin well. Allow pies to cool for an additional 2 hours then transfer to a semi-air tight container. Pies will keep for up to 2 days, but are best within 24 hours.