I dread baking during the work week for one simple reason – dishes. I love the baking part, but the aftermath is just so overwhelming when all I want to do is call it a night and go to bed. My M.O. each time I’m in the kitchen is to use as few utensils and cookware as humanly possible. That ceramic ramekin? It only had grapes in it – clean. The stainless steel mixing bowl? It only had some batter in it for like 30 seconds – quick rinse and it’s clean. The spoons – shoot, they just stirred for all of 10 seconds – swipe them under the faucet and they’re as good as new. No dishpan hands here.
This week was one where I had a double dose of pie-making during the work week. Early in the week I needed to make these pielets for my friend – it was her daughter’s birthday on Pi day, so of course she needed to take these pies to her kindergarten class! Then I signed up for the bake sale at work to raise money for a Liver Walk. I’m all for healthy livers, so to show my support I of course offered up some more pies.
With a little planning, making pie during a busy work week can be pretty easy and the dishes can be managed in stages – not ending in one big heap at 10pm destined to sit there until Saturday. Here’s a timeline for how to make these pielets and wow anyone, anytime:
3 days ahead: Make your dough, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Heck, if you’re really good, whip up some dough when the mood strikes and freeze it months ahead of time!
(20 minutes, 4 pieces of a food processor to clean and probably a knife.)
2 days ahead: Make the filling, cover and refrigerate.
(15 minutes, a pot, a spoon and a couple of measuring spoons to clean)
1 day ahead: Roll the dough and cut circles. Place circles on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper, cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator.
(25 minutes, a glass, a rolling pin and a messy countertop to clean).
Go time (the night before serving pies): Preheat oven, assemble pies and bake! You should be able to be at the finished product in 30-45 minutes. While they bake, put on your jammies and clean up the kitchen. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack while you brush your teeth (so you don’t eat any pie). Cover lightly and go to bed. Ta-da! Fancy pies to take to work the next day.
Cherry Pie Bites, makes 2 dozen
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Sour Cherry Pie recipe
1 double recipe of pie dough of choice or best of both worlds pie dough
2 cans Oregon Sour Cherries canned in WATER (3 cups) Fresh or frozen would be better, but during off season I don’t mind this cheat.
1 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of vanilla powder (optional)
Directions (this is as if you’re doing it all at once)
Preheat oven to 400
Roll dough until it’s about 1/4 inch thick – the same as you would for a pie. Cut your circles and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. If you are using a 2.5 inch cutter, you should be able to get 26 circles out of one single recipe of dough. A good roll gets you 16 circles from the first pass.
Place the cut circles in the refrigerator while you make the filling.
Drain 3 cups of cherries (2 cans) and place in a pot or deep saucepan with 3/4 cup of the sugar. Begin to cook down for 3-4 minutes over over medium heat. You will see a lot of juice in the pan.
Combine the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with 3T cornstarch in a small bowl. I keep some vanilla sugar on hand so I used it for the remaining 1/4 cup. Turn the heat to medium-high and stir until the mixture thickens. About 1-2 minutes. If you think you have too much liquid, you can pour a little off. You will be able to leave streaks through the mixture when it’s thick enough.
Transfer into a bowl to cool completely.
To assemble the pies, place 1-2T of filling on every other row of circles (the others will be the top of the pie). We love our filling, so I try to get as much in there as possible.
Place a circle on top and seal around the edges. You can lightly brush the edge of the bottom circle with cold water to help the seal if you want. Crimp the edges with a fork and place in the freezer for 5 minutes or so – just to snap them back into form.
Remove from freezer and vent each one with a knife. You can do any design you want – a criss-cross, one vent, whatever you want. I did a Pi sign on these because it was Pi day.
Brush lightly with an egg wash (1 egg and 1 T water) and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake in the oven for 19 minutes or until golden brown. The baking time can vary depending on humidity and other conditions, so watch carefully around 18 minutes.
I forgot to take a picture of the finished product because, well, it was the workweek and I had to get them baked and out the door. Here is a picture from another batch I did a while ago.
Now, go forward and make some pie!