to make: pies baked in tiny jars
The dessert in a jar thing came at me in a few different ways. First was the mention of cakes baked in a jar over at Angry Chicken, and then with pretty frosting at Super Eggplant. What a brilliant present, an already baked cake all sealed up and ready to eat.
Later I came across these pies baked in jars at LloydAndLauren. Little pies, which you construct in jars and freeze to bake later so you have individual freshly baked pies basically on demand. This is genius. I was overcome with the need to make my own immediately.
Above, just out of the freezer. Below, just out of the oven.
First I bought a box of 4 ounce jars from a Fred Meyer store. I don’t recall what I was originally thinking when I bought 4 ounce jars instead of the more reasonably sized 8 ounce jars that Lauren used, but I think it went something like this: “ooh, cupcake sized pies”. I used Kerr brand, quilted jelly jars. Please note the importance of using jars with straight sides that don’t narrow at the opening, ok, thank you.
I dug out the recipe for Cook’s Illustrated Foolproof All-butter Pie Pastry (listed in the second post there). Next I’ll try the Foolproof Pie Dough that uses vodka, thanks to Smitten Kitchen for typing out the recipe. The all-butter recipe? Yum.
I bought some cherry pie filling in a can because, I will not lie, I am lazy.
Here are a few things I learned:
When putting in the bottom crust allow it to stick up over the edge to give you something to turn under and crimp later. I don’t have nearly enough crust in the picture above to do the job right. My second batch, which I didn’t take pictures of, had properly tucked crust and didn’t leak nearly as much. When you do leave enough crust they look more like this (one from my second try):
Put filling in to about 3/4ths of an inch below the top. This way you’ll have enough room to put the top layer of crust on and press the edges together.
There is no really good way to get a small disk of pie dough into the jar and press it into place. I sort of made a cone to lower the dough and just smooshed everything into place, trimming a bit off where needed.
photograph by Maggi, thanks Maggi!
I used aspic cutters to make tiny shapes in the crust, I did this with the small pies made in muffin tins as well.
Fold over and crimp the edges as best you can, it’s pretty difficult in such a small jar. Better yet, use a larger jar.
Bake somewhere between 350 and 400 degrees until the bottom of the crust is browning, an advantage of baking in a glass container. The top might pop off or puff up adorably.
Putting a Silpat on your baking sheet keeps the little jars from sliding around when you remove them from the oven, they are otherwise frighteningly slidy and hot.
Don’t forget to take the lid off before you put them into the oven!
If you only put one hole in the crust they might erupt like a volcano.
Removal from the jar is a little messy. Just go with it.
Cherry held up better than apple as a filling with enough flavor to stand out in such a small amount. I didn’t get a chance to try blueberry. Yet.
Update April 2010: You might also like these cobbler baked in jars that I made for a bake sale. Sadly, these cannot be frozen and baked (as the biscuit topping won’t cook properly) but they are great for picnics and bake sales: