Saturday, 17 September 2011

Food Trend #4 - Miniature Pies

The latest food trend that is taking off over the pond is the Miniature Pie trend.

These pies may be sweet or savoury, and are becoming one of the most fashionable snacks, lunches and dinners! Pie shops are popping up all over America (and slowly in England – remember MyPie on the Apprentice, and here The Pie Shop in Covent Garden)

Some even offer ‘Pie Happy Hour!’

What is a pie: A pie is a baked dish which is usually made of a pastry dough casing that covers or completely contains a filling of various sweet or savoury ingredients.

Pies are defined by their crusts. A filled pie (also single-crust or bottom-crust), has pastry lining the baking dish, and the filling is placed on top of the pastry, but left open. A top-crust pie, which may also be called a cobbler, has the filling in the bottom of the dish and the filling covered with a pastry or other covering before baking. A two-crust pie has the filling completely enclosed in the pastry shell. Flaky pastry is a typical kind of pastry used for pie crusts, but many things can be used, including baking powder biscuits, mashed potatoes, and crumbs.

Pies can be a variety of sizes, ranging from bite-size to ones designed for multiple servings.

(Courtesy of Wikipedia! See for references)

History: The first pies appeared around 9500 BC, in the Egyptian Neolithic period or New Stone Age. Early pies were known as galettes, wrapping honey as a treat inside a cover of ground oats, wheat, rye or barley. With the knowledge transferred to the Ancient Greeks, historians believe that the Greeks originated pie pastry. Then a flour-water paste (add fat, and it becomes pastry), wrapped around meat, served to: cook the meat; seal in the juices; and provide a lightweight sealed holder for long sea journeys. This transferred the knowledge to the Romans.

Pies remained as a core staple of diet of traveling and working peoples in the colder northern European countries, with regional variations based on both the locally grown and available meats, as well as the locally farmed cereal crop.

Medieval cooks were often restricted in cooking forms they were able to use. The earliest pie-like recipes refer to coffyns (the word actually used for a basket or box), with straight sealed sides and a top; open top pies were referred to as traps. This may also be the reason why early recipes focus on the filling over the surrounding case, with the partnership development leading to the use of reusable earthenware pie cases which reduced the use of expensive flour.

The first reference to "pyes" as food items appeared in England (in a Latin context) as early as the 12th century, but no unequivocal reference to the item with which the article is concerned is attested until the 14th century (Oxford English Dictionary sb pie)

The Pilgrim fathers and early settlers brought their pie recipes with them to America, adapting to the ingredients and techniques available to them in the New World. Their first pies were based on berries and fruits pointed out to them by the Native North Americans. Pies allowed colonial cooks to stretch ingredients and also used round shallow pans to literally "cut corners," and create a regional variation of shallow pie.

(Information courtesy of Wikipedia – see wikipedia for sources and references to information.)

Tools: Miniature Pies can be fiddly to make, BUT, Lakeland have come to the rescue with individual pie moulds!

They also do an apple pie mould and a pie lattice mould!

Alternatively, miniature pies can be baked in cake/muffin tins (similar to what you would use for your minced pies at Christmas!)

Essential is also a good rolling pin for your pastry!

Though a normal wooden rolling pin is just as good as this beautiful but expensive rolling pin from Culture Label

Tips and Tricks: Make sure you leave holes for steam! This can be done with a stylish Pie Funnel (I love this rather cheesy “Four and Twenty Blackbirds Baked in a Pie” funnel!

Alternatively choose a lattice style which easily lets out the steam, or simply poke holes in the top with a fork!

Here are two very different types of pie that I have made recently

When making the Apple Pie I then used the leftover pastry, and juices from the filling to make individual pies.

I made the filling for these by reducing down the juices with icing sugar until it had a jam like consistency. I then filled the pies. Topped with a lattice and baked at gas 5 for 10 mins (or until the pastry was golden brown).

Enjoy your individual treats!

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