Sunday, April 21, 2013

Mini Blueberry Lemon Pies


    Here's how my thought process goes:

    "It's so nice outside; it reminds me of summer.  Lemon bars are perfect for this type of weather.  Lemon goes really well with blueberries, too.  Lemon and blueberry bars?  Not crazy enough.  I remember I was going to make these cherry pie bars at one point....Maybe I can make pie bars.  Or, even better, miniature pies! "

     Yeah, it's pretty logical.

     I might be going crazy over miniature desserts.

     The only pie I ever made myself before was key lime pie with graham cracker crust, and I've never made an actual pie crust before.  My mom makes apple pie sometimes, but she always uses store-bought pie crust.      Only until now do I realize how easy making pie crust really is.  You can even make it in a food processor if you have one.
First, whisk together the dry ingredients. (Or combine in a food processor.)

Add a mound of small, cold butter pieces.  I shredded mine.

Cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is coarse and crumbly.  Or pulse in a food processor (don't over  pulse it). 
Stir in the milk and whisked egg yolk.
Form the dough into a rough ball, then flatten it into a disk and refrigerate for at least half an hour.  Don't overwork the  dough. While the dough is being chilled, you can make the filling (skip down the page some).
     The crust recipe I used isn't the average, flaky pie crust.  It has confectioner's sugar in it to sweeten it, and baking powder to give it lift.  It's more malleable than other pie crusts, which makes shaping it much easier.  It's buttery like normal pie crust, and the sweetness balanced the lemon in the filling. Just so you know, you could use store bought pie crust to save some time and effort.

Place about half of the dough on plastic wrap or wax paper, and then cover it with more plastic wrap/ wax paper.  Roll it out to about and 1/8" thickness.  
Cut out 2-1/2" circles to fit a mini-muffin pan.
Carefully press the circles into the cups of a mini-muffin pan.

     One thing you have to do with the crust in this recipe is blind bake it.  That means baking the bottom crust  without the filling in the oven for a few minutes to firm it up a bit.  This makes sure the filling doesn't interfere with the crust and doesn't get overcooked.  To do this with the mini pies, just cut out small squares of parchment and place them over each pie crust cup.  Fill the cup with dry beans or pie weights and bake at 325*F for five minutes, until the crust looks dry but is still pale.  Then, just spoon out the beans and remove the paper.
Blind bake the crust.  You can save the beans and use them again later.
Her'es the crust after being blind baked.

     The filling has the tartness of a lemon bar and the sweetness of the blueberries. It's a really refreshing flavor.  To make the filling, I just made some lemon curd and mixed it with blueberries.  The lemon curd recipe I used actually comes from a lemon meringue pie recipe.

Whisk together the lemon juice, sugar, corn starch, and egg yolks until  it comes to a boil.
Boil for one minute, whisking constantly.
Strain the curd into a bowl.  Stir in butter until melted and add the lemon zest.
Stir in blueberries. Refrigerate until cold. 
     Now's the fun part.
Fill the mini crust with the filling.
Cut out a circle of dough the same size as the bottom crust you made.
Wrinkle the edges by pressing the ridge between two fingers. 
Cut out a shape in the middle. I cut out some flowers and I put those over other pies.
Press over the filling.
To make a lattice crust, cut out thin strips of dough.
Place over the filling in a lattice pattern.  Then, you can brush the  crusts with some egg wash and sprinkle on some coarse sugar.
Now just bake for about 10 minutes, until the blueberries are bubbling and the crust is light brown.
     Blueberries are starting to come in season, so prepare yourself.  I can see another fresh blueberry recipe in the near future.  Enjoy!

Mini Blueberry Lemon Pies

makes 12 mini pies
crust and lemon curd adapted from Desserts from the Famous Loveless Cafe by Alisa Huntsman


For the Crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup (6tbs) cold butter, cut into small pieces or shredded
1 egg yolk, beaten
1 tbs cold milk

For the Filling:
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 tbs cornstarch
1/2 cup lemon juice (preferably fresh, from about 3 lemons.)
3 egg yolks
1 tbs unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 cup blueberries

To Finish
1 tbs egg white+ 1 tsp water
coarse sugar, for sprinkling


  1. Make the pie crust dough.  Combine the flour, confectioners sugar, and baking powder in a large bowl or food processor.  Add the butter and mix/ pulse until the mixture is coarse and crumbly.  Stir in the egg yolk and milk.  Divide the dough in half and form each half into a rough ball, careful not to handle it too much.  Flatten the dough, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Make the filling.  In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch, then slowly stir in the lemon juice.  Whisk in the egg yolks. Put the saucepan over medium heat and, whisking the mixture constantly, bring it to a slow boil.  Reduce the heat to low and cook for one minute.  Remove from the heat and strain the curd into a glass bowl. Stir in 1 tbs butter until melted and then stir in the lemon zest.  Then stir in blueberries.  Place a sheet of plastic wrap over the bowl, pressing it onto the surface of the lemon curd.  Refrigerate until cold, about half an hour.  
  3. Blind bake the pie crust. Preheat oven to 325*F. Take one ball of dough out of the refrigerator and place it on top of plastic wrap.  Cover the dough with another piece of plastic wrap or wax paper and roll the dough to an 1/8" thickness.  Cut out twelve 2-1/2" circles.  Carefully press these into a mini muffin pan lightly sprayed with cooking spray.  Cut out 12 small squares of parchment paper and press these into each dough cup.  Fill with dry beans or pie weights (this prevent the dough from expanding too much).  Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes or until dry but still pale. Let crusts cool in pan completely.
  4. Make the pies.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Fill the crusts with the lemon blueberry filling.  Roll out the rest of the pie dough the same way you did before.  To make a double-crust pie, cut out another 2-1/2" circle, ruffle the edges, and cut a shape out from the middle; press onto pie filling. To make a lattice, cut out strips of dough and layer on top of the pie in a lattice pattern.  Brush these top crusts with the egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until the blueberries are bubbling and the crusts are light brown.  Let cool completely in pans, then serve.

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