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~ How to: Cut, Form & Bake Small Pie Pastry Shells ~

IMG_0200Equivalent to a very generous slice of pie, everyone loves a small sweet or savory pie or quiche all to oneself or to share with our significant other -- especially those of us who love to nibble on the crispy crust.  When it comes to desserts, more specifically pies, tarts and cheesecakes, for special occasions, individual sweet treats are just more fun -- they make people smile.  While a bit more labor-intensive up front, they're well worth the "fussy" extra effort.  Why?  They're perfectly-portioned and require no slicing.  Serving them is 100% mess-free and stress-free.

IMG_0197This post refers to shells made w/classic, rolled pie pastry:

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c8fdda4b970bTo make small pie pastry shells, you need pie pastry, and, to make 4, 4"-4 1/2" round shells, you need the same amount you would use to make one, 9" single-crust pie.  Use your favorite recipe or click here to get my recipe for ~ Making Pâte Brisée: Basic Pie or Quiche Pastry ~.  That said, when I'm making small shells, each one the perfect size to feed one or two people, I feel no guilt in using store-bought crusts to save time.  They bake up golden and 6a0120a8551282970b01bb09a0f82a970dcrispy, and, no one has ever complained.

Blind-bake or bake-blind, is the English term for baking a pastry shell before it is filled.  There are two instances when you need to prebake your pie pastry:  #1)  A pastry shell that, once the filling is added, does not return to the oven for further baking.  In this application the pie pastry must be fully-baked, nicely browned and completely cooled before you add the filling, and, #2)  A pastry shell that will get filled with a custard, cream, mousse or fully-cooked/ready-to-eat filling and will return to the oven for further baking.  In this application, the degree to which you prebake the pastry (barely brown, lightly brown, golden brown) is determined by the length of time it will take the filled pie to finish baking, meaning:  the longer it takes the pie filling to bake, the lighter in color the prebaked crust should be when it goes into the oven, so, always follow the recipe's instructions. For more specifics, read ~ How to: Blind-Bake a Pastry Shell (Baking Blind) ~.

61WM8GKxZUL._SL1000_To make small pastry shells, you need small pie dishes or pie tins.  I have long preferred baking pies in clear glass (it allows me to keep an eye on how the pie pastry is browning) and Libby makes a great product for a great price ($16.00 for a set of 10, 4 1/2"-round dishes on Amazon and available for free shipping with a prime membership). If you love to bake, they're well worth the modest investment and they make a great gift too.

Roll pastry to a thickness of 1/16" & a diameter of 12 1/2":

IMG_9889Position 4, 4"-4 1/2" round pie dishes as pictured here:

IMG_9897Using a knife, slice the pastry into 4 quarters:

IMG_9900Drape one quarter of pastry over the top of each pie dish & use your fingertips to press it into the bottom & up the sides:

IMG_9904Using a pair of kitchen shears, trim & form the edges:

IMG_9907Using the tines of a fork, prick the bottoms of each shell:

IMG_9916Place formed pastry shells, well-part on a baking pan:

IMG_9923Bake on center rack of 425° oven, until golden, 8-9 minutes:

IMG_9925Cool completely, on a wire rack, prior to proceeding w/recipe: 

IMG_0205How to:  Cut, Form & Bake Small Pie Pastry Shells:  Recipe yields instructions to make 4, 4"-4 1/2" round, unbaked or fully-baked small pie shells.

Special Equipment List:  pastry board; rolling pin; ruler (optional): chef's knife; 4, 4"-4 1/2" round pie dishes or tins; kitchen shears; fork; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; wire cooling rack

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d2881604970c 6a0120a8551282970b01b7c8fddef1970bCook's Note: While we're on the subject, let's not forget about these  ~ Making Graham Cracker & Cookie Crumb Crusts ~. They're super-easy to make and so much better than store-bought (not that there is anything wrong with that).  Give it a read.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2017) 


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