I can't talk about these adorable pies without first discussing my love of birthdays.
I know many people enjoy birthdays, but I'm one of those people who really enjoys birthdays. It can be just another day, and some years the date itself is more memorable than other years. But I relish in the opportunity to highlight how special the people in my life are to me. Other people's birthdays have always been MY JAM. (This is further evidenced by Jason's birthday party from a few months ago.)
I love how birthdays are a marker for the passage of time. Every year on my special day, I ask my parents to retell my birth story. I know it so well, I can tell it myself, but I love hearing them talk about what that date was like, so many years ago. [Do you know your birth story? If you don't, call you parents tonight and write down their version of the day! Mine involves Thanksgiving dinner.]
But the main reason I love birthdays so much is quite simple. There are 365 days each year, and on "X" date, we get to remember the anniversary of the day we came into this world. It's an awesome opportunity to stop and CELEBRATE the good, and the bad, that happened that year, and reset. For me, it's a chance for a fresh start.
In high school I went all out for my friends. "It's my birthday!" buttons? Check. "Sweet Sixteen" sashes? Triple Check. I was the queen of locker decorations, balloons, and always, homemade cupcakes.
In my adult life, I operate with the same overzealous nature for celebrating. (Wait till you see the chair banner I made for this party.) I try to choose things that are personal to my friends. My lovely girl Anne has recently become an expert baker. When I tried to think of a dessert for her surprise party, pie was the only answer. I didn't want to deal with cutting up a singular pie while out at the restaurant, so individual pie "cupcakes" would have to do.
I should have mentioned sooner, but this post does not include a brand new, ground breaking secret on how to bake a pie. There are plenty of recipes and tutorials on the internet already. Like I do for most crafts, or new dishes, I read through a bunch of them, and grouped together a game plan based on what worked for others. I learned that I needed at least a certain amount of dough, fruit, and sugar. Things like cinnamon, corn starch, lemon, and vanilla were optional but encouraged. The baking time would vary depending on the crust thickness, and the temperature should be around 350 degrees. I relied mostly on this recipe when creating my pies. I used a pre-made boxed pastry dough for the crust.
Rolling the dough out and cutting circles for the bottom of the crusts was easy. Mixing the berries together with sugar and corn starch, was a breeze. But creating the lattice work for the tops was tricky and time consuming. I loved the way they turned out, and think the effort was well worth it, but I have to share because, it was a step I was not prepared for. Perhaps on a regular sized pie, the lattice isn't as involved of a step.
And since I believe in authenticity, not every pie turned out as pretty as the ones I showcased above. I chose the best of the bunch to photograph, and then wrap to take for the party. Some of them turned out like the few below: berry filling boiled over, with, sunken lattice pieces. Baking, like most things, is not a perfect process, and especially having been my first time venturing into the wild world of pies, I'm pleased with the results! The size and portability was perfect for this occasion, and I think the guests really liked them. Anne's Dad said they were "delicious" more than once, which I consider a huge win!
These photos are from Anne's 21st birthday! That year, I experimented with fondant - because, like most college aged girls at the time, I was really into watching Cake Boss, Georgetown Cupcakes and Cupcake Wars. [Huh, that just me?] I made chocolate cupcakes with tiny martini glasses on them, just like the real life glasses I gifted her that year. I can't wait to see the dessert I create in five more years!