Friday, August 27, 2010
I'm not much of a baker. Not that things generally turn out badly when I bake, but I don't do it very often and I'm wildly inefficient. There are a handful of things I'm comfortable making, but my skill set doesn't necessarily translate to other projects.
However, last night, I made pie pops.
Every year since 2005, my friends and I have gathered for a potluck feast on the afternoon of another annual tradition. Every year, my contribution has been baklava. Baklava is something my family has made at least annually for as long as I can remember, so it wasn't a big deal. But last year ago I saw this post on luxirare, and became smitten with the idea of pie pops. Little pies on sticks! I think the blog's elegant photos had a lot to do with my interest, but either way I was hooked. It seemed like a fun project for a gathering, and since this year's potluck is later in the season than usual, it seemed like a good fit for summer. I hadn't made pie since junior high cooking class, and I had vague plans to do a trial run earlier in the year. It never happened. So yesterday after work, sink or swim, it was on.
The luxirare blog is lovely, but didn't offer step-by-step instructions. Internet research turned up a helpful instructables article by scoochmaroo and post by bakerella. I wanted to use more than one filling, and chose two that seemed summery to me: the peach filling from scoochmaroo, and the filling for a blueberry pie recipe I found on allrecipes. I seriously considered making my own pie crust, but in the end decided to use store-bought dough. Thank goodness.
As mentioned above, I'm not an efficient baker. I started the project at 5:30, and - including a 30-minute break for dinner and another 30-minute break to accomplish some random tasks later on - I finished at 11:30. Five hours to turn out sixty pie pops. Probably not a speed record.
One of the most time-consuming parts was - sadly - peeling, pitting, and chopping four peaches. It must have taken me the better part of an hour. How is that even possible? The recipe claimed that if I boiled the peaches for five minutes and then transferred them directly to ice water, they would peel easily. This was a lie. I ended up using a vegetable peeler. Also, I am the worst chopper in the world. Partly because I have don't have a good chopping knife, but mostly because I'm just bad at it. Slippery skinned peaches aren't the easiest things to finely chop.
The blueberry filling was relatively simple. The only change I made to the recipe was adding a tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice and increasing the cornstarch as suggested in the comments. I put the fillings in the fridge and ate dinner while I preheated the oven and took out the pie crusts to warm up. Then the assembly line began.
The most time-consuming part of putting the pie pops together was sealing each one with the end of a lollipop stick. Still, I made decent time. The pops baked at 375 for about 15 minutes per sheet, and I was usually almost ready to put the next sheet in the oven when one came out. Each roll of crust made 12-15 pops on the first go-round, and I used two double rolls. I rolled out the remains for the last sheet and got eight more. I could have kept going - I had more crust in the fridge and barely made a dent in my filling - but sixty pops was all I could handle in one evening. I hope I find time to make a pie or two with my remaining ingredients before they go bad. A full-sized pie seems like such a simple task now.
How did they turn out? I'm not sure. They didn't burn. A beaten egg white wash gave them a nice crackly look on top. The blueberry filling leaked in a colorful manner, but the pops all maintained their structural integrity. I only tried one, a peach pop from the first batch. It was tasty, and lot hotter than I expected inside, which led to some undignified open-mouthed hand flapping. The pops have a high crust-to-filling ratio, but I guess that's to be expected with tiny pie.
Once they were cool, I slid each pie pop into a treat bag and fastened it around the stick. About halfway through, I grew paranoid: what if the plastic made the pie taste funny? I was too far along to turn back, though, and the bags themselves had no discernible scent. I'm hoping for the best. I put a color-coded sticker on each bag - not that it isn't obvious which pie is which - and put them all into a box in the fridge. Ready for transport! Please don't let me forget them.