There’s a special kind of charm in small things—puppies, pocket-sized snacks, tiny houses. For Amanda Wilbanks, those warm-and-fuzzy feelings extend to petite kitchens, too. “I started baking when I was a little girl with my grandmother Bonnie. She had a tiny kitchen—if I pulled something out of the oven, and she was at the sink washing the beans, we would bump right into each other,” she says. The close quarters yielded some of Wilbanks most cherished—and formative—memories. “I grew up making homemade biscuits with her, and learning how to can homegrown green beans and peaches. My family always had a garden. For us, it was a way of life.”
Wilbanks made it her life’s work, too, when she founded Southern Baked Pie Co. in Gainesville, Georgia, in 2012. Known for their all-butter crusts and made-from-scratch taste, mail-order treats from Southern Baked range from savory pies, like beef stroganoff or chicken pot pie, to traditional sweets, like pecan and buttermilk. Southern Baked ships their pastries all over the U.S., but fans can also visit three storefronts in Georgia—Gainesville, Buckhead, and Alpharetta—with a fourth on the way this fall. “It’s one of the prettiest locations we’ve ever opened,” says Wilbanks of Southern Baked’s new outpost in Vinings, a historic village in the greater Atlanta area. Nestled among the boutiques and restaurants of Vinings Jubilee, Southern Baked will operate out of a picturesque white farmhouse, complete with a patio and plenty of outdoor seating. “It’s just a dreamy little cottage bakery.”
Inside, Wilbanks won’t just be selling tasty pies—she also hopes to help customers bake their own. “This space has a little more room than our other stores, so we’ll be able to open it up for hands-on classes,” Wilbanks says. She envisions a bustling schedule with tutorials on pie-making, home-cooked dinners, and entertaining tips, along with sessions from outside vendors, like florists. “The community in Vinings reminds me a lot of Gainesville, where the first Southern Baked brick-and-mortar opened—tight-knit and supportive,” she says. “We hope this location will really be interactive.”
This recipe for tiny pies, excerpted from Wilbanks’s 2018 cookbook Southern Baked: Celebrating Life with Pie, was inspired by time she spent learning in her grandmother’s kitchen. “When we would can peaches, I was the one who had to wash all the lids, make sure they were sterilized, and take them out when they were boiled,” she says. “I played with the lids all the time, too. When my grandmother made biscuits in the afternoon to go with dinner, I would bake my biscuit in a little mason jar lid.” Eventually, Wilbanks saw a new way to play with canning supplies: using the lids as miniature pie dishes. Buttery crust was a perfect vessel for summer’s bounty of preserves and jellies, and the diminutive size made them a crowd favorite for picnics, school lunches, and—Wilbanks’s favorite—on-the-go breakfasts. “It’s a nice treat to have with coffee,” she says.
The recipe calls for apricot preserves, but Wilbanks says any kind of jam you have on hand will produce delicious results—especially if it’s homemade. “You can add fresh fruit to the filling, too.” she says. “This recipe is just fun and easy, and it will always remind me of growing up in my grandmother’s little Southern kitchen. I get that warm, nostalgic feeling every time I make it.”