Food & Drink

Little Pies with Big Flavor

Blow the lid off of a Southern tradition—and then bake pie in it—with this recipe from Georgia’s Southern Baked Pie Co.

photo: Gill Autrey


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.”

Amanda Wilbanks.

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.” 


Ingredients

  • APRICOT PIE IN MASON JAR LIDS (MAKES 12 PIES)

    • 12 Mason jar lids

    • 1 cup apricot preserves

    • ½ cup cream cheese, softened

    • ¼ cup heavy cream

    • ½ cup granulated sugar

  • SOUTHERN BAKED PIE DOUGH (MAKES DOUGH FOR 1 SINGLE CRUST 9-INCH PIE)

    • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

    • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour

    • ½ teaspoon salt

    • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar

    • ¼ cup water


Preparation

  1. For the pies: 

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

  2. Roll out dough into 2 (12-inch) circles. Cut 12 circles out of each dough round, slightly larger than the Mason jar lids. You should have a total of 24 circles. Press circles of dough into the bottom and up the sides of 12 jar lids. 

  3. Spoon 1 heaping tablespoon of apricot preserves into each shell. Top with 2 teaspoons of softened cream cheese. Place remaining dough circles on top of the filling. Press to seal. Brush with heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar. 

  4. Place on baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, and then reduce heat to 325 degrees and continue to bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and pop each pie out of their lid and let cool on a wire rack. 

  5. For the dough: 

    Cut the butter into small cubes. Combine butter and flour in a mixing bowl. Using a pastry blender, work the butter into the flour. Add the salt and sugar. Continue to work the butter into the flour until the mixture has a consistency of course-ground cornmeal. The cubes of butter should now be smaller than the size of a green pea. 

  6. Add the water, all at once. Continue to work the dough until the dough begins to come together. Form the dough into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap, and press into the shape of a disk. Place in the refrigerator for 2 hours to chill. 

  7. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out to desired size on a lightly floured surface. 

  8. Tip: “The trick to making delicious pie dough is using cold ingredients,” says Wilbanks. “I even chill my flour, salt, and sugar. Starting with very cold butter and ice cold water will make a world of difference when it comes to the texture of the dough.”

Recipe excerpted from Southern Baked: Celebrating Life with Pie, by Amanda Dalton Wilbanks


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