I spend far too much time browsing food blogs, searching for recipes that are gluten-free or recipes that I can de-gluten. (Is that a word? De-gluten?) I have read several blog entries lately on baking in jars and am absolutely fascinated!
What is it about baking in a jar that fascinates me? I like that it makes single servings, that they are in tidy little containers which makes delivery and sharing convenient and they are just cute. Okay, more than cute. I think they are adorable. I want one in my lunch every single day, a tiny little dessert in its own pretty jar all for me. The biggest challenge I have confronted on this year’s 52 journey is eating only one serving of the week’s sweet. With 52 Donuts, it was easier to moderate my intake by only buying what I allotted myself. Not so with baking an entire batch of a delectable treat…but baking in a jar made that much easier!
This week’s sweet is Lemon Meringue Pie-in-a-Jar and here’s the recipe along with notes on how I assembled and baked these.
You will need approximately 20 4-ounce wide mouth jelly jars. I bought mine at the local mom-and-pop hardware store which has canning supplies available year round. I used this style of jar and they cost around $1 a jar, which, for me, means I want to share with folks who I see often enough to get my jars back.
2 1/2 cups of my favorite gluten-free rice flour blend
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 T. granulated white sugar
1 t. xanthan gum
1/4 cup shortening (I use Crisco sticks)
1 1/2 sticks of butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1/2 cup very cold water (I believe this is the trick to a good pie crust, water and butter must be cold)
Mix flour, salt and sugar together. I do not sift the rice flour blend, however if you were substituting all-purpose flour, I would sift. Add Crisco and break up with a pastry cutter. Next add the butter and mix with pastry cutter. Begin adding the cold water, just a little at a time until you reach the texture of pie crust dough.
I divided this dough into two equal balls and chilled them between two sheets of plastic wrap for 30 minutes. Instead of rolling out on a floured surface, I simply roll my dough between the sheets of plastic wrap. Roll out to the thickness of pie crust, not too thick or you won’t get it into the jars.
Use a 2 1/2″ biscuit cutter to cut rounds of crust and gently insert one into each jar. Alternately, you could press pieces of the dough into the jar, however I found it easier to maintain a consistent thickness of crust by cutting out rounds and gently folding them into the jar. Prick the crust with a fork a few times or use pie weights if you prefer.
Place the jars on a cookie sheet and bake the crust at 325 for approximately 15 minutes. I would typically bake crust at a higher temperature, however I was slightly leary of baking in canning jars so kept the temperature just a little lower and cooked a few minutes longer than with a typical crust. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. (These will not brown like a typical gluten pie crust, but do get a nice touch of color when they are done.)
Lemon Pie Filling and Meringue
I used this recipe from Alton Brown for the pie filling and meringue. The only adjustment was to reduce the baking temperature to 325 and cook them for 17-19 minutes. I used a mechanical pastry bag to pipe the meringue on top of the lemon filling but am not completely pleased with the result. I need to practice with meringue a bit more to figure out what works best to get it into itty bitty jars. There were quite a few negative reviews of this recipe, however I thought it worked well. Many folks reported the filling was soupy. I did cook for quite a bit longer than the recipe indicated, just to make sure it was plenty thick. It turned out great!
This week’s sweet friend is Charlotte. I asked Charlotte’s husband David what her favorite pie flavor was and he first said Lemon Chiffon and then said French Silk. I stuck with Lemon, but not the Chiffon part as I couldn’t find a recipe that didn’t use gelatin, which I don’t use. I shared the treats with Charlotte while on a roadtrip with 12 friends. These were a great dessert to share while on the road. They traveled well in a cooler, which a regular pie would not have. The only thing I would have done differently is not shared them after a HUGE lunch at Lambert’s. One meal at that place is enough food for a reasonable person to eat for an entire week!
I wrote a bit about Charlottte on the 52 Foods On A Stick blog and mentioned what an amazing knitter she is. Last year I showed Charlotte a photo of knitted fruit jackets that I thought were fun. The next time I saw her, she had an apple and a pear jacket for me. She knitted these with no pattern! I am amazed at her knitting abilities. I use these fruit jackets often, especially when I am traveling. They are just great, like Charlotte!
(The part of Pear is being played by Orange this week.)