Holiday planning should be fun, right?
If you plan to make some holiday pies for parties or as gifts this season, why not have a pie-making party? This is a great way to prep a bunch of pies for the holidays. Recently, I had three friends over to fill my kitchen one morning with girl talk, mimosa drinking, and pie-making. So much fun! The best part is that we made mini pies-in-a-jar that we could take home, freeze, and bake later or give as gifts for recipients to freeze & bake at their leisure.
Of course, some of us (ahem) chose to bake a pie or two that same day... nobody says you have to save them for later.
In this two-part series, I will share with you some tips on hosting a pie-making party and then the recipes we created to suit mini pies-in-a-jar for freezing.
HOW TO HOST A PIE-MAKING PARTY
1. Devise a thoughtful guest list. Above all else, a pie-making party should be f-u-n. The holidays are so stressful enough, right? This is your chance to hang out and get some holiday prep work done without all of the stress. I invited friends whom I knew enjoyed being in the kitchen, who could laugh together, and who would each bring something different to the party.
[photo: friends Natascha, Enid, and Kimberly]
2. Pick a date. You will want to find a day where each guest has at least 2-3 hours open. It doesn't take that long to prep the pies, but remember: this is a party! I think we spent the first 30 minutes just chatting away while waiting for the pre-made pie crust to thaw more (you can feel free to use that as your excuse to just drink & chat for a while too). Our party was on a Sunday morning, from 10am - 1:30pm.
3. Decide what type of pies you want to make. I sent e-mails out asking my guests what their favorite pies were and chose three consistent pies based on their responses: apple pie, berry pie, and pecan pie. You will also want to decide if you are making full-size pies or mini pies. We could have made full-size pies, but there are two reasons I decided to go with mini pies-in-a-jar:
a) Our second refrigerator conked out on us, leaving us with one less freezer and no room for full-size pies. Freezer space is definitely a consideration here.
b) Who can resist anything in a mini mason jar? I mean, come on: look at how CUTE these things are! We used half-pint, wide-mouth mason jars:
4. Organize your list of equipment and ingredients. Do you have enough kitchen equipment for everyone or will you need to ask friends to bring more? I was able to do one big shopping trip for the majority of ingredients and the mason jars, I already had enough of several items in my pantry, and Kimberly graciously braved Trader Joes on a Saturday evening to secure the premade pie crust. (Note: I usually prefer homemade pie crust, but for these parties, I suggest premade for the sake of time. If you plan to make your own crust from scratch, be sure to add at least 30 minutes to your party time).
Some kitchen equipment you will likely need to keep the party moving:
* 3-5 medium to large mixing bowls
* at least 2 good chopping knives
* at least 2 cutting boards
* a cutting board or Demarle Roul'Pat mat for rolling out the dough (I highly recommend this nonstick rolling mat. I use it once a week!)
* decorative pastry cutter and mini pastry cutters in various shapes
* pastry brush
* 1-2 whisks
* dry and wet measuring spoons and cups
* 2-3 mixing spoons
* mimosas (optional)
Just kidding about that last one. (We all know mimosas are not optional).
5. Plan light nibbles. Since the purpose of the party is to make some pies, you don't need to prepare a whole feast for your guests, but you do want to offer them something to nibble on. I offered coffee, mimosas, and simple mini bagels with honey cream cheese and carmelized strawberries. Kimberly (the true professional baker of the bunch) brought some delicious gingerbread for us to snack on.
6. The day before prep:
a) If making pies-in-a-jar, wash the jars and set out to dry.
b) Clear off your countertops. We have a decent amount of counter space in our kitchen and we used about every inch of it.
c) Set out ingredients that do not need to be refrigerated and create "stations" where guests can work. For instance, place ingredients together for an apple crumb topping in one corner of the room, and ingredients for the pecan pie filling in another section.
d) If you have kids, make arrangements for them to be out of the house. This is your time to enjoy with friends and when your attention is divided by kids hanging off of the ceiling fans and sticking their hands in the pie crust all morning, it adds a little bit of stress to what should be a stress-free party.
e) Go through your ingredients and equipment one last time and pick up any last minute items.
Then, if you're a party dork (as one friend called me) and have this obsessive need to make things extra cute, make some matching recipe cards and jar labels or gift tags to use to decorate your finished products.
In the end, you have delicious pies ready to enjoy later, but most importantly, you have enjoyed a blissful time with good friends!
I cannot wait to share with you the delicious recipes we created for this mini pie-making party, based on tweaking normal pie recipes. Stay tuned tomorrow for the post with downloadable and printable recipe cards for Mini Berry Pies-in-a-Jar, Mini Pecan Pies-in-a-Jar, and Mini Apple Crumb Pies-in-a-Jar!
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