How to Make a Smaller Pie
I'd like to be able to bake a small fruit or custard pie of about four to six servings. The standard 9 1/2 inch pie plate makes about eight to ten servings, which is too much for my husband and me to have on hand. Any tips on what size pan I'd want and where I might buy it? Also, do your know whether scaling down a pie recipe would affect its baking time or not? If anyone has specific recipes to go along with a suggested pie plate, that would be great. Thank you.
I'm a fan of the "mini" sized pans- they make 2-4 servings each (depending on how big you like your pieces.) One recipe will usually make a few mini pies/cheesecakes/tarts/quiches. I put the "extras" in the freezer to enjoy another time.
I often find 7 inch pie pans at thrift stores and, sometimes, at garage sales. I agree that the baking time may be somewhat shorter for a 7 inch pie vs a 9 inch pie but only slightly; perhaps 5 minutes. If you're using a xxx-rex pie plate that you can see through and want to use the degree to which the bottom has browned as an indicator of how done it is, be VERY careful. Some years ago my wife did that with a pumpkin pie. She raised the pie as high as she could then naturally tried to tip the pie pan (but only slightly) to enable her to see the bottom and hot pumpkin spilled onto her feet. Serious burns ...... ruined holiday.
I've never had that happen, and now that you mention it I'm not 100% positive that I do or don't tilt the plate to look at the bottom. I don't think I do - I think I just look at the part where the plate starts to curve up, and if that's done, the whole thing is done. But maybe I do - after over 40 years of pie baking, I could be operating on autopilot ... I know for sure I don't take it out of the oven to look at it though. Not unless I think it's done.
Hmmm, now I'm curious - I need to bake an apple pie here soon. Now I'll have to pay attention to how I actually do it. Which means I'll probably get all self-conscious and screw it up, but Oh well, one must sacrifice for Science!
Sure, you want a 7" pie plate. Marinex makes one; I bought mine on Amazon. It's Pyrex, the borosilicate version. You would use 1/2 of the recipe for the filling; I've not actually measured, but I think a half recipe for the pie crust is about right as well.
If you cut it in quarters, each piece would be the same as 1 piece (cut into even 1/8th size pieces) of a "normal" 9" pie plate.
If you don't like the idea of the Pyrex pie plate (personally I have almost never baked in anything else, in something like 45 years), there are also 6" metal pie plates that I have seen. Check the Webstaurant store and Amazon for those as well. They'll make a slightly smaller pie - about 2 servings worth (you lose a lot going down to 6" from 7 or 7.5)
Fox Run makes a 7" metal pie plate available on Amazon for under $5; there are several stoneware pie plates of roughly 7" diameter, but they are very pricey, at $25 and up EACH.
The Marinex 7" Pyrex plate:
Is currently out of stock, but there's the link to it in case you want to sign up to be notified when they get some more.
You'll find several versions of these smaller pie plates in "nonstick" - AVOID these like the plague. Think about it - you'll have to turn the entire pie out to avoid knicking and damaging the "nonstick" surface of the pan.
Pyrex pie plates NEVER stick. I'm not sure about metal ones, but I don't think the few times I've baked in tin pie plate or cast iron fry pan (when making pot pie) I've ever had anything stick in one of those, either. I have heard people say they've had problems with sticking in stoneware, but have no personal experience myself.
Currently, if you want a pie plate soon, your best bet may be the Fox Run 7" plate on Amazon - or, if you're willing to go for a vintage pie plate, Classic Kitchens had several vintage Pyrex pie plates in the area of 7" last time I browsed over there. I have bought, and do use regularly, many vintage Pyrex items from them.
Baking time doesn't seem to be affected much that I can tell - but then I always bake by look - when the bottom looks done, I pull it out. (You can do that with a Pyrex pie plate, LOL!)
BTW - I have not had to change anything about the filling when I make smaller pies, except the quantity. For just the 2 of us (neither of us has a sweet tooth) a full size pie is too much so I haven't made one in ages. Just the small ones. Possibly I just don't use huge chunks of fruit to start with in any of my pies, or maybe it's because I par cook apples for apple filling, just to express some of the juice so I can cook that down. I never have soggy pies since I started doing that like 40 years ago, and there is actually a chemical process that happens in the apple that keeps it from turning to mush when you finish cooking it later. Which probably explains why my MacIntosh based apple pies (the only apple I used for decades, til I couldn't find them in the grocery anymore) did NOT turn into apple SAUCE pies the way people kept telling me they "must", LOL!
YMMV, but my pie fillings didn't have to be changed for the smaller pies, or at least I've not found one yet that needs any change, and I haven't NOTICED a huge difference in cooking time, although I admittedly don't really time pie baking.
If you are talking fruit pies, I think you should consider the crostata - aka rustic tart. Roll your dough circle about half again as wide as you want the tart to be, pile on your filling, and fold/pleat the crust over the top, leaving the center uncovered. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes or more, depending on the size. I cook for one, so I prefer to make individual sized tartlets. If you want something with a slightly raised edge, you can get individual 2-piece tartlet pans through places like King Arthur. Or get a "muffin top" pan - these have 6 shallow wells about 3" in diameter.
Even scaling down a full sized pie to, say, a 6" diameter pan WILL shorten the baking time.
Start checking the look of the crust by 30 minutes. It's helpful to cut your fruit pieces a little smaller than you would for a full-sized pie, both to minimize baking time and to make sure you've got enough fruit in there. Put a parchment-lined sheet pan into the oven while preheating it, and place your pan, or free-form crostatas/tartlets, upon it. That gives a browning boost to the bottom crust.