We’re getting to the end of Aiden’s kindergarten year. (I know every mom says this, but I can not believe how big he’s getting. It still feels like he should be just toddling around… so crazy!) While the kindergarten class is certainly still studying, they’ve also gotten to to that end of the year, fun projects, stage of things.
Recently, the class hatched a group of chicks. They had the incubator and the eggs, and the kids waited with bated breath for those little chicks to come on out. Now they have the baby chicks under the heat lamp in a big cardboard box. The chicks are growing quite well, and are getting big! They also happen to be surprisingly cute.
Aiden has been so excited about this whole chick hatching thing that it makes me halfway tempted to do the whole suburban farming thing and build a backyard coop. Imagine the wonderful food we could make with all those fresh, fresh eggs? I’m only mentioning this crazy little idea here on the blog, because my husband/mother/father/pretty much everyone I know except my cousin Kyra looks at me like I’ve sprouted a second head when I mention it to them. (Kyra is also pretty much crazy too because she happens to be coveting tiny goats; this is probably why she doesn’t laugh at my chicken idea.)
I’m pretty sure none of my family really needs to worry about the chicken thing anyway. I really don’t like cleaning up after pets; and I’m sure you have to clean up quite a bit after chickens…. Heck I had a quite a time of it just managing to turn my composting bin once a day last summer; and you don’t even have to feed/clean/or otherwise care for it beyond turning it. Yeah, chickens not so much happening. Not to mention it’s against our city ordinances…
So, school projects then. The class also recently had a “Humpy Dumpty” project. Basically, you have to design a contraption that will protect and egg from breaking when it’s tossed off the roof. (Hmm. What’s with all this egg stuff at school? Is the school trying to convince me I need chickens. Strange.) And in case you were wondering: no the students did not go up on the roof and toss their own eggs. A teacher did that part.
My husband Charlie was going to do the whole super bonding experience, build something elaborate, that requires a special trip to Home Depot, method with the project. I’m sure Aiden would have loved this; but it didn’t end up working out due to our crazy weekends schedule. Charlie was totally bummed he didn’t get to help with the fun project, and Aiden got stuck with the lame Mommy method, which did not involve a trip to the ever cool Home Depot.
But I guess everything worked out well enough, though we ended up building our contraption the afternoon before it was due. Aiden still seemed to have a perfectly lovely time cutting and taping tissue boxes, stuffing with tissue paper, and designing a parachute. Possibly a less cool experience then it would have been with Charlie, but hey the project got done right?
Plus, I am pleased to announce our egg survived “the drop” dun, dun duuuun (come on that totally needs sinister music)!
Aiden and I totally baked Mini Pies and Mini Crumbles to celebrate. (Which is the type of project that’s a little more up my alley.)
As is often the case lately, I decided to make our crumbles and pies small batch style in the interests of not gaining an extra ten pounds. More small batch baking! Woo hoo!
So, I should probably explain this whole mix and match thing. I got my hands on some gorgeous blackberries and so I was originally planning to just make crumbles. But, Tristan has the dairy allergy thing and I didn’t want to leave him out (crumbles have butter!). So I decided I would make him a mini pie with a shortening crust. Which made me realize the best part of crumbles is all the crumble/dough/crust stuff, so I decided I would put a crust under the crumbles as well.
All this meaning that the recipe I’m sharing ended up having a pie crust portion, a fruit filling portion, and a crumble portion. The crust recipe makes four rounds, which is enough to make two mini pies (meaning you skip the crumble). Or, you can make four crumbles, where each will have a bottom crust and a top crumble. Or, you can also completely omit the pie crust and just go for the fruit with a crumble top. You just mix and match and make whatever your heart desires. Does that make sense? I hope so.
Anyway, this recipe makes great mini pies or great mini crumbles, or whatever combination there of that you decide on, right in cute little ramekins. (Mine are 10 oz, and the perfect size to make a generous sized mini pie or crumble portion.)
I’m totally feeling these as an awesomely summery dessert. With those luscious blackberries that are just starting to appear as the filling… (Around my way they’re showing up plump and sweet, with just a little bit of tartness here and there. Mmmyyumm.) I mean what says summer celebration like blackberries and buttery vanilla crumble? As the summer progresses I think I’ll be swapping in all sorts of various fruits as they come into season. So more mix and match.
Also, I should mention that these are pretty darn easy to mix up, so they make a great speedy dessert after dinner just because you feel like it, as long as you have some nice summer fruit. Yay! Winner! Enjoy.
Mini Blackberry Crumbles, or Pies (Mix and Match!) –Yields two mini pies, or four crumbles (with or without a bottom crust. Mix and match it’s up to you! Bottom crust adapted from Small Batch Baking for Chocolate Lovers, and Vanilla Crumble adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts.
Pie Crust– Yields 4 rounds, enough for four bottom crusts or two mini pies.
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 tablespoon sugar
- 6 tablespoons vegetable shortening
- 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon of cold water
1. Add all dry ingredients to a medium sized bowl and mix. Add the shortening and the water then use a fork to mix just until a coarse dough, that just sticks together is formed.
2. Use your hands to form a pancake shaped disk out for the dough and wrap well in saran wrap. Allow the dough to chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before rolling out.
3. After the dough has chilled, place on a lightly floured surface and roll out to about 1/8 inch thin. Cut out four circles about an inch wider then the ramekins you will be baking in. If not ready to assemble pies/crumbles immediately, chill the circles until ready to use.
Fruit Filling– Yields enough for four crumbles, half the recipe for two mini pies.
- 24 ox (4 small clamshell containers) of blackberries, washed and dried
- 4-8 tablespoons sugar, to taste depending on sweetness of berries
1. In a medium sized bowl add the blackberries and sugar. Adjust the sugar to taste. Depending on the sweetness of the berries you may only want to use 4 tablespoons of sugar, but if the berries are on the tart side you will probably want the full 8 tablespoons.
2. Allow the berries to macerate for 20-30 minutes before assembly of the pies/crumbles.
Vanilla Crumble Topping– Yields enough crumble to generously cover four servings.
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/8 cup brown sugar
- 1/8 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons salted butter, chilled
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
1. In a medium sized bowl add flour, brown sugar, and sugar, and mix. Cut the butter in small pieces into the flour mixture. Add the vanilla and use fork to mix until a crumbly mixture forms. Chill until ready to assemble pies/crumbles.
1. Spray the ramekins with spray oil, or grease lightly with butter. Place one round of pie crust into the bottom of the ramekin. Gently pleat the sides to fit the entire crust in the ramekin. Repeat with another crust and the second ramekin.
2. Divide the macerated fruit into two portions and place each portion in the ramekin on top of the crust.
3. Use the last two pie crust rounds to create a top crust. Lay gently on top of the fruit and fold the edge into the ramekin to seal the pie. Pleat as needed to make the crust fit.
4. Bake the pies at 350* for 30-40 minutes on the center rack until the top crust is golden brown. Cool for about ten minutes before serving.
1. Spray the ramekins spray oil, or grease lightly with butter. If using bottom crust in the crumble, place one round of pie crust into the bottom of the ramekin. Gently pleat the sides to fit the entire crust in the ramekin. Repeat with each crust and ramekin. If not using a bottom crust move on to step two.
2. Divide the macerated fruit into four portions and place each portion in the ramekins (on top of the crust if using).
3. Divide the crumble topping into four portions and sprinkle each portion evenly over the fruit.
4. . Bake the crumbles at 350* for 30-40 minutes on the center rack until the crumble is golden brown. Cool for about ten minutes before serving.
P.S. These are awesome topped with some vanilla bean ice cream. Also, if you have any leftovers, best breakfast evvver…