Little pies with a choice of 3 fillings (Chicken-Pesto; Sausage; Butternut Squash & Stilton). Perfect for picnics. And an amazing recipe for gluten free pastry too.
DON’T LOSE THIS RECIPE! PIN IT FOR LATER…
Little pies for picnic season
Little pies are perfect summer food… Why? Because it’s picnic season. And mini pies (whether gluten free or not and with whatever filling) are hand-held wonders that can be eaten anywhere.
There is something about a picnic which feels quite romantic. Grabbing an impromptu basket of food and bottle of wine and heading out on the path to freedom feels carefree. Walk, cycle or drive… You can stop wherever takes your fancy. Just drop a warm rug in the long grass to lounge and eat in the sunshine… Perfect!
OK… So, in reality the kids might be screaming at each other… the whole journey is filled with ‘are we there yet?’… The British weather is less than predictable and if you’re driving, that bottle of Prosecco might just have to be left at home… But if you find the right spot, the weather holds and you remember to take the frisbee, you won’t regret making the effort to get there… Especially if that basket is full of delicious, home-made goodies.
And if you aren’t planning a picnic, no worries… These little pies are fitting for parties, buffets and lunch boxes too!
Make these mini pies with any suitable pastry…
You can make these little pies with any suitable pie pastry. It doesn’t have to be gluten free. But as this is a gluten free blog, I have provided an amazing recipe for gluten free pastry which is perfect for making them. It is also free from nuts, rice and soy and is optional dairy free too.
The gluten free pastry recipe shared here is actually pretty amazing. It’s soft to touch, kneadable, unusually malleable and rolls out well… It doesn’t crack (even after a couple of re-rolls and being pushed into the holes of a mini pie tin) and it bakes crisp and delicious.
Flour for gluten free-rice free pie pastry
The pastry for these picnic pies has been made with my Gluten Free Alchemist Rice Free Flour Blend B which you can mix at home. It’s a versatile flour which works well in most recipes. Being rice free, its use also supports avoidance of the potential health risk posed by arsenic consumption… A particular consideration of you are consuming a lot of commercial gluten free products.
Either way, I have always blended my own flours. Blending allows greater flexibility to tweak to the needs and desired texture of the bake. And in our world, texture is critical. I NEVER accept a home-bake that isn’t at least as good as its ‘normal’ equivalent. But that means lots of experimentation with the right flour blend at its core.
I appreciate that not everyone wants to blend their own gluten free flours, but if you do fancy giving it a go, there is loads of information to help you get started on the flour blending page.
If you don’t want to mix your own flour blends but still want rice-free flour, there are other rice free blends on the market you can try. The Free From Fairy produces a gluten free-rice free flour blend. And Bobs Red Mill also produce two rice-free flour blends – an All-Purpose Baking Flour and a Paleo Baking Flour (which is almond-based).
Mini picnic pies for a #FreeFromPicnic
These little picnic pies are not new to the blog. Originally, they were shared as part of a monthly seasonal ‘free from’ recipe share in conjunction with a larger group of bloggers. Spread over several months, we offered a selection of anything from #FreeFromPancakes and #FreeFromParty to #FreeFromChristmas and #FreeFromEaster. We even shared recipes for a #FreeFromBBQ, a #FreeFromHarvest and a #FreeFromHalloween.
This particular post was part of a #FreeFromPicnics feature. But as the pies are so good, it seemed appropriate to give the post an update.
Fillings for little pies
This post offers three filling options for little pies. The first is a sausage pie… a mini pie version of the traditional sausage roll. I first made sausage pies when I had some leftover sausage meat one Christmas. But they were such a hit on the buffet table, I started dreaming up all sorts of other fillings.
For this post, I have re-created a popular flavour combo in pie form… Chicken & Pesto. But I have also made my absolute favourite… Crushed Roasted Butternut Squash, Toasted Pine Nut & Stilton. Don’t let my choice of fillings constrain you however. If there is a favourite flavour you want to test, use the same recipe principles and method and get creative. Little pies are actually pretty easy to make with some basic baking skills and a little time.
What else can I take on a free from picnic (or put in my lunchbox)?
Whatever your dietary needs, we want you to make the best of summer and enjoy lots of picnics… If you need extra inspiration, why not head over and check out our gluten free recipe index for Parties, Picnic and Lunchbox? We also have an Ultimate Guide to the Gluten Free Picnic… Recipes, supermarket buys and equipment!
My favourite savoury makes to accompany little pies include the gorgeous gluten free Baguette (glimpsed on the table in the pics), a fun ‘turn upside down to mix’ Summer Salad Jar, my Original Savoury Summer Upside Down Cake and home-made Scotch Eggs. But we have loads more to offer… From gluten free Scones and Bread Recipes to Savoury Pastries (including lots of quiches) and Dips.
If you are looking for something sweet, we also have a massive selection of cakes, biscuits are treats… Check out our Index Recipe Book for ideas.
You could also check out the other #FreeFromPicnic blogger links below :
- Gluten Free Vegan Oatmeal Cookies : Mel at Le Coin De Mel
- Egg Free-Gluten Free Scotch ‘Eggs’ : Rebecca at Glutarama
- 7-Layer Dip Picnic Pots : Emma at Free From Farmhouse
- Rainbow Fruit Salad : Nathalie at Intolerant Gourmand
- Egg Muffin Cups : Laura at Dairy Free Kids
- Chocolate Tiffin made with Insect Flour : Vicki at The Free From Fairy
- Asparagus, New Potato & Spring Vegetable Frittata : Mandy at Sneaky Veg
A Trio of Little Pies…Perfect for Picnics
- Kitchen scales
- measuring spoons
- Mixing bowls
- fork and spoon
- flat knife
- cling film
- sharp knife
- roasting tin
- Baking tray
- mini pie trays
- pastry tamper/small rolling pin
- Rolling Pin
- small round cookie cutter
- pastry brush
- wire rack
PASTRY (Rice Free) for 36 mini pies
- 440 g Rice Free Gluten Free Flour Blend GFA Blend B – See NOTES (1)
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 220 g unsalted butter (or dairy-free alternative) cold and cubed
- 2 large eggs UK large
- 3 to 4 tbsp cold water iced if possible
Sausage Pie Filling (for 12 little pies)
- 150 g gluten free sausage meat
- salt/pepper/herbs/spices as preferred to season to taste
Chicken-Pesto Filling (for 12 little pies)
- 1 large boneless, skinned chicken breast
- 3 tbsp Pesto sauce of choice
Butternut Squash, Pine Nut & Stilton Filling (for 12 little pies)
- 1 small butternut squash
- 1½ tsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp pine nuts
- 50 g Stilton cheese (approx weight) or other strong blue cheese
Egg-wash to glaze the pies
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp milk
- Weigh and mix together the flours, xanthan gum and salt, making sure all lumps are completely broken down. TIP : Weigh into an air-tight container and shake vigorously.
- Rub the butter into the flour mix using the tips of your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
- Beat the eggs together in a cup and then add to the flour mix with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the cold water.
- Bring the dough together with a flat knife or your hands, adding more water a teaspoon at a time, until you achieve a firm, but slightly sticky dough-ball.
- Split the pastry into thirds (one for each filling). Wrap each portion of pastry dough in clingfilm until ready to use and chill in the fridge.
Sausage Meat Filling
- If your sausage meat is unseasoned, season to taste and mix well. Set aside until ready to use.
- Cut the chicken breast with a sharp knife into very small cubes (they need to be able to fit in the pies). Place into a bowl.
- Add the Pesto to the bowl and mix with the chicken until well coated. Cover and set aside in the fridge until ready to use.
Butternut Squash, Pine Nut & Stilton Filling
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas 6.
- Peel and de-seed the butternut squash and cut into small cubes.
- Place the cubed squash in a roasting tin and drizzle with the olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper.
- Roast for about 45 minutes in the oven, turning occasionally until soft and beginning to brown slightly at the edges.
- While the butternut is roasting, toast the pine nuts by placing on a baking tray in the oven for about 10 minutes, turning every 3 to 4 minutes to ensure they don’t burn.
- When the nuts are done, remove from the oven and set aside.
- When the butternut is cooked and soft, remove from the oven and crush with the back of a fork. Add the pine nuts and stir through. Leave to cool.
- Once the butternut mixture is cold, crumble and add the stilton cheese. Set aside until ready to use.
To assemble the pies
- When ready to assemble the pies, prepare a couple of mini pie trays. Depending on how many ‘holes’ you have in the trays, you may need to make in batches (make sure you re-wrap the pastry in cling-film between processes).
- Take one of the pastry portions and soften slightly using the warm palms of your hands.
- Take a small piece of pastry dough about the size of a walnut and roll into a ball.
- Push into the base of one of the holes in the tin and using a floured small pastry tamper (or the flat end of a small rolling pin), gently press the pastry dough into the hole, carefully rocking a little so that the dough pushes up the sides of the hole. The pastry should not be too thick, but should come to a little above the top of the hole to make a 'basket' shape. (if you see any holes in the pastry dough, remove and repeat the process until you have got the knack).
- Repeat this process until you have 12 pastry-lined holes, making sure you keep about a third of the pastry portion for the pie lids.
- Fill these 12 raw pastry mini cases with one of your fillings, almost full, but allowing for a little turn-in of the pastry-sides over the top.
- Using your finger, gently ‘turn-down’ the pastry sides over the top of the filling to make a small ledge (this will form the base to stick the pastry lids). Repeat for all the pies.
- To top the first set of pies, take the remaining dough from this pie batch and using a lightly floured surface and rolling pin, roll to a thickness of about 3 millimetres.
- Use a round cookie cutter the size of the pie tops to cut 12 rounds of pastry.
- Make the egg wash by mixing an egg with a little milk and beat together.
- Brush a little egg wash on the underside of the raw pastry lid and around the pastry ledge at the top of the pie.
- Stick the round lid to the pie (both egg-washed sides together), gently pressing down and smoothing at the edges with a dampened finger to seal.
- Repeat to top all the prepared pies with lids.
- Place the pies in the fridge for about 45 minutes to firm up slightly. Reserve the remaining egg wash to assemble the rest of the pies and to glaze before baking.
Repeat for each type of pie
- When ready (which will depend on how many pie trays you have), you need to repeat the above process 'to assemble the pies' for each filling. You may need to bake each set before starting the next batch (see below for baking instructions).
- It may help to differentiate the pie fillings by sticking a small star/heart/pine nut to the tops with a little egg-wash.
To bake the pies
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4 and brush the tops of the uncooked pies with the remaining egg wash to form a glaze.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden and crisp.
- Leave in the tins for about 10 minutes, before carefully removing (you may need to ease a flat knife/small spatula down the edges of the tops to help unstick if necessary).
- Place on a wire rack to cool, or eat warm and fresh from the oven.
Little Pies shared with :
- Full Plate Thursday #491with Miz Helen’s Country Cottage
- Creative Muster #391 with Fluster Buster
- Fiesta Friday #335 with Angie and Food Eat Love