An Illustrated Guide to Miniature Cherry Pie
One of my favorite hobbies is crafting tiny, authentic miniatures, perfect for a dollhouse (if you are a fellow miniaturist, I usually work on a 1:12 scale). For today’s project, I decided to anticipate summer and make a mini cherry pie. Here is the finished product!
First a pre-project step: In embarking on this project I realized I needed something to serve as a pie pan, so I searched several grocery stores for the kind of old-fashioned soda bottles that have metal caps (and then had to make myself a quick root beer float when I got home to drink the soda after I opened the bottle to use the cap…what a shame). Of course it is possible to make miniature pots and pans, but I elected to jump right into the pie making this time.
So, step one: The piecrust. Blend the clay to make a good unbaked dough color. I used a marble-sized piece of white, an almond-sized piece of tan, and about a pea-sized piece of yellow. I prefer Sculpey modelling clay, mostly because it’s so easily accessible at all craft stores, but it’s also easy to use and comes with clear baking instructions.
Sculpey modelling clay
Knead the colors together until the resulting lump has a uniform consistency and color. Divide the clay into two portions, then roll each portion into a ball. Flatten your “dough” balls, or squish between two sheets of foil and use a pen, small rolling pin, or other cylindrical object to roll it out to a thick-cardstock like thickness. Set aside one flat circle. Peel up the other circle and gently press into your pie pan.
Flip the pan upside down to trim the edges with a sharp craft knife. If you want to get fancy, you can crimp the edges of your crust at this stage.
Here comes the really cool part—layering color onto the crust with ground up pastels! While you get some color from blending clay together, most of your authentic real-food appearance comes from this stage. For a baked-good coloring, I generally use a brown (or a reddish brown and a dark brown), a red, and a yellow.
Use a sharp craft knife to shave tiny bits of each color into its own small heap. Then use a straight razor or a craft knife with a long flat blade to grind each powder into fine dust (does this stage feel a bit odd? All I will say is it’s a good idea not to inhale too closely over these piles. I haven’t looked into the relative health dangerous of inhaling oil pastel, but I’m sure it’s not good for you!).
Apply the powdered pastel to both the edges of the piecrust in the pan and the reserved flat circle. Brush the powder over the clay, one color at a time. You can use a small paint brush or a makeup brush for this step. Keep layering until you achieve the darkness and color you are looking for.
Use your straight razor blade to cut very, very thin strips of the pastel-shaded flat circle, and then weave them into a basket for the top:
Your crust is done!
On to the filling. I will warn you, this part takes a long time! I believe it took me about an hour in total to make the whole pie, and most of that time was consumed by this step. Knead a marble-sized piece of red clay with a very small, pea-sized chunk of black clay.
Roll your clay into a long snake, about 12” long. You are then going to chop the entire snake into tiny, dollhouse-cherry-sized sliver, roll each sliver into a rough ball, and indent the top of each ball with something small and cylindrical, like a toothpick. (I will note that if you are not planning on cutting a piece out of your pie, you could probably make just a few cherries and fill in the bottom of the piecrust with solid red clay to save yourself some time).
Once that is done, get ready to welcome one of the coolest clay inventions of all time—liquid Sculpey! This stuff squeezes out of the tube like glue, can be mixed with ground up pastel for coloring, and bakes hard just like the rest of the modeling clay. Here we have liquid Sculpey with the ground up red pastel you will need to add to give our pie filling an authentic color:
Mix that up well, dump in your time-consuming cherries, and then scoop them all up and smooth them into your pie crust. (I did this with my fingers. I am sure a small spatula would work just as well, and then I might not still have red fingernails).
Gently place the lattice crust on top, crimp the edges of the lattice to the edges of the lower crust with your fingers, and use a sharp knife to trim away the excess lattice.
If you want to live life on the edge, here is where you can cut a slice out of your unbaked pie if you choose: use a VERY SHARP knife to cut straight down on each side of your piece, then insert something thin and blunt on the crust side of the pie piece to lever it up and out of the pan. You can bake the pie piece side by side with the pie, but you will need to remove the slice from the oven sooner since it is so much smaller.
Bake according to the directions on your clay packaging.
And that is how you can make a realistic-looking mini pie for your dollhouse. Happy crafting!