A mini cheesy baked bean pie is perfect for a lunch box or picnic spread. Anyone who loves baked beans will love these bite-sized pies. This is a collaborative post with Flora.*
What do you put in your kids’ lunchbox?
My older two children are both in the infants still which means (here in the UK) that they get free school meals. This means that I don’t make a lunchbox on a daily basis at the moment. But I have spent four years making lunchboxes for pre-school and often make them for days out in the holidays or with my little one.
And I am often stumped. R, my six-year-old, doesn’t really like any sandwich fillings apart from jam or honey. Which might be ok as a one-off, but certainly isn’t ideal for a his lunch box every day!
Baby S isn’t all that keen on sandwiches either. Sometimes I do pasta, sometimes soup (messy!), sometimes falafels and hummus.
What are your go-to lunchbox fillers?
Making lunchboxes more exciting
However, I don’t think I’m alone in drawing a blank with making lunchboxes exciting. Some research conducted by Flora and Leeds University* has shown that a mere 1.6% of lunch boxes meet standards set for healthy school food. 83% of lunchboxes contained sandwiches, with fillings more or less the same as the last survey – which was undertaken ten years ago.
There’s so much pressure on parents – even getting three children breakfasted, dressed and out of the door on time without forgetting anything is hard enough. I know from experience that carrot sticks, pots of homemade hummus and rice salads often come back untouched and slightly sweaty in a lunchbox at the end of the day. After a while it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of putting in the safe options that you know they’ll eat.
None of us wants our children to leave school at the end of the day ‘hangry’. Nobody does grumpy better than a knackered five-year-old who hasn’t really eaten since breakfast.
Why baked beans in a pie?
When I was planning this recipe I thought long and hard about what I could put in a lunchbox that my kids, well R in particular, would actually eat. I got to thinking about some of the things that he likes and baked beans are right at the top of the list. One of my favourite dishes when I was a cash-strapped student was baked bean and cheese pie and so this mini version was born. I love the idea of making a big batch of something that you can freeze and therefore have a ready-made stash of lunches.
I’ve made these using tinned baked beans but to make them a bit healthier you could make your own. Try my smoky baked beans with aubergine or these stove top baked beans for example. You only need a tiny amount of baked beans for this recipe so it’s a great way to use up a few leftovers.
The pastry is made with spelt flour. Spelt is believed to be more nutritious than wheat flour, although it does still contain gluten. You could use plain flour or wholewheat flour instead if you prefer.
And the verdict? R and Baby S loved these but Miss R only ate the pastry (she’s not keen on baked beans).
Here’s how to make mini cheesy baked bean pies:
Mini cheesy baked bean pies
For the pastry
- 75 g Flora
- 200 g spelt flour
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 50 g cheddar cheese grated
- 4 tbsp milk
- 1 egg yolk beaten
For the filling
- 1/2 tin of baked beans or a small 200g tin
- 75 ml milk
- 1 egg white
- 60 g cheddar cheese grated
Place the spelt flour and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl and combine with a whisk. Chop the Flora into small pieces and rub into the flour until you have a mixture that resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir through the cheese. Beat the egg and milk together and gradually pour into the flour mixture, stirring as you go until it's combined to become a dough. Knead for a couple of seconds then wrap in clingfilm and place in the freezer for half an hour.
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/180°C (fan)/gas mark 6. Prepare a non-stick muffin tin by either greasing liberally or lining with silicone muffin cases. Paper ones can stick a little - I got the best results when I used my silicone cases.
Remove the dough from the freezer and roll out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut circles with a pastry cutter or saucer and press into your prepared muffin tin. Bake blind for 10 minutes, remove the beans and return to the oven for five minutes.
Once done remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 180°C/160°C (fan)/gas mark 4. Add a teaspoonful of baked beans to each pastry case. Beat together the egg white and the milk. Pour a tablespoon's worth over the beans then top with grated cheese. Be careful not to overfill the cases.
Bake for a further 20 minutes or until the top has set and turned golden brown.
Can be served warm or cold and they freeze beautifully.
Find out more about how to bake blind.
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*Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post with Flora.