If we have one Most Important Baking Tip to share this time of year, it’s to do all the floury, buttery, messy work at once whenever possible. Make two pie crusts, or four. Stash a few in the freezer. Frozen pie crusts are like money in the bank.
Here’s the recipe you need. From there, you’re just a great tart or pie pan, sugar, lemon and fruit away from summer beauty. Because honestly, you can macerate almost any good fruit with sugar, lemon and maybe cinnamon, sprinkle it with a crumble topping, more pie dough, and pop it in a hot oven, and delight everyone at the table. (Please don’t forget the vanilla ice cream.) Here’s a quick primer to get you rolling. (Get it?!)
Some of us get a little bogged down in the details when it comes to baking. For those among us, visit this pie dough 101 we put together. It’ll walk you through the temperature and size of the butter chunks, the technique for better rolling, and everything you want to know. And the basic pie dough recipe you’ll want? It’s right here, buddy.
This is when you’re justified in pulling over off the road when you spy a sign that says “BERRIES” in a mad scrawl. You want fresh and local and nothing else, if you can get away with it. (But let’s be honest; baking fruit tends to draw out its sweetness! Even OK fruit can be rescued by a pie). Think: nectarines and peaches, blackberries, strawberries and blueberries, cherries, plums and key limes. The rest is all pantry staples like flour, sugar, butter, fruit and salt. Got lemon zest and cinnamon or nutmeg? Great! A few of our best recipes (see below) will call for them.
It’s really pretty simple. You need a rolling pin, a pastry cutter or small food processor to cut in the butter, a basic pie pan and a beautiful one for special occasions. Feeling aspirational or putting together a gift? Go for it: We’ve got your lattice pie crust cutter (to blow Instagram’s mind!), your silicone pie shield (to protect delicate crusts!) and even your summer fruit pie crust cutter set (for when there’s a pie cookoff and you’ve gotta win!).
Speaking of which, here are the recipes!
Apple pie: It can be pretty as a picture when done right. Our old-fashioned apple pie recipe is as classic as can be, right down to the cinnamon and lemon in the filling. A touch of cream binds the whole thing together beautifully.
Oh, say can you see… how great this blueberry pie looks? So jammy it’s downright sensual, blueberry pie is almost unbeatable when it comes to best-of-the-best in summertime. We love topping this with a dusting of sanding sugar, for extra sparkle.
As is true of peaches and blueberries, peaches and blueberries bring a little extra something to the table when they mingle. We also added a good amount of fresh ginger, to balance out all that unctuous fruit sweetness. You can do the braiding crust work seen here or assign it to smaller, nimbler hands. (Hello, kid-friendly project!)
For those who adore it, there is nothing like a key lime pie. And they’re right: What else is quite so wonderfully bright, tart and creamy at once? There are lots of ways to do key lime well, but we’re particularly partial to this one, with a cloud of airy meringue a sort of optimistic cap to the whole.
When you’ve got a bunch of folks to feed or a lot of cherry pie fans in your family, you want to make a slab pie. That means fewer brawls over leftovers, and happier people all around. This is an ideal recipe for those who like a higher filling-to-crust ratio. It even works with frozen cherries, making life all that much simpler.
Got excellent nectarines? This is the pie recipe you want. It’s so easy, with just a handful of ingredients, and that lattice work on top is a snap. (You could skip it in favor of a traditional rolled crust, if you prefer!) Lemon is the only non-pantry staple called for, which is a grocery shopping list we can get behind!
A friend still have your pie pan? Not to worry: Italy’s famous crostata, elegant and inelegant at once, has your back. At a certain time of year, apricots become so sweet they’re like candy. That’s when you want to pair them with blackberries in an easy-breezy, no-pan-required crostata.
Need something a little more formal than a crostata? Break out this plum tart. Gorgeous, neat and easy-to-love, it’s got that plummy windowpane to get everyone drooling for dessert. A tiny bit of apricot jam is just the binder needed to balance plums’ earthy notes and make the filling out of this world. And as is true of its stone fruit pie brethren, it’s, well, easy as pie.