Let there be pie

Let there be pie

First thing’s first. How the hell do you make a pie crust? Sure, we worship the ease of Trader Joe’s Frozen Pie Crusts. Why wouldn’t we? They’re made with real butter, they come two to a pack, and they’re flat — which gives us options for tarts, galettes, and pastries galore. But when making a proper pie, there’s something so wholesome about starting from scratch. For information on how a seemingly impossible baking task becomes possible, we turn to Alton Brown.

His pie crust recipe is easy as (sorry) pie and it includes the grandma-approved glop of lard. For an even simpler option, Savory Sweet Life teaches us how to create a pie crust without a rolling pin. Which is useful, because we’ve been known to use a plastic-wrapped wine bottle in a pinch.

Speaking of booze, we approve of the Smitten Kitchen pie crust method: use vodka. Apparently, this technique is good because the vodka evaporates in the oven, leaving your dough just moist enough. We submit this technique is also good because it gives us an excuse to drink Bloody Marys while we bake. Now that we’ve got the crust basics covered, it’s time to get fancy. Simply Recipes demonstrates the classic lattice top crust here, or you can get crazy with cookie cutters and make yourself a Star Wars themed pie like this one we saw on Neatorama. Now that we’ve got the crust out of the way, it’s time to fill it.

End-of-Summer Bounty
September gets us thinking about stone fruit, piles of grapes, and shoving as many blueberries as we can down our (sorry) pie holes before they vanish from the farmers market stalls. We’re not the only ones hung up on blueberries. Chef Molly at From Me To You bakes a gorgeous pie out of ‘em for her final farewell to summer. As far as the peaches go, it doesn’t get easier than this charming number form Pete Bakes. Those looking to impress with access to California’s bounty of fresh figs and pistachios can get behind this stylish tart from Baking Obsession. We’d use Cali honey, almonds, and yogurt for even more local cred. Finally, dig into the grapes of the season by copping the Grape Pie Queen’s trademark dessert (courtesy Saveur). We’re thinking this recipe would work well with wine grapes, too. Afterall, it is crush season and an Oregon Pinot Noir Pie sounds yummy, no?

Happy Harvest
Once you’ve squeezed summer for that last ripe peach, it’s time to think about all the glory of autumn. Fall’s been good to the pie — seasonal specialties include pumpkin, pear, and the almighty apple. This Sour Cream Apple Pie from Rosy Little Things pays homage to the season and includes a lovely top crumble. In the vein of gussying up classics, this Rustic Pear Custard Pie marries cream and fruit pies in one cinnamon-clove-scented slice. If, like us, you find it difficult to choose between apple and pear, make like Martha and throw ‘em together with some fresh cranberries in this Autumn Harvest recipe. Ready to trade in the fruit? The season’s right to get your old fashioned pumpkin on — and this version shows you how to make your own pumpkin puree. Remember, the golden rule of Fall is: When there’s a little nip in the air, put a little nip in your pie. And this Bourbon Pumpkin Pie from Epicurious is no rule breaker. Our other Fall faves are sweet potato and pecan pie. Savory Sweet Life nails the creamy, earthy goodness of classic sweet potato and Ezra Poundcake whips up a pecan version built to be baked below the Mason-Dixon. A nip of Southern Comfort observes the golden rule, naturally. Finally, we come to the Osgood Pie. What the hell is an osgood pie? Roughly, it’s an antiquarian hybrid of vinegar and chess pies. Which also sound gross. Osgoods showed up on many a kitchen table during the cooler months of years (way, way) past, and you’re unlikely to get excited about it unless your own family observed this tradition. Lucky for us, Not Martha’s family did. If raisins give you the icks, the folks at Serious Eats adjusted Not Martha’s recipe to include dried cherries and almonds. For some autumnal spice that doesn’t come in your latte, this nutmeg-maple cream pie is a simple and elegant solution from Smitten Kitchen.

Cream Pies
Which brings us to the wonderful world of cream pies. Lemon Meringue is a classic but it’s difficult as hell to get right. Brown Eyed Baker makes it look easy. Another notoriously tough cream pie is the Key Lime. Fortunately, the Reluctant Baker breaks it down for us here. Serious Eats dresses up the banana cream classic with a chocolate peanut butter crust. Peanut butter in pie is something we can really get behind, particularly when a cookie crust is involved. Bake or Break shows off the super simple recipe for Peanut Butter Pie with Cookie Crust from NYC’s Baked. If it’s the chocolate that appeals to you, we suggest you try this Fiery Chocolate Pie from My Wooden Spoon. Spiked with hot sauce and topped with sweetened whipped cream, it’s a winner for following up taco night. One of the huge perks to cream pies is that the lazy need not bake them. Case in point: this orange cream, graham cracker crust pie from Joy the Baker never touches an oven. And yet, it touches our hearts. Ditto the Scootabaker’s Lemon Cloud pie. With its coconut-graham crust it’s a welcome cooler on those unseasonably searing September days. Vegans can rejoice with this silky tofu cream pie from Post Punk Kitchen, which tastes just like cheesecake and is both dairy- and baking-free. Finally in the no-bake cream arena, the terribly intimidating but oh-so-addicting avocado pie. Pinch My Salt masters the “froggy pie” with this easy recipe.

Savory Slices
Sure, we worship the idea of a sweet slice of sugary pie for dessert (or breakfast) but we’re also suckers for the savory side of pie. Take for example, the humble pot pie. There are few things more comforting than the flaky pastry crust, oozing with thick chicken goodness. This deep dish variation from Baking Bites puts the frozen stuff to shame. To spice dinner up a bit, The Sugar Junkie swears off the junk with a chicken curry pie. Serious Eats really piles in the comfort with this Bacon, Country Ham, and Sauerkraut monstrosity. Veggies need not sit this category out, though (although we suggest you don’t follow that last link): Fat Free Vegan whips up a savory swiss chard pie that shines with garlic, thyme, and tumeric. Revisiting the excellent idea of eating pie for breakfast, Orangette makes this beautiful onion tart look like a snap and we’d choose it over a Grand Slam any day. Sugar Mama Baking Company pulls some gorgeous tomatoes into the kitchen and whips up a few different takes on the tomato pie. We also dig Mark Bittman’s tomato cobbler, although we’d make it in a spiffy pie pan.

Death by Pie
If for any reason, we had to die at the hands of a beloved dessert, we’d choose the pie. What? Like that’s weird? In particular, we’d choose one of three pies. First, this Candy Apple Pie entered into The Kitchn’s Best Pie Bakeoff (which is a treasure trove of great pie ideas) is like a three ring circus on a pie plate. It covers all the bases: apples, caramel, caramel, apples. We’d gladly die by this pie. Next, we’d happily meet our (pie) maker if she brought along the Cookie Cake Pie. Pretty much the Turducken of desserts, this sprinkle-laden creation from Cake Spy includes pie crust, cookie dough, and cake with frosting. Someone call Ben & Jerry’s. Finally, we come to the most dangerous thing to hit pie since Pushing Daisies, Momofuku’s Crack Pie. The LA Times gives us the cheat here. Much like crack, this shit is really good. Also like crack, it — and its four cups of butter — is really, really bad for you, yet you need it approximately every ten minutes after your first try.

The Pie Pans:

1. Round Tarte Tatin Pan by Le Creuset

2. Artisan Ruffled Pie Dish by Emile Henry

3. Perfect Slice Pie Pan

4. “Foil” Yellow Pie Dish by Crate & Barrel

5. Pie Plate and Bird

6. Glass Pie Plate by Pyrex

7. Pie Dish Vert by Emile Henry

8. Stoneware Pie Baker by Paula Deen

9. Fluted Pie Dish by Polish Stoneware

10. Cast Iron Pie Pan by Camp Chef

11. Classic Indigo Pie Dish by Chantal

12. Red Clay Pie Plate by Hess Pottery

13. Individual Pie Slice Pan by King Arthur Flour