I’m thankful to pie for being a year-round treat. While its outer layer can vary from a flaky and crispy crust to a buttery graham cracker one, the base is just the canvas for any filling imaginable, from fluffy ice cream to rich chocolate. But come summer, when farmers markets are overflowing with perfectly ripe, sweet, and tart fruit, I want nothing more than to fill my pie base with all the berries and stone fruit I can get my hands on.
Thanks to Stella, I’ve learned a thing or two about pie, from blind-baking a crust and combatting a soggy base to creating beautiful lattice and herringbone patterns. I’ve also come to know the flavors of pie in its various shapes and forms, like galettes, crisps, and cobblers. When it comes to baking fruit pies and their variations, ratios are crucial. Too much sugar and you’ll end up with runny fruit and a soggy crust; too much starch will leave you with a gloppy filling. So long as you measure out your ingredients accurately (we recommend utilizing a kitchen scale) and use the right pan, bright, fruity, and crispy summer pies, galettes, and more can be in your future—just be sure to serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for the ultimate pairing. From classics like blueberry pie and blackberry cobbler to a no-bake strawberry pie and an elegant cherry clafoutis, these are our favorite pie variations to show off the best of our summer fruit.
The secret to this no-bake, no-cook summer pie is gelatin, which thickens the filling without the use of a stovetop or oven. To ensure a fresh flavor, make sure to seek out the best strawberries you can find. Macerating the strawberries softens their texture and draws out their liquid, helping bind the pie filling once it’s mixed with strawberry purée. Everything is held together in a buttery graham cracker crust, further eliminating the need for an oven. Each slice delivers juicy, fresh-picked strawberry flavor.
Once the fuss of pitting your cherries is dealt with, the rest of this pie filling comes together quite easily. A mix of sweet and sour cherries is key to creating a sweet-tart fruit mixture, and you can even mix fresh and frozen berries for an ideal filling. And thanks to Stella’s four-to-one ratio of fruit to sugar, the tapioca starch gelatinizes the filling so that it cooks at the same rate as the crust. No more soggy crusts or soupy, gloopy fruit fillings.
A galette is like the low-key, laid-back, French cousin of pie—it offers the same fruity filling and flaky crust but without all the work. Although ripe summer peaches don’t normally hold up well in the oven, the short baking time in this recipe makes them more suited for the galette’s filling. You’ll want to cut your peaches into thick slices to prevent them from getting mushy. And without the need for a pie plate, you’re left with a galette that’s crispy on the outside with a tender, juicy filling.
Don’t be fooled by the fancy French name—this sweet cherry clafoutis delivers maximum results with minimal effort. Eggs, milk, sugar, and flour come together to make a simple batter, which is then poured over fresh cherries that sit in the bottom of the baking pan. If you want to bring out the fruit flavor even more, you can add a splash of cherry brandy to the batter. Once puffed and browned from the oven, serve with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and a dollop of whipped cream.
As far as classic pies go, blueberry ranks pretty high (right next to apple, an all-American favorite). Our recipe uses two types of blueberries—wild and cultivated—to create an intense berry flavor. Complete with a golden, flaky crust, this pie is an easy and reliable way to get dessert on the table and in the stomachs of our loved ones (and ourselves).
The fruit in this pie lends itself well to interpretation—you can use whatever mix of berries and stone fruit you like to create your perfect sweet-and-sour filling. However, we recommend using a kitchen scale when experimenting to keep your measurements accurate. Our version combines plums, cherries, blueberries, and gooseberries for a jammy, sweet-tart filling nestled under a golden, flaky crust.
We threw tradition out the door with this galette, opting for a tangy cream cheese–based dough instead of the usual sweet French pastry one. The dough is flavored with thyme to contrast the sweet flavor of the blackberry filling, adding complexity. And thanks to the help of a food processor, it all comes together easily. Before adding in the filling, sprinkle the dough with sugar to create a barrier, preventing soggy crust. Once baked, you’ve got yourself a tender, tart, and rustic dessert that has summer written all over it.
We’re big fans of rhubarb crisp, but we wanted to create a dessert that’s a bit sweeter, with a more complex flavor. So we sought out the best strawberries we could find, and we combined them with the rhubarb. To further the complexity of flavors, we added anise seed and Chinese five-spice, which complement the rhubarb, along with elderflower, which heightens the aroma of both fruits. Whole wheat flour is used for the streusel to create a graham cracker–like flavor, which beautifully tops off the gooey, tender fruit.
Whipping up the perfect peach cobbler is much simpler than you might think. The peaches are combined with the flavorings of lemon juice, bourbon, nutmeg, and almond extract while cornstarch thickens the peach juices just enough. A simple syrup glaze browns the biscuit topping, leaving you with a moist and tender cobbler to keep in your summer dessert rotation.
If you’re in need of a quick dessert, this fruit crisp comes together in under 30 minutes. The juicy plum filling is made on the stovetop, and the dish gets its crisp from toasted streusel—meaning there’s absolutely no baking required. For a touch of nuttiness, we add hazelnuts to the streusel, though any nuts, such as pecans, almonds, or walnuts, will do. You can have a buttery, supple crisp in no time whenever you need to satisfy those pie cravings, stat.
Though we’re partial to the ripe, sweet summer fruit from the farmers market, sometimes we’re stuck with the supermarket stuff. But fear not—just a few simple tricks can help you make the most of them. In this case, if you find yourself with sour or underripe blackberries, a handful of raspberries will help round out their bite while a pinch of baking soda will help neutralize any excess acidity. A dash of cinnamon brings out the natural flavor of the blackberries, as they become warm and jammy under a light and crispy biscuit crust.
We’ve officially reached the dog days of summer, which means the use of the oven is best kept at a minimum. But you can still satisfy your appetite for pie with this easy variation. A quick graham cracker crust will save you from the fuss of making a dough from scratch while a smooth layer of cream cheese adds a tangy flavor in between the crust and the blueberries. It all comes together in a cast-iron skillet, and the broiler will save you from breaking a sweat.
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