Summer Fruit Pies

by Ann Marie Michaels on July 8, 2008

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“When you die, if you get a choice between going to regular heaven or pie heaven, choose pie heaven. It might be a trick, but if it’s not, mmmmmmmm, boy.” — Jack Handy

We had a few people over for a BBQ on Saturday, to celebrate my 40th birthday. My friend Steven came over on Friday to help me make some pies and cobblers.

Steven Making Pie

Pie Crust

This is what a good pie crust should look like. See those hunks of butter? That is what ensures a flaky crust.

The trick to a good pie crust is this: You don’t want to handle your pie crust too much and overincorporate your fats. Also, start with very cold (frozen even) fat. You don’t want it to melt while you are working the dough. The more the fats stay together, the more air pockets you will create — which creates the flakiness.

This pie crust is made with 1/2 cup of lard (Steven rendered it at home and brought it over) and 1 cup of butter (KerryGold Irish butter — from grass-fed cows). The only other ingredients are unbleached white flour, cold filtered water, a little salt and a little stevia. — where to buy flour; where to buy filtered water; where to buy sea salt

It is essentially the recipe from Jeffrey Steingarten’s The Man Who Ate Everything. (Except I used stevia instead of sugar.) This is the recipe I have followed for years, and it comes out perfect — I mean perfect — every time. The first time you read the recipe, it is a little intimidating. It’s like 9 pages long! But once you learn how to do it, you will never use any other method.

We also brushed a little milk and egg yolk onto the tops of the pies to give them that nice golden brown tan.

Here’s the blueberry pie before we baked it:

Blueberry Pie

And here’s the apple pie prior to baking:

Apple Pie

Here’s the apple pie:

Apple Pie

And here’s the apple cobbler:

Apple Cobbler

Cobblers originated on the American frontier — when they were in the stage coaches traveling west — they could not roll out the pie dough so they had to be creative.

We used organic blueberries and organic Pink Lady apples (I prefer tart green Granny Smiths but I could not find any).

We used sucanat instead of sugar. For the apple pie, I added a little orange-flavored Armagnac that I smuggled back from my last trip to Paris. I did not add any cinnamon or nutmeg – just a little vanilla extract. — where to buy sucanat; where to buy vanilla extract

Here’s the blueberry pie out of the oven:

Blueberry Pie

The blueberry pie was quite possibly the best pie I have ever tasted. I know, I’m being immodest. But it was!

We also made a cherry cobbler. Here it is before we baked it:

Cherry Cobbler

We used organic cherries, and sucanat instead of sugar. Plus some corn starch, a little lemon and vanilla extract. And a pinch of salt.

I didn’t make enough dough so this one’s a little short. But people ate it anyway.

It was really good with the sucanat. Not too sweet. You could really taste the fruit and it was not overpowered by sugar.

We also made raw homemade ice cream to go with the pies — made from Organic Pastures raw cream (from grass-fed cows), egg yolks, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Because how can you eat pie without ice cream? — where to buy maple syrup

Here’s Seth feeding Kate ice cream at the party:

Seth and Kate on My Birthday

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane July 8, 2008 at 7:59 AM

OK enough Ann Marie! You always have me drooling!!! Happy Birthday again. Hope it’s a great year! Be blessed…oh and for you info….I’m being buried with a fork in my hand, because I’m going to be ready for the banqueting feast in heaven!!! I’ve done without for so long here, I want to be good and ready when I arrive! I hear it’s to die for…oh my, I just couldn’t resist! :D

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Jeannette July 8, 2008 at 8:25 AM

YUUUMMM! That blueberry pie looks incredible. I’m definitely going to find that pie crust recipe. Oh and I can’t wait to try my hand at making some ice cream. I just got a Cuisinart ice cream maker on eBay. :) HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

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Christine Kennedy July 8, 2008 at 8:27 AM

What a timely post Ann Marie! I finally decided what do do with all the rhubarb and strawberries I have been collecting in my organic produce boxes. I don’t make pie too often (I’ve never had great success), but I thought I would try again. So, rhubarb-strawberry pie it was. My problem has always been the crust. I always use just butter. It always comes out thick and too dense. Not flaky at all. Then I found a recipe book that said if you use all butter, your crust will be dense. But, if you like the taste of butter, but want the light, flakiness, use part butter, and part lard. So, that’s what I did this time. The crust was amazing!!! In fact, my brother said my pie was quite possibly the best pie he’s ever had! That is a great compliment, because my brother is brutally honest! He said that it was better than our mothers! Now that I am rendering my own lard and tallow, I will always use it in my pies. Not that I make a tonne of pies, but when I do, that is what I will use. I find that pies are a lot of work to make, but so worth it when they turn out! Even though my crust tasted great this time, it tore a lot. Would you mind posting the recipes for your amazing looking pies and your crust method? Your pictures are making me drool!

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Kelsey July 8, 2008 at 9:05 AM

That blueberry pie is *gorgeous* . I like milk and cheddar cheese with my pie, not ice cream. :) I eat my ice cream alone.

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Erica July 8, 2008 at 9:13 AM

Ah, yum! Wow, everything looks delicious!!

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Risa July 8, 2008 at 9:58 AM

Your pies are painfully gorgeous.

I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your blog – I live in Santa Monica, so your sources for raw milk products, grass-fed/pastured meats etc. are extremely useful for me as well! I recently discovered the WAPF and have been reading lots of Michael Pollan and Nina Planck, and your writing is a great help as well. I’m currently on SCD, trying to recover from a pretty serious bacterial overgrowth, and your GAPS tips are helpful as well. Thank you so much! And happy belated b-day!

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cheeseslave July 8, 2008 at 1:12 PM

Hi, Risa!

Thanks for commenting.

If you ever want to meet up at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, let me know. We go every Saturday morning.

Also we will be having a WAPF chapter meeting soon. Here’s the URL for our local chapter online community site:

http://wapflosangeles.ning.com/

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Janis July 13, 2008 at 12:56 PM

Those pies look out of this world!

What sweetener would you suggest for plum pie? We have a Santa Rosa plum tree which is overloaded this year. I’ve made plum crumble, plum sorbet, sweet sourdough bread layered with custard and plums, a Nancy Silverton plum pie made with a hazelnut filling, plum jam and I’ve been freezing pie filling. I’ve just been using regular sugar cause that’s what I have. The plums are quite tart without a fair amount of sugar and it makes me cringe to use that much. Is rapadura that much better?

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cheeseslave July 13, 2008 at 3:01 PM

I have never made a plum pie. What I did with my pies was I used rapadura 1 to 1 for sugar.

I was very pleased with how they came out. Not too sweet. In fact, it really allowed the flavor of the fruit to stand out. The fruit was not dominated by sugar.

I would try the rapadura I think — see how it goes.

Let us know!

Oh and don’t forget to add a pinch of sea salt. That helps to make it sweeter.

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Nicola August 14, 2010 at 2:22 PM

I have been really interested in making peach pie. Have you ever tried it? Any tips for me? I love your pie crust recipe. By far the best I have ever had. I would love to use if for a peach pie before the summer ends.

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cheeseslave August 14, 2010 at 3:15 PM

Peach pie is easy. I like it with a lattice crust — I also love peach cobbler. For the peaches, just use some lemon, cornstarch, dark brown sugar (I like muscovado) and a pinch of salt — oh and a touch of vanilla extract. I don’t like peach pie with heavy spices like cinnamon or ginger — they overpower the peach flavor.

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Nicola August 17, 2010 at 9:20 AM

Thank you! I love your site. I get so many great ideas from it. Thank you for all the time and dedication you put into it.

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Michegato May 22, 2012 at 10:05 AM

I have two of these and plan on getting more. They are great for pies ptrety to look at, and easy to pick up in the oven. You have a big fan, here. one can never have too many pie plates, aprons, or good recipes! PJ

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bonnie July 5, 2011 at 9:30 AM

Ahhh, thank you for the “chunks of butter” picture!!! I’ve never been that brave with leaving it quite so un-incorporated, but now I see it’s necessary! Cookbook after cookbook, I’ve never seen such a useful picture for pie crust.

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LeahS July 11, 2011 at 7:41 PM

OMG those are some good lookin pies!

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Alisue July 26, 2011 at 10:41 AM

Those look AMAZING!!!!

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Jill Rheinschmidt February 23, 2013 at 6:27 AM

Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive read something like this before. So good to find any person with some unique thoughts on this subject. realy thanks for starting this up. this web site is something that is needed on the internet, someone with a little originality. helpful job for bringing something new to the web!

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