What's In Season: Late-Summer Pies
Whether you’re craving salty or sweet, these three easy-to-master pies will help you savor summer and welcome fall
Given the abundance of crops currently in the field, there’s no better time to bake a pie, says Phoebe Lawless, owner and chef of Scratch Bakery in Durham, North Carolina. Emptying the produce drawer into a pie shell is a long-standing Dixie tradition. “There isn’t this history of urban neighborhood bakeries in the South, because back in the day most of the baking was done at home, and recipes and technique were passed down in the family,” Lawless says. “Pies have long been an easy way to put supper or a sweet dessert on the table.” Lawless wasn’t always a pie guru. She came into baking later in life while working with renowned Magnolia Grill pastry chef Karen Barker. “It was her appreciation of pie that opened my eyes to it as a legitimate category of baking,” says Lawless, who recently received a James Beard Award nomination for her pastry prowess. “In a way, pies are the perfect baked goods because they let you incorporate ingredients that are readily available, and the long growing season in the South provides access to incredible produce year-round.”
Use her piecrust recipe (below)—an ideal vessel for any of these three fresh fillings—to savor the changing seasons, slice by slice.
James Beard–nominated pastry chef Phoebe Lawless, of Scratch Bakery in Durham, North Carolina, says there are two secrets to perfect piecrust: practice and good-quality unsalted butter. Her simple, universal recipe works with sweet and savory pies.
(Makes four 9-inch rounds of dough)
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
10 oz. cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup very cold water
In a food processor, mix flour, sugar, and salt until thoroughly combined. Cut butter into dry ingredients and pulse until a coarse, peppercorn-size meal forms. Transfer into a large bowl.
With a fork, incorporate small amounts of water into the mix, about 3 to 4 tablespoons at a time, just until dough is slightly moist and holds together when clumped.
Gather dough into a large mound on a clean work surface. Cut into 4 equal portions and shape into balls. Wrap each in plastic and press into 1-inch-thick flat rounds, making sure no dough is exposed. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or freeze up to 2 months.
To roll pastry, remove dough from fridge and let stand 10 to 15 minutes. (If frozen, defrost in fridge overnight.) Liberally flour work surface, pastry, and rolling pin, and roll dough from the center outward, rotating it 10 to 15 degrees after each press. Add flour as needed to prevent sticking. Once dough is roughly 10 to 11 inches in diameter, roll it all onto pin and transfer onto pie dish. Press lightly to form, leaving about a 1-inch overhang. Tuck edges under and crimp. Fill as desired.