We take the match for granted now, but whoever first thought of pairing sweetened fruit with delectable pastry was a culinary genius. Whether you enjoy creating fancy piecrusts or prefer to drop dollops of pastry atop your fruit filling, there's a pastry/fruit dessert that's just right for you.
Classic cobblers and crisps are easier, faster versions of pie and may be welcome alternatives on swelteringly summer days — although a summer pie can be made early in the morning before it’s too hot in the kitchen.
Cobblers and Slumps
Think of a cobbler as a deep-dish fruit pie, but instead of piecrust simply top it with a biscuit dough before baking. Varieties of cobbler include the Betty (a baked pudding with sweet, spiced fruit and buttered breadcrumbs), the slump (stewed or baked fruit topped with a rolled biscuit dough), and the buckle (a cake-like bottom layer with berries mixed in or layered on top, covered with a crumbly topping).
Cobblers most commonly come in single fruit varieties and are named accordingly: apple, peach, or cherry cobbler. But mixed fruits produce some great results, too: strawberry/rhubarb, blackberry/cherry, and peach/apricot, for example. The terrific idea of topping the fruit cobbler with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream seems to have originated in the southern United States.
Recipes to try:
In-season peaches are transformed into a golden brown cobbler, perfectly and conveniently seasoned with Frontier Tagine Seasoning.
Like the cobbler, a crisp offers plenty of syrupy baked fruit goodness, but instead of a biscuit topping it sports a crumbly crust. The classic fruit choice is apples, but any fruit can star. The ingredients for the crumbly crisp topping are usually butter, sugra (white or brown), flour and cinnamon. Sometimes oats are included, too. Be sure to experiment with other spices in your topping: ginger, nutmeg, and cardamom are good bets.
Recipes to try:
Snappy Apple Crisp
Apples come into season in late summer. If you like fruit crisps especially juicy, reduce the flour in the fruit mixture to just a few tablespoons. Leave the skins on the apples because they add fiber and flavor or they can be peeled if you prefer.
Mango Macadamia Crisp
Macadamia orchards grace the island of Hawaii. Soft, sweet mangoes are a lovely surprise under this faintly familiar topping.
Pies are a welcome dessert at any meal, in any season. Sweet and crunchy, nutty and fruity — there are so many delicious possibilities!
Fruit pies are usually made as "filled" — where a pie dish is covered in pastry, the fruit placed on top of that, with a top crust covering both. But there are other options for fruits and pie-like pastries, too, including the rustic galette and the fancy fruit tart.
Pies can be made in a variety of sizes, ranging from bite-size, hand-held varieties (especially fun for picnics) to pies designed for multiple servings at family meals. They can be served warm or cool, often with ice cream, fresh cream or milk — making them even more enticing.
All pies start with the pastry, so you want to make sure you have a favorite surefire crust you can rely on. If you don't have your own favorite crust recipe, try this all-purpose crust that can be used for any pie. Once you have a successful crust you can reliably whip up, the rest is, well, easy as pie.
Recipes to try:
Vegan Pumpkin Pie
Discover how to achieve a flaky crust and custard-like filling without butter, cream or eggs in this vegan pumpkin pie recipe.
Gingered Butternut Pie in Walnut Cereal Crust
Some veggies make stellar pies, too. Ginger (ground and crystallized) and cinnamon spice up sweetened squash in this open-topped refrigerator pie.
Cranberry Apple Pie
This summery Plum Galette is an easy but fancy-looking pie of sorts.