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Baking Summer Fruit Desserts

These tips will make it as easy as ... well, pie!

child eating pie

— Beau Lark/Corbis

Few desserts are as reliably satisfying as a slice of warm fruit pie, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream as an added bonus. In late summer, low-cost fresh fruit is in plentiful supply — so the time is ripe to put a pie in the oven.

But even seasoned bakers find pie making a challenge, particularly when it comes to the crust. Here are some simple tips that will help you get past any pastryphobia:

Keep things cold. The key ingredients — water or other liquid and shortening, such as butter or lard — should be icy cold for the flakiest results. Freezing the butter, then grating it into the flour with a cheese grater, ensures that it keeps its low temperature. 

Put it in the fridge. The dough should be refrigerated for at least 30 minutes before rolling, which will result in ideal flakiness. 

Work quickly. Handling the dough too much raises its temperature and can cause a tougher crust. The rolling, too, should also be done as quickly as possible. Use parchment or wax paper to make transfer and cleanup easier.

Moisten gradually. Start with less than the full amount of liquid required, and stop just when the dough is wet enough to hold together, but not sticky.

Pitch a tent. If the top crust or the edges of the pie look like they are browning too quickly while the pie is baking, use tin foil to cover.

Protect against drips. You can bake pies directly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in case any of the pie’s juices or filling bubble over.

Enough hints. Let’s get cooking. Here are five summer fruit pies that everyone is sure to love. Happy baking!

Blueberry Pie
A recipe from a beloved bakery above the cliffs of Big Sur.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Lattice Pie
A classic combination of strawberry and rhubarb.

Peach-Raspberry Pie
As beautiful to look at as it is to eat. Try a lattice crust for variation.

Blackberry and Apple Pie
A favorite British recipe that calls only for a top crust.

Flag-Raising Mixed-Berry Potpie
Use your favorite combination of fruit with the foolproof cream cheese pastry crust.

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