Summer by the Slice

Summer is here, local fruit is ripening, and that means one thing: Pie! Pie is on the short list of things that will compel me to turn on my oven in the humid Iowa summer months. Pie is the perfect dessert (or, who am I kidding, breakfast) because it can be rustic or fancy, is the answer for most any craving, and always tastes better with ice cream or whipped topping. I’ve yet to meet someone whose eyes don’t light up when asked if she’d like a slice of homemade pie and ice cream.

Every pie starts with a buttery, flaky crust. My go-to is Mark Bittman’s Flaky Pie Crust from How to Cook Everything. Side note: Every kitchen should have this cookbook! I try to avoid partially-hydrogenated oil unless I’m craving an Oreo…or when it comes to graham cracker crusts. If you want to buy graham crackers or pre-made crusts without hydrogenated oils, you have to do some searching because all of the mainstream national brands contain the stuff. Me? I hate making graham cracker crusts so I end up buying the trans-fatty, pre-made version and then redeem myself by making homemade bread and reading extra bedtime stories to A. I’m a work in progress.

One more thing, and then I promise I’ll get to the pies…if you’re scared of pie crust, no worries! Just make a gallete and you’ll sound super impressive when you explain to your friends and family, “Oh, this? It’s just a free-form pie.”


And now, without further adieu, my top five summer pies.

Aissa with Pie1.Ellie Krieger’s Double Chocolate Pudding Pie. This pie calls for bittersweet chocolate and cocoa which results in a pure chocolate flavor instead of the cloying sweetness of many chocolate cream pies. Bonus: This recipe comes from Krieger’s Eating Healthy in 2009 so you can eat it as part of a healthy diet!

2. Frozen Key Lime Pie. Pssst! Don’t tell the Barefoot Contessa, but I used regular limes once and it was still delicious! Make this pie the day before a summer BBQ, pop it in the freezer, and then show up with this in hand like you own the backyard.

3. Grandma Ivy’s Super Peach Pie. This pie is in honor of my Grandma Ivy, who always had a hot meal waiting for Grandpa at noon and enough ice cream in her freezer to feed a small army of grandkids. Just as the name suggests, it’s super…and super easy!

3 large, ripe peaches, sliced into a pre-baked 9” pie shell. Set aside.
Smash 2 more ripe peaches and place into a medium saucepan. Add:
1 c. sugar
3 T. corn starch whisked into ½ c. water
Stir to combine and cook 5 minutes, or until boiling. Add ½ t. almond extract and 2 T. Butter. Pour over the sliced peaches in the pie shell. Chill. Serve with fresh whipped cream.

4. Chris Mackey’s Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumb Pie.. My good friend Chris Mackey is more than you could hope for in a friend and this pie is kinda like that too–it’s a pie and a fruit crisp in one!

1 egg
1 c. sugar
2 T. all-purpose flour
1 t. vanilla
¾ lb. fresh rhurbarb, trimmed and cut into ½” pieces
1 pint fresh strawberries, rinsed and halved
1 9” unbaked pie shell

¾ c. flour
½ c. packed brown sugar
½ c. oatmeal (quick-cooking is fine)
½ c. cold butter

In large mixing bowl, beat egg. Add sugar, flour, and vanilla and mix to combine. Gently fold in rhubarb and strawberries. Pour into unbaked pie shell.
For topping, combine flour, brown sugar, and oats in a small bowl. Cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over fruit. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 35-40 minutes, until golden brown and fruit is bubbling. Cool on wire rack.

5. Spiced Raspberry Pie from The New Basics Cookbook is my all-time favorite berry pie recipe. It’s worth the trip to the liquor store to buy framboise liqueur, even if you do feel 80 years old standing in line amongst young people buying half-racks of beer.

Pie crust:
Prepare a double recipe of Mark Bittman’s Flaky Pie Crust, adding: ½ t. ground cinnamon, 1 t. grated orange zest to the flour mixture. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate while you make the filling.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

1 quart fresh raspberries, lightly rinsed and drained
1 c. sugar
1/3 c. Framboise liqueur
¼ c. corn starch
1 T. fresh lemon juice
Pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
1 t. milk

Prepare the filling: Gently combine the raspberries with the sugar in a medium-sized bowl. In a small bowl, stir the framboise and cornstarch together until smooth. Gently add the framboise mixture, lemon juice, and salt to the berries. Set them aside.

Remove the pie dough from the refrigerator and cut off about 2/3 of the dough for the bottom shell. Roll the chilled dough out on a lightly floured surface to form an 11” circle. Transfer it to a 9” pie dish and press it into the bottom and sides. Trim the dough, leaving a 1” overhang. Gather up the excess pastry, add it to the smaller piece of dough, and roll it out in an 11-inch circle and cut it into 1/2”-wide lattice strips.

Carefully spoon the reserved raspberry mixture into the pie shell. Weave the lattice strips over the top, fold the ends over the edge, and trim away any remaining excess pastry. Crimp the edge decoratively.

Blend the egg yolk and milk in a small bowl and carefully brush this glaze over the lattice.

Place the pie plate on a baking sheet to catch any drips and bake on the upper rack of the oven for 15 minutes. Then, reduce heat to 350, transfer the pie to the lower rack, and cook until the crust is golden and the berries are bubbling, 35-40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.


How about you?  Any favorite pies to share with us?!

Sherri is a transplant from Oregon who came to be a Hawkeye in 2006 and stayed for the sweet corn...and for the Iowa boy she met along the way! She and her husband (Kyle) have a 9 year-old daughter, Aissa. Sherri earned her Ph.D. in Higher Education and Student Affairs at The University of Iowa and works for Ruffalo Noel Levitz as an Enrollment Marketing Consultant for colleges and universities. When she's not working, you can find her with her family, enjoying Iowa City and cheering on the Hawkeyes.


  1. Ooooo! We just planted raspberry bushes at our house. I’ll let you use the berries, but only if you make me pie #5 🙂


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