Cookbooks: A Year of Pies

July 31, 2012(updated on February 3, 2023)

I did not grow up in a household where dessert was a regular thing. More often than not, when we asked about a sweet treat after dinner, we were pointed to the fruit bowl or a jar of applesauce. However, once or twice a year, there would be pie.

The pie happened on no particular schedule. My mom baked in response to her own cravings and could not be hurried or begging into producing pie. We learned early that it was better to leave her alone and accept the serendipitous pie than try to wheedle it into being. And accept it, we did. Her pies were always sturdy, not-too-sweet creations that piled mountains of fruit into a nutty, half whole wheat crust. My favorite thing was being allowed a slice for breakfast the next day.

Thanks to this early conditioning, pie will be forever feel like a way create a special occasion out of a Wednesday evening. It’s one of the things I hope to do with my kids someday (of course, I have to have them first).

You may be asking yourself, why is Marisa waxing poetic about her childhood pie memories? I recently got a review copy of Ashley English’s new book, A Year of Pies, and now I can’t stop thinking about tucking food, both sweet and savory, between layers of crust.

Some of you probably know Ashley from her blog, Small Measure, or from her other four (!) books on all manner homesteady topics like Keeping Bees and Canning and Preserving. This book is similar in organization to her previous ones in that it offers an extensive section towards the front of the book that walks you through the equipment, the different kinds of crusts (and what each is best for), tips on rolling and the various techniques you can employ to achieve gorgeous crusts, before moving on to the recipes.

Once through that grounding section, the rest of the book is arranged by season, proving unequivocally that pie isn’t just a summer and fall dessert. Any winter day would be made better by the Maple Orange Walnut Pie on page 55 on the Carrot Pie on page 77.

The book contains sweet pies, savory pies (like the homey Chicken Pot Pie pictured below), tarts, galettes, crostada and hand pies. There are both bake and no-bake options and even a pie version of Polish-style stuffed cabbage. Ashley also invited a few of her blogging friends to contribute recipes, including a Gluten-Free Streusel Apple Pie from Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking author Kate Payne.

For those of us who are working our way through baskets of berries and armloads of peaches this time of year, I think it’s important to put a little of that fruit aside and make something that allows us to enjoy the bounty now, as well as later. Pie is on my to-do list for later this week.

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571 thoughts on "Cookbooks: A Year of Pies"

  • I grew up in the Carpathian Mountains, eating my mother amazing and delicious pies!
    One of the strongest memories is a shredded pumpkin and walnuts pie. After my mother died I tried to reproduce that pie, but with no success…the taste wasn’t the same…I think because that was the childhood taste!

  • My most memorable pie was my “vinegar pie” that I made when I was 5 or 6. I used to wake up earlier than everyone else and play around in the kitchen, and I made a sweet pie one morning, but it contained vinegar (why, I don’t even know). Trying to make it catchy, I named it “vinegar pie.” Everyone in my family – including my parents – promptly refused to eat it. It was the first time, though, that I realized that ingredients could be transformed. I took a while for me to appreciate all of this, and I just really started cooking when I had my own kids, but I try to encourage “vinegar pies” in my kids – and taste them, even if I chase it with lots of water! πŸ™‚

  • As a kid, I had a real thing for raw pie dough. My mother was a pie baker, on occasion, and she firmly believed that the pie dough gods were either with you or against you on any particular day that you decided to roll out dough. I would sit on the counter at the age of 3 or 4 and watch, and eat the dough trimmings raw. I once watched her throw out an entire ball of dough, because it just wasn’t coming together well, and start over. Favorite pie: key lime (Cooks Illustrated recipe with 3 ingredients – lime juice and zest, eggs and sweetened condensed milk) and pumpkin with the spice mix used on the back of the Libbys can, but made from home grown pumpkin. Would love a copy of the book. Loved her other books.

  • I love making pies and the fact that my mother taught me, from the perfect flaky crust to the delicious fruit fillings. To me, pies show love to those you care about. I make a pumpkin pie for my mom’s October birthday every year, but my most memorable pie is the fresh apple pie I made for my husband (then, fiance) over 12 years ago. We had picked the apples at a local orchard together, and I wowed him with my abilities to make them into an apple pie from scratch. He hadn’t had such deliciousness growing up, and I’ve been wooing him with my skills in the kitchen ever since.

  • I love pie! I grew up with wonderful cherry and apple pies my Dad used to make. I soooo wish I would have paid more attention to how he made his crust, even the little old ladies at church would say his crust was the best. I guess I need to just keep experimenting until I get what I remember, pure flaky deliciousness! πŸ™‚
    Sweet times and great memories β™₯

  • For me, pie means time spent with my husband Ray. We’ve been entering pie competitions together for the past 2 years, and tomorrow will mark our 5th competition! We always have fun working together: He makes a wonderfully flaky and buttery crust, while I focus on filling and top crust design.

    For me, I think cherry pie may be my favorite traditional-style pie, though, when Autumn comes around, nothing beats a Dutch Apple pie!

  • The first pie I made when my husband and I got our first apartment was a Pumpkin pie. I didn’t know how to make a pie crust so I bought a frozen shell. I filled the pie, baked it and was so excited to eat it. When we sliced it and started to eat it we noticed something was wrong…there was a weird layer between the pumpkin and the shell. I couldn’t figure out what the thin whitish layer was until my husband said “it tastes like paper”. I had left the wax paper in the bottom of the shell when I filled it!

    1. When I first started making pies, a sweet potato it was, my two aunts that were wonderful pie makers were tasting it and their first comment was Dena, you do make your own crust don’t you!

  • I’m taking this Summer off to spend more time with my young daughter – they grow up so fast!! I’m a good cook but I’m new to baking… So this has become our Summer project and we are having so much fun! And making some really yummy treats πŸ™‚
    The favourites so far — apricot pie and cherry pie.

  • I also am intimidated by pie crusts so I bake a lot of crust-less crumble pie type desserts; my favorites are apple and peach although a pecan pie is probably my all time favorite, but alas pecan trees are few and far between here in southwestern Idaho. We have an amazing variety of fruits available locally so I make do, deliciously.

  • Oh we are pie snobs in my family! We eat pie the way normal Americans eat cake. And specifically apple pie. Big chunky slices of apples- not thin and wimpy. A few varieties of apples- some tart and some sweeter. But not too sweet. We like a little bite to it. An obscene amount of cinnamon goes into the sugar. Dash…what’s a dash…we want it bold. And the MOST IMPORTANT part is the homemade crust. We are crisco lovers when it comes to crust. We’ve had family pie crust taste tests on holidays. True story. I know Martha and Ina wax poetic about butter in a crust but nothing is as flaky as crisco. I had our family pie crust recipe memorized by the age of six at least. That sort of made me a strange kid- ha. But then I grew up and found food blogs and all was right in the world. πŸ™‚

    I LOVE pie!

  • Growing up my aunt was always the pie maker at family events. Pumpkin and pecan were staples year round (not just during the holidays). I would love to be able to contribute something new to mix with a fruit pie but have never made one on my own before…this book sounds like an awesome way to learn

  • Once a year I throw a pie party-hand pies, tarts, quiches, and a double crust blueberry pie. It is, hands-down, my favorite night of the year!

  • My mom always made zucchini pie when I was a child, kind of a quiche-like mix of zucchini, onions, herbs, eggs and cheese. Every time I make it, it takes ne right back to the Midwest.

  • My grandmother made pies, my mother made pies and I make pies. Our family favorite is Deep Dish Apple Pie with rum sauce. Buttery, warm goodness enveloping the tartness of granny Smith Apples. Pie is where the heart is for me. I love making crust and creating something from love. This book is gorgeous!

  • My Mom was not a pie maker but at my Grandpa’s house where I would spend lots of time in the summer my cousin was. There I discovered Lemon Meringue pies. I was a rather willful child and was pleased to discover the power I had when upon refusing to make me a pie I went crying to my Grandpa and was gobsmacked when he demanded she…my cousin, drop what she was doing and make me one!

  • I’ve made plenty of pre-made crust + jar of pumpkin pies in my life… and that was just fine. But last Thanksgiving my brother got it in to his head that he wanted to make a lattice apple pie. Neither him or I had any experience in this at all. But we did it – and it was beautiful and delicious! I’ve been hooked on pies ever since. πŸ™‚

  • Love pretty much all pie – there’s something about it that just gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling. BUT – hands down – strawberry rhubarb is my favorite pie of all time.

  • The very first pie I ever made from scratch was for a family bbq, it was a work of art! It was my first foray into Martha Stewartism, and I was so so proud. Then my momma dropped it.

  • Strangely, I don’t enjoy eating fruit pies that much, but I love baking them. I make them for my family, and they all enjoy them. I would love to learn more about savoury pies, so I could enjoy them too!

  • My absolute favorite pie memory was as a child, of course. My FATHER is a stupendous baker. (my mother burns water). But apple pies around my house were something to be extremely excited about. They only came once a year, at thanksgiving & maybe Christmas if u were lucky. I will always cherish the memories of myself & my dad peeling & slicing apples by hand & learning the feel of the dough when it was just right. & Oh my gosh, the smell of freshly baked apple pie would fill the entire house. My favorite favorite part, the left over dough. Most people throw it away but my dad would roll it out on a baking sheet, cover with butter, cinnamon & sugar & bake, for a small preview of what was to come. Baking apple pie with my father is one of my happy places. πŸ™‚

  • My paternal grandfather always said, “There’s only two kinds of pie I like, hot and cold!” I share that same feeling. I love pie! Coconut cream is my absolute favorite.

  • I stumbled my way through the whole pie crust affair and ended up with total failures many years ago. Like others, I switched to crumble or graham cracker type pies.

    Holidays in our house are non-existent if I skip the Banana Cream. I can have all the burners running on the stove, oven filled, refrigerator filled, and my sons will start looking for the pies. If they don’t find them, I’ll hear about it until the next holiday. Two sons and they both want a pie to take home along with a pie to eat at my house.

  • There is something nostalgic and comforting about pies for me. My Polish grandma made the best pies and a good lemon meringue takes me back to her farmhouse kitchen, although it could never be as good as hers. Her pies are one of my favorite childhood memories. I love desserts of all kinds but pie holds a special place. I think I’ll go watch Waitress and make a pie tonight. πŸ™‚

  • My grandparents on my father’s side made pies and other baked goods in the basement of our farmhouse at night and sold them the next morning to local restaurants. (This was back before inspections were necessary.) As a young married woman, my mother was drafted into helping, and she learned to make a very good pie crust, and she, in turn, taught me as I became old enough to accomplish that feat. Now I am known as the pie baker in the my husband’s family– when we have a family pot-luck get together, everyone expects me to bring the pies. And they are pretty good, if I must say so myself!

  • I remember a few years back at Christmas, I was baking this huge Carmel Apple Pie. I asked my hubby to get me a pizza pan to prevent spilling in the oven, he handed me the thinnest on I own and I should have known better. I set the pie on it on the counter, open the oven and started to move it to the oven. You must see where this is going, not far! It ended up all over me and the floor! I let out a blood curdling scream, I know because my hubby told me so later, as it was on the way down! The next thing I know I look up to see all three children and hubby looking around the door with horrified looks on their faces! Well, I had a few options at that point, but I calmly asked the hubby to go get me some more apples; ) Every one’s horrified looks faded to a smile and later that day Christmas dinner and desert was a success! I love baking pies!

  • My Mom always made coconut pie because my Dad loved it. I can still see them making it together in the kitchen. The funny thing is I don’t like coconut, except for my Mom’s coconut pie.

  • Every holiday with my family meant one thing for certain: we’d have to find the pie. My grandmother was a maker of pies so delicious, that at least one uncle would steal a pie from the kitchen and hide it somewhere in the house, so that he could have it all to himself (in the hall closet under a hat was a favourite hiding spot). It never worked, but bless them for trying. My grandma’s butterscotch pie was the most frequently thieved. I still dream about it!

  • My dad and I have always had birthday pies instead of birthday cakes. And, of course, it was more acceptable to have leftovers for breakfast!

  • My fondest memories was growing up as a child and my mother making pies from scratch. She makes the best apple and lemon meringue pies. She is 82 years old now and still bakes them. I have tried to copy hers but they never come out the same. I think she just pours so much love into them

  • I have a recurring fight with a few people over whether or not cheescake is a type of pie! How can they think something that is baked in a springform pan, has minimal crust and is basically a custard be pie?? blasphemy!

  • This has been an incredibly rich summer for rhubarb pies! Where I’m from nothing says summer like a hearty slice of rhubarb pie out in the screened in porch after dinner.

  • I remember when I was young my grandma would pull up a stool in her restaurant and let me help her make pie. Often we had picked the fruit that was going into the pie. After the pie was in the oven, I got to roll out the scraps of dough, sprinkle them with cinnamon/sugar, and bake them as well. I still love to do this as a favorite snack. I love looking back on this time spent with my grandma as I hope to pass her wisdom onto my girls now.

  • My grandmother used to make the best pie, and not generally the most conventional ones. My favorite was always the Sour Cream Raisin Pie – one that I’ve never seen recreated anywhere, except in my mother’s kitchen. Because it is loaded with eggs, cream and sugar, she now only makes it once a year, and eat bite is savored, bringing with it so many memories. The filling is a rich, silken custard, spiced with cinnamon and clove and each plump raisin bursts in your mouth. I love how the meringue weeps, dripping with sweet drops. Each year my mother tries to match the perfect pies my grandmother made, and each year she comes close, but not quite. We still get excited when it’s time for that pie though, fighting over who gets the largest piece!

  • I come from a family of pie makers. Grandma, great aunts, mom, aunts, all made pies during my bringing up. Naturally, I’ve past it on to my children, who are in their thirties now. We’ve made pies together through phone calls, both doing a step, then calling to talk about the next step. They both use home made pies to impress, either at work, or to impress a date. My son’s coconut cream pie won a contest for his team at work. It’s a skill they will enjoy all their lives.

  • My sister and I are preparing to make several pies for my bridal shower! Peach -raspberry, blueberry, apple and cherry!

  • The most memorable pie story I have is when I was a teenager my mom made a pecan pie for the bridge club. We weren’t rich by any measure and buying all those nuts made a pecan pie really special and memorable. Well, it was also April Fool’s Day, someone switched the salt for the sugar in the pantry and well, you can probably imagine the faces of the bridge club when they bit into the pie. I was always blamed for this because when my mom retold the story the next morning, I laughed. But it wasn’t me…I believe it was my father who never took responsibility…..Anyway, to this day, I love a nice gooey pecan pie! I’d love to win the book so that I could perfect crust making which is a promise I’ve been making to myself! Thanks to Lark Books, Ashley and of course, you Marisa for the opportunity to get this book!

  • I use a tip from Cooks Illustrated which makes for a truly fool-proof pie crust: vodka instead of ice water. Works like a charm!

  • My grandmother used to make the best pies! Cherry was always my favorite. Now I always have to make pumpkin because that is my hubby’s favorite. I can’t wait to try some new recipes from the book!

  • I would like the book to give to my son. I can bake pies, but he is a Piemaker and I would love for him to have a copy of this wonderful book

  • I love pie. It’s one of the first things that got me interested in cooking and my apple pie is one of the most requested things that I make. I’ve been making pies for years, but always cheated on the crust, using the same press-in-pan recipe for year. After 10 years of trying, I am proud to say that I finally figured out the trick to a perfect, ROLLED pie crust (freezing the butter and keeping the dough cold) thanks to Simply Recipes! I’ll never make a press-in-pan crust again, except graham cracker, of course!

  • i love all fruit pies! Any fruit pie will beat chocolate dessert, everytime, hands down. I made a Carmelized Apple with Honey and Thyme pie out of the NYT a few years ago for Christmas and it is now my favorite. the thyme adds a wonderful undertone.

  • My fondest pie memory is the first taste of the blueberry pies my Aunt Linda would bake with the blueberries my cousins and I would spend days picking in the hot sun during the summers I’d spend with them at their house in Maine. Apple and pumpkin pies with my mom (& especially the next morning for breakfast) come in at a close second πŸ™‚

  • Mmm…Pie. Both my family and my husband’s family are prodigious eaters of pie. His grandfather has been known to eat a whole pie in one sitting, such that at family holidays, there are usually pies for everyone else, and a pie for grandpa. (He still has a “courtesy helping” of all the other pies, of course!)

  • My favorite pie memory is making pumpkin pie for my host family when I lived in the Czech Republic as an exchange student. The thought of using pumpkin for sweet desserts was extremely odd to them and no one in the family owned a pie plate. My host mom was curious though so she bought a pumpkin to use. Pumpkin is my favorite pie flavor so I was eager to try making one, but I had never tried making pie crust myself and I had to google instructions for using a fresh pumpkin. I had to use a casserole dish to bake the pie but some how I managed to make a pumpkin pie for everyone to try. We cut tiny pieces so the whole family could try. Some liked it, some didn’t, but it was a lot of fun to share pumpkin pie with them.

  • my grandmother taught my mother how to make her french apple pie, thus my mother taught me and we have been making it every since … my husband likes pumpkin so I borrowed a recipe from his family and now everyone enjoys both …

  • My mother made the best pies in the world. (Luckily my sister inherited that gene.) One year at Thanksgiving my mom outdid herself on the pumpkin pie. I literally could not stop eating it. On the day after Thanksgiving, my husband and I went to visit some other relatives for a few hours. When we returned, my mom had made me my very own pie to take home with me. Heaven!

  • When my grandparents first got married my Grandmother made a cherry pie for my Grandfather, who looked at it and said to her, “Ethel, this crust looks a little grey.” She didn’t say a word, just picked up the pie, threw it against the wall, and left the room.

    She never made him another pie, ever.

    My mother was understandably afraid of ever making a pie, so I never had a good pie memory until I met my husband. One of the best pies I ever had was with him in Maine, where, after a casual meal of lobster and baked potatoes, we were given individual blueberry pies a la mode for dessert. It was a revelation. Oh, this is what the fuss is about!

    My family now loves pie and my husband and I both make them throughout the year. But we are always looking for new ideas, and I would love this book.

  • Every year when I was growing up, and still to this day, my parent’s went down to the farmer’s market in late summer and fall, and bought fruit to make pies. They only made two kinds, apple and raspberry. My mom makes the best pie crust ever, and my dad would do the filling. Then, the pies would go into the freezer, and we’d have delicious pie all year long!

  • Growing up, both houses we lived in had an apple tree. No idea what variety, but both grew tart green skinned apples with a bit of a red blush. My mom would make pies from them and would peel, chop and freeze bags of extras so pies and other apple goodies would be around the rest of the year. My mom was not the best at crusts–hers were of the “sturdy” variety, versus the “flaky” type. I was over at the house the other day, and despite the drought conditions, it looks like this is going to be a banner year for apples. Better get my peeler ready!

  • It’s crazy to think that for my love of pie, I always seem to get something wrong. I definitely can’t seem to make a latticework pie or any pie with a cute topping and I tend to make pretty runny pies πŸ™‚ Thankfully my messy pies are still delicious – one day I’ll get it all right!

  • As much as I love making and eating homemade key lime pie whenever I can get fresh key limes at my local market, squeezing the juice out of the little emerald jewels is a royal pain…so I have learned to enlist my husband to “squeeze duty”…it cuts my prep time by half and by the time he’s done, everything is mixed…just add the juice, mix and throw in the oven…so easy, so good, and tart!

  • A butter-based pie crust was the first recipe that I ever learned, and it will probably be the last recipe that I ever forget!

  • I do enjoy making a pie, and I especially love making the crust. My grandmother taught me to make pies and tarts, and I have such happy memories of family when working with pie dough.

  • I remember growing up in the 60’s and 70’s and going over to my Grandmothers house on Sunday’s and she would make the best pie’s apple, lemon, coconut cream, you name it and she made it, and the best crust too! But being at the young age of 57 yrs have never made a pie because I guess Im afraid of making the crust! Would love to win the cookbook so I can try and make them too. Thanks for the give away!

  • After my mother-in-law died, my father-in-law took a pie making class at the Bama pie company in Tulsa. We have been blessed with Grandpa’s pies over the years. He is very ill now but my goal is to carry on the pie making tradition. And I am hoping my girls will also pass on the legacy!

  • I will always remember the trouble I got in as a child whenever my mother baked a lemon meringue pie. I always snuck into the kitchen and ate the peaks off of the cooling pie. And when my mother found the remains of the pie I could not sit down for a week!!! Needless to say she did not bake those pies often!

  • We picked a lot of wild blueberries in July and made a small pie to share with my parents. I have a small glass pie pan that we is perfect for cutting into 4 nice sized pieces of pie. It was fun to tell my parents that we were going to each get 1/4 of a pie to eat. Beyond the novelty (for me at least!) of cutting a pie into quarters to serve, the homemade crust tasted lovely and the sweet berries were divine.

  • I really like how this book has savory as well as sweet pies, and different shapes. (My grandmother made the best pie crust.)