Plum pie

Photo: Ken Haedrich

1. The Plum Pie You Really Cannot Mess Up
Cakes can flop, breads may not rise, but pies? Even if pie juices run out the moment you cut into one or the crust has some cracks (or a chasm the size of Rhode Island), it's still going to be good. Really. Just serve it in a bowl with some ice cream. Hello: It's pie! If you're really pastry-phobic, though, start by making this Skillet Plum Pie from baking authority Ken Haedrich, founder and so-called dean of The Pie Academy (his demonstration videos show everything from how to keep the edge of your pie from burning to how to make an impressive-looking "floating top" pie). He says these old-fashioned desserts are always a smart move for pastry-fearing bakers, since there's no bottom crust with which to mess. Just mix the plum filling right in the pan, cover it with your crust—don't worry if it's not rolled perfectly—and bake it in the skillet. Big flavor, lots of rustic charm.

Get the recipe: Skillet Plum Pie
Peach pie

Photo: Ken Haedrich

2. The Peachy, Crumbly Dessert That Would Totally Work as Breakfast
The presence of oatmeal and fruit make this crumb pie perfectly acceptable for breakfast; it's especially good cold, right out of the fridge. Make it with the best peaches you can find—you'll really taste the difference. (Even when Haedrich buys peaches at a farmers' market or fruit stand, he doesn't immediately spring for an entire basket. Instead, he buys one, has a bite, and only if it's perfectly ripe, flavorful and juicy buys more.)

Get the recipe: Peach Crumb Pie
Berry pie

Photo: Ken Haedrich

3. The Heavenly Combination of Your Favorite Summer Fruits
A trifecta of blueberries, strawberries and blackberries, this over-the-top pie from Haedrich brightens up with a teaspoon of orange zest. And while you can't go wrong with vanilla ice cream on the side, lemon sorbet makes a surprisingly good pairing, too: the acidic citrus balances the berries' sweetness.

Get the recipe: Triple Berry Pie
Cherry pie

Photo: Ken Haedrich

4. The Cherry Pie That Got an Upgrade
Though tart cherries, nutty-flavored almonds and tropical coconut may seem an unlikely trio, Haedrich says they go together perfectly in a pie (when you think about it, the combo probably makes a killer trail mix or granola, too). He uses sweet summer cherries, and combines the almond and coconut in a crumbly streusel.

Get the recipe: Cherry Pie with Almond Crumb Topping
Lemon pie

Photo: The Judds

5. The Puckery Dark Horse
Okay, so lemons aren't technically a warm-weather fruit, but this super-simple pie from Naomi Judd is so bright and beautiful, it's a welcome addition to the typical buffet spread of cobblers, fruit salads, cookies and/or brownies. Like with most custard pies, making it entails only pre-baking the crust and pouring in the filling—that's it.

Get the recipe: The Best Lemon Pie

Next: More beginner-friendly pies


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