Fresh-baked treats are always welcome, but in the heat of the summer it can be hard to even think about turning on your oven. That changes with the arrival of autumn. When the crisp air and abundant local produce come together, you’ll know pie season has begun. So dust off your apron and ready your rolling pin—these are a few of the best pies for fall.
Any roundup of fall pies has to start here, right? Quick tip: The pumpkins you buy for carving don't make very good pie. Instead look for a thick-fleshed "pie pumpkin" or use winter squash instead. They're interchangeable for recipe purposes. Once baked, a few moments in your Vitamix machine will turn either of them into pie-ready filling. If the holidays are coming up and you're concerned about the traditional caloric overload, try low fat pumpkin pie as an alternative to your usual recipe. It has all the taste with less "waist."
Sweet Potato Pie
Winter squash isn't the only vegetable that makes a good autumn pie. Sweet potatoes are equally appropriate, so load up your cart while you do your holiday shopping. Boil or bake the sweet tubers, mash them, and they're ready to use. Sweet potato pie is rich and flavorful, whether you make a regular or low-fat version. It's typically served as a dessert, but it also fits alongside the turkey as an alternative to the candied yams.
Apple Pie and Its Kin
You can make apple pies all year long with the commercial varieties living perennially at the supermarket. It's more fun in the fall, though, when you can go to a farmer's market and find lesser-known local favorites. Whichever apples you choose, look for varieties that hold their shape and offer a good balance of sweetness and tartness. Better yet, if classic apple pie seems a bit old hat, look farther afield. Pears and quinces — a Victorian-era favorite — are closely related to apples. Use them alone or in combination with apples to bring an appealing twist to the iconic dessert.
While you're delving into vintage cookbooks in search of forgotten fall treats, keep an eye open for mock-cherry pie. In the days before refrigeration and worldwide shipping, real cherries were only available in high summer. Mock-cherry pie is made by simmering autumnal cranberries with raisins in a light sugar syrup until both are as tart and sweet as a ripe cherry. You won’t mistake the end result for a real cherry pie, but it's a tasty piece of nostalgia that's sure to get the family talking.