With that hottest of holidays (I mean that literally) nearly upon us, please, allow me to wax poetic on the interminable greatness of pie. I celebrate pie day—technically, there are two: January 23 and March 14—every day of the year (or, more accurately, every day of the year that my wallet and pants allow). But the best time to eat pie is undoubtedly mid-summer, when fruit is at its ripest. A little flour, a little fat, and a lot of summer-sweet fruit yield the perfect dessert, in my humble opinion. And I can think of no better treat to serve at a holiday barbecue/pool party/last hurrah of summer event than this three-letter treat. So where to find the best specimens? Read on for my manifesto on East End pies in the summer of 2018.
Baker extraordinare Carissa Waechter serves up more than just pie at her formidable East Hampton bakery, but the pies in summer are show-stoppers, and well worth your hard-earned cash. Her line of meringue pies changes as the season progresses (in fall, you’ll find cranberry, pear, and other timely fruits, while early spring brings rhubarb, followed by strawberries). Crusts are made with butter—and, sometimes, the addition of thyme. These are some of the prettiest pies around, decorated with lofty piped meringue and edible flowers. Better yet: You can order yours online.
Carissa’s Bakery, 68 Newtown Lane, East Hampton, (631) 527.3996, open daily 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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Pick up some of our tart, bracing rhubarb and try this recipe for rhubarb pie, courtesy of Jennifer Zymantas: In a bowl, mix 5 cups sliced rhubarb, 1 1/4 cups sugar, 5 tablespoons flour, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Add 1 1/4 tablespoons butter on top, put it in your favorite crust, and bake.
Out in Cutchogue, you can pick your own fruit (and, presumably, bake your own fruit pie) at Wickham’s Fruit Farm, where they grow berries, cherries, peaches, pumpkins, apples, and more. But you’re best served to pick up one of their delicious, hefty, shortening-based pies, which are sometimes available oven-warm… if you happen to get lucky. Pie availability changes, so don’t miss whatever happens to be good in late August (stone fruit, for one). While you’re there, and salivating, no doubt, over the pie you will regrettably need to wait to enjoy until guests arrive, pick up a paper bag of the farm’s near-perfect cider donuts. Better yet: Pick up two and eat one on the ride home.
Wickham’s Fruit Farm, 28700 Main Road, Cutchogue, (631) 734.6441, open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
One of the best things about the Ludlow Family’s pies is that they’re all prepared at the height of season and flash-frozen—you do the baking at home. Which means you can choose whichever pie you like, season notwithstanding, and serve it piping hot when your summer guests arrive. The Fairview Farm family makes their crusts with lard, producing a rich, almost savory crust that shatters under your fork. The list of pie options is long; the farm offers apple, apple-blueberry, apple-raspberry, apple-rhubarb, black and blue, blueberry, cherry, cherry-raspberry, and four berry, key lime, peach, peach-blueberry, peach-raspberry, peach-strawberry, pecan, chocolate pecan, pumpkin, rhubarb, strawberry-rhubarb, and strawberry-rhubarb-raspberry. In other words, there’s something for everyone here.
Fairview Farm at Mecox, 19 Horsemill Lane, Bridgehampton, (631) 537.6154, open Wednesday through Monday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
In Jamesport, you’ll find this traditional bakery, which actually made its name in strudel. But don’t discount their fine, thick-crusted pies (all of which shimmer with an ample dusting of white sugar). I’m partial to the fruit-laden and not-too-gummy blueberry, which practically bursts at the seams with blue-black fruit. But you can pick whichever fruit most moves you. These pies happen to freeze particularly well, so if your guests don’t finish what you’ve served (a difficult notion to swallow, pun intended), you can always spirit the rest away for a later summer afternoon.
Junda’s Pastry Crust & Crumbs, 1612 Main Road, Jamesport, (631) 722.4999, open Tuesday through Sunday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
I’m a fan of this lard-y, flaky crust, and just as big a fan of the balanced, tasty fillings. The Blue Duck has outposts on both the North and South Forks, so, no matter where you find yourself, there will always be a pie within arm’s reach. Go, always, for the sweet and sour cherry, which offers the puckeringly tart perfection of bright red sour cherries, balanced by the toothsome sweetness of dark, sweet cherries. If cherry isn’t your thing, there are numerous other choices. Call ahead for a list of whatever happens to be fresh that day.
Blue Duck Bakery Café, 30 NY-27-A, Southampton, (631) 204.1710, open daily 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.