By Kate Rockwood
A bounty of sweet summer fruits tastes even better layered between flaky crust, and we showed you how making pie is, well, easy as pie, in the August issue of O Magazine. But if, like me, the heat of summer keeps you far from the oven, consider one of these scrumptious mail-order alternatives instead.
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For Pie Addicts: Grand Traverse Pie Company
If the thought of choosing between cherry or berry makes your palms sweat, consider the Pie of the Month Club. For one season, six months, or a year, members tuck into a signature pie from this 15-year-old Michigan bakery each month. Some of the most popular pies include Cherry Crumb (Mario Batali called it "a religious experience"), Michigan ABC (grown-in-state apples, blueberries and cherries), and Opera House blackberry.
Reason for Seconds: Grand Traverse can customize a message on your pie--like with icing letters on a birthday cake--using pastry-dough cut-out letters.
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For Cream-Pie Cravings: Achatz Pies
Famed Chicago chef Grant Achatz serves his restaurant staff slices of pie from this bakery, owned by his second cousin Dave and Dave's wife, Wendy. No wonder: In addition to the usual suspects of fruit and fall pies, Achatz bakers carefully craft 18 cream pies that are true stunners. I'm partial to Raspberries and Cream, made with vanilla pastry cream topped with slightly sweetened raspberries and dotted with fresh whipped cream.
Reason for Seconds: If I could, I'd chase Cannoli Pie (whipped pastry cream and cream cheese studded with almonds and chocolate chips) with Sweet Cream Cinnamon (cinnamon pastry cream topped with candied pecans).
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For When You Want a Tart Slice: My Sugar Pie
Pity the folks who have only sampled rhubarb as strawberry's costar--then send them a slice from My Sugar Pie. Owner Kelly Maucere, a former schoolteacher, coaxes big taste from a short list of ingredients, and serves the underappreciated tart stalk in a lattice pie, under a buttery Dutch crumb, or, yep, paired with sweet macerated strawberries.
Reason for Seconds: Hoosier Sugar--a rich, subtle sugar-cream--is Indiana's state pie; Kelly uses a killer recipe handed down from her mom.
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For Berry Fiends: Mom's Apple Pie Company
Don't be dissuaded by the name; Avis Renshaw and her husband, Steven Co, grow strawberries, raspberries and blackberries on their Virginia farm. And in the summer, those sun-kissed, hand-picked berries find their way between the
super-flaky pie crusts of this 30-year-old bakery.
Reason for Seconds: For a slice so tart your lips will pucker, try Mom's Sour Cherry, made with Montmorency cherries. Or soften the tartness with a gooey butter-and-brown-sugar crumb topping.
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For the Indecisive: Mr. Tod's Pie Factory
Four-inch mini-pies can help keep servings in check--or they can let you sample a variety of flavors. At this New Jersey pie shop, summer stunners like Blueberry Cobbler, Peach Cobbler and Cherry Cobbler are offered as made-from-scratch minis, along with year-round favorites like Lemon Chess Pie (a Southern custard, flecked with lemon peel) and Buttermilk Coconut.
Reason for Seconds: Mr. Tod launched his company in 2002 with a Sweet Potato Pie he mastered, thanks to his mom. The velvety, almost-spicy filling is too good to limit to fall.
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