Six favorite summertime pies from L.A. bakeries
For many Americans, Thanksgiving and the winter holidays are high pie season, when pecan, sweet potato, pumpkin and apple showpieces rule the dessert table. I proselytize for pie in summertime, when juicy berries and stone fruits mingle with buttery crust, protracting their always-too-fleeting moment of peak ripeness. Icebox pie is also made for the warmest months.
These are six favorites around Los Angeles. A final tip: Summer pie makes a superb breakfast.
Stoner Party at Fat & Flour
Nicole Rucker had already built a reputation as the brightest star in the L.A. pie universe, but her talent is on exceptional display these days. She closed her short-lived Fairfax restaurant Fiona last summer and regrouped this year with a stand in Grand Central Market, where she makes every pie herself. (While building out a more permanent space, she’s temporarily occupying the former Kismet Falafel counter.) The brilliance of Rucker’s ever-changing lineup stems in part from her commitment to gathering fruit from the region’s finest orchards. Her description for a stone fruit medley reads: “Masumoto Farms peaches and apricots, Regier Farms white nectarines, a handful of cherries I found hiding in the freezer.” It is both temptation and manifesto. Oatmeal streusel covers the fruit; the edges have been crimped with the wavy precision of a cardiogram heart line. If you love pie, you need to order this masterpiece.
317 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, (323) 380-8583, fatandflour.square.site
Blueberry crumble at Goldburger
For the last two years, Allen Yelent had been creating pop-up sensations with his righteous smash burger: double patty, lacy edges, melting American cheese, griddled onions, mustard aioli. He’s currently in residency in Highland Park, in the former location of Romanian restaurant Parsnip, until November. Yes, you want a smash burger — or an equally excellent patty melt — but the homemade pie is also essential. Chocolate and lemon round out the options, but blueberry is the standout. Buttery, appealingly sandy streusel offsets the dense, deep purple filling.
5623 York Blvd., Los Angeles, goldburgerla.com
Strawberry pretzel at Know Reality Pie
In the tiny Eagle Rock shop she runs with Kelly Deco, baker Tracy Ann DeVore crafts a daunting number of flavors, including her signature triple berry Cabernet and combinations like caramel-apple-pecan and cherry-rhubarb. They sell pies by the slice in the store; whole pies are available via online preorders. This summer, DeVore is updating strawberry pretzel pie, a midcentury Southern chestnut, in winning proportions: thick, pebbly, salted crust; a cloud bank of whipped cream; and Harry’s Berries strawberries lightly gelled so the effect is refreshing rather than gloppy. Look for single-size chicken pot pies for an all-pie takeout meal.
5106 Townsend Ave., Los Angeles, (916) 799-5772, knowrealitypie.com
Raspberry peach from Jimenez Family Farm
Gustavo and Marcie Jimenez are familiar presences at farmers markets across the city (including Santa Monica, Atwater Village and Mar Vista), selling meats and produce farmed on their 25 acres in the Santa Ynez Valley. A separate table at their stands stacked with Marcie’s pies tends to steal focus. There are often eight or more variations of fruit pies from which to choose; I seek out seasonal specials, waiting for the months when the simple, classic duo of peach and raspberry appears. If it isn’t available, try blackberry. These pies, with their sheer, flaky crusts, are at their best reheated in the oven.
Multiple L.A.-area farmers markets,jimenezfamilyfarm.com/pies/pies.htm
Peach at Valerie Confections
Valerie Gordon’s beautifully decorated cakes and elegant chocolate truffles had been on my radar, but it wasn’t until I saw an Instagram post from her Echo Park shop a month ago that I realized she was baking seasonal pies: strawberry rhubarb with lattice crust, sour cherry hand pies, mini caramel-apple gems. And wow, can she bake a textbook peach pie: softly sweet, vanilla-scented fruit cradled between a double crust that stays sturdy until it melts on the palate. I had a big slice on a recent Sunday evening after fried chicken takeout from East Hollywood’s Found Oyster, and … yeah. Greatness.
1665 Echo Park Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 250-9365, valerieconfections.com
Lemon icebox at Southern Girl Desserts
Catarah Coleman and Shoneji Robison are Florida natives; they founded their business in 2007, merging their recipes for cakes, cookies, cobblers and other desserts that reminded them of home. The image that their lemon icebox conjures is so specific: It’s the welcome blast of cold the moment you open the refrigerator on a sweltering day. The crumbly goodness of the graham cracker crust balances the satiny, tart-sweet filling. Like letting ice cream soften, I like for the pie to sit a few minutes at room temperature so the texture turns custardy and the flavors pop.
3650 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 293-2253, southerngirldesserts.com
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