The Freshest — and Cheapest — Pies to Bake for Each Month of 2016

The Freshest — and Cheapest — Pies to Bake for Each Month of 2016 Photo (cc) by USDAgov

As National Pie Day approaches – Jan. 23 – thoughts turn to what traditionally has been America’s favorite family pastry.

The concept of the pie dates back to at least Egyptian times. But in America, today’s concept of pies really began to take shape during the Revolutionary era, according to the American Pie Council.

Lately, the pie’s popularity — along with that of other desserts — has fallen on hard times. Just 12 percent of dinners eaten at home feature a dessert, down from 24 percent in 1986, according to research by NPD Group.

We’re on a mission to reverse that trend and that’s not just pie in the sky! Following are suggestions for 12 pies, one for each month of 2016. As a bonus, we’ve chosen pies based on ingredients that are in season, making these phenomenal pastries even cheaper to bake.

January — Banana cream

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It’s tough to find a fruit that’s in season during January. Fortunately, bananas are a reliable pick year-round. Start off the year on a sweet note with Chew Out Loud’s Best Banana Cream Pie recipe, from foodie blogger Amy Dong. With an all-butter pie crust, velvety custard and loads of fresh bananas, this delicious dessert practically begs to be baked.

February — Chocolate

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It’s all about Valentine’s Day this month, and, as you’ve likely heard, the way to the heart is through the stomach. Why settle for a generic box of chocolates when this decadent Chocolate Buzz pie is sure to win the affection of that special someone?

We’re really pulling out the big guns here, folks. This palate-pleasing pie was the amateur “best in show” winner at the 2015 American Pie Council National Pie Championships.

March — Lemon meringue

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March is a great month for tart and tangy lemons. And when life gives you lemons, you know what to do: Make a classic lemon meringue pie, of course. (Lemonade is highly overrated.) This sweet pick from Spiced is sure to satisfy your citrus craving. The blog even includes tips for whipping up the perfect meringue — not always an easy feat.

April — Pineapple

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Are you aware that April marks the peak of pineapple season? This contest-winning Glazed Pineapple Pie recipe featured on Taste of Home is a wonderful way to pay homage to the tasty tropical fruit. The sweet treat yields six to eight servings, making it a perfect pick for casual get-togethers.

May — Strawberry rhubarb

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Both strawberries and rhubarb are in season in May. It’s like the universe is telling you to bake a strawberry rhubarb pie! This one from Epicurious promises to be a “pretty pie, with the perfect combination of strawberries, rhubarb and cinnamon, and a delicate, flaky crust.” The cosmos is counting on you, so what are you waiting for?

June — Cherry

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Cherry pie is the unofficial mascot of June — the perfect dessert for picnics and barbecues. And this Sour Cherry Pie is so scrumptious, it’s risen to the ranks of “BA’s Best” — a collection of recipes dubbed “essential” by Bon Appétit. The secret? “Adding almond flour to the pastry dough makes for a super-tender, toasty-looking crust.” On your marks, get set, bake!

July — Peach

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Peach pie in July? Bring it on! After all, nothing says summer like fresh, juicy peaches, which are most flavorful (not to mention cheapest) during this time period. Check out Mama Thornton’s Peach Pie, a recipe loved by pastry chef Anne Thornton. With an “easy” difficulty level, it’s a great choice for novice bakers and experts who appreciate sweet, classic flavors.

August — Blueberry

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Blueberry season is brief, so you need to bake while the oven’s hot. This homemade blueberry pie recipe from Inspired Taste has “a touch of spice from allspice and cinnamon and zing from lemon zest. Not so much that they take away from the blueberries, but just enough to lift their flavor.” An added bonus? The site features video tutorials for both the recipe and a lattice pie crust to top it off.

September — Apple

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How popular is apple pie during September? A BuzzFeed survey of Gourmet and Bon Appétit magazines found that it made up 62 percent of pie recipes featured in those publications between 1990-2012. Check out this “Nuts About Apple Pie” recipe, which took top overall amateur honors among apple pies at the 2015 American Pie Council National Pie Championships. We think you’ll agree that the apple-caramel creation (yes—caramel) is appropriately named.

October — Pumpkin

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October means colorful leaves, crisp breezes, football season and pumpkin-flavored everything, including — you guessed it — pie. This elegant “The Great Pumpkin Pie” recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction is “rich, smooth, thick, and tastes incredible on my homemade pie crust and served with whipped cream.” Don’t be surprised if you fall in love with this time-honored recipe.

November — Pecan

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Many people continue their pumpkin obsession well into November, and we totally get it. But it’s time for pecan pie to receive its due at Thanksgiving, too. This insanely satisfying recipe from the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, offers “sweet, custardy, sugary — almost caramely — goodness” that’s sure to satisfy everyone at your holiday table.

December — Sweet potato

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Sweet potatoes peak during the fall months, and can be especially cheap around the holidays. Wow guests with this classic sweet potato pie from allrecipes.com. Butter, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg combine to end your meal on a sweet, satisfying note. The baker who submitted the recipe swears that “everyone who tastes it says it is the best they have ever had.” If that’s not a ringing endorsement, we don’t know what is.

Do have your own favorite pies that you bake in specific months? Let us know in our Forums. It’s a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.

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