In favour of Pies...
The diameter of my enjoyment of pies is incalculable. It goes on forever and even I can not find its last digit. However, I assure you: my logic on this matter is not circular.
Pies have stability that crumbles lack. The structural integrity of the whole operation is greatly improved and more importantly, I don't have to worry quite so much about getting it all over me.
Pies also provide artistic opportunities that crumbles simply don't. You can't put an image of two ravens looking at the moon on top of a crumble but it looks great on a pie.
The cutting of a pie is deeply meaningful. Once the circle is broken, order has been demolished and it is time for the inevitable end of all which has been and the creation of something new. At least, that's my interpretation.
On that happy thought, time to start baking!
In favour of Crumbles
I'd say crumble is not only superior in my eyes to pies, and tarts, but the best imaginable dessert out there. A decent crumble, apple or pear or rhubarb or whatever (an easy feat to achieve... crumble is far easier to make well than pies or silly tarts) easily tops the pudding list in my book. Maybe part of its beauty can be found in its simplicity. Served with a little custard, or cream, or even ice cream... Mmmm delicious. My housemates will attest that I am an appalling baker. However, when it comes to crumble, it's something I can really deliver, high quality, every time. Maybe my fondness for the pud comes from a sense of pride because its literally the only good thing I can bake properly... but I reckon it's more just because it's really very tasty.
In favour of Tarts
So, to recap, crumbles - either sickly sweet or sour as sin, either way requiring fruits only available in the summer, where the least appetising thing possible is the equivalent to a dry dusty road of crust.
Pies - it's just too much. 1 inch of sugar or chocolate, or most horrifying of all, pumpkin or sweet potato.
Tarts are the only way. I'm going to rattle off some heavy hitters and if your mouth isn't salivating by the end I will bonk you with Pavlov's bell. Tarte tatin - classic, sweet but still fruity, and nice and thin so you can taste the caramelized apple, or whatever fruit you decide. Portuguese custard is more indulgent, but again its small size means you can appreciate both the puff pastry and creme patisserie, with neither flavour overpowering the other. Finally, an English classic, and certainly the richest of them all, the Bakewell tart. With its small size you can get away with sweet jam and sweet icing, and still get the buttery base. Tarts are light and refined - why have anything else?
- Joe Millward