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Baking the Perfect Thanksgiving Pie: Tips, Tricks, and Traditions

March 25, 2024 Sweet Tea and Tacos
Baking the Perfect Thanksgiving Pie: Tips, Tricks, and Traditions
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Baking the Perfect Thanksgiving Pie: Tips, Tricks, and Traditions
Mar 25, 2024
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Get ready to become the dessert hero of your next Thanksgiving gathering! Dave and I have wrapped up our series with a decadent discussion on the holiday's sweetest finales. From the classic pumpkin pie and its sweet potato counterpart, to the debate over regional pie allegiances, we've got all the tips and tales to spice up your festive spread. And let's not forget the whipped cream—none of that store-bought stuff—we're talking fresh, homemade peaks of perfection here. Plus, we venture into the delightful realms of pecan, apple, and even the traditional, yet often overlooked, mincemeat pie. We're not just sharing recipes; we're sharing the spirit of experimentation and the joy of discovering your own signature Thanksgiving dessert.

As we bid farewell to fall flavors, you're invited to bake along with us and reminisce about your own culinary capers. Join us as we sift through the secrets of flaky crusts and fillings that sing, from dodging corn syrup to embracing real vanilla. We might have had some baking blunders along the way, but they paved the path to pie perfection. We dive into the versatility of pie crusts, encourage elevating classics with simple twists, and champion the unparalleled delight of a pie fresh from your oven. We can't wait to hear about your Thanksgiving traditions, so be sure to share your stories with us on Sweet Tea and Tacos, and let's keep the gratitude (and the butter) flowing.

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Get ready to become the dessert hero of your next Thanksgiving gathering! Dave and I have wrapped up our series with a decadent discussion on the holiday's sweetest finales. From the classic pumpkin pie and its sweet potato counterpart, to the debate over regional pie allegiances, we've got all the tips and tales to spice up your festive spread. And let's not forget the whipped cream—none of that store-bought stuff—we're talking fresh, homemade peaks of perfection here. Plus, we venture into the delightful realms of pecan, apple, and even the traditional, yet often overlooked, mincemeat pie. We're not just sharing recipes; we're sharing the spirit of experimentation and the joy of discovering your own signature Thanksgiving dessert.

As we bid farewell to fall flavors, you're invited to bake along with us and reminisce about your own culinary capers. Join us as we sift through the secrets of flaky crusts and fillings that sing, from dodging corn syrup to embracing real vanilla. We might have had some baking blunders along the way, but they paved the path to pie perfection. We dive into the versatility of pie crusts, encourage elevating classics with simple twists, and champion the unparalleled delight of a pie fresh from your oven. We can't wait to hear about your Thanksgiving traditions, so be sure to share your stories with us on Sweet Tea and Tacos, and let's keep the gratitude (and the butter) flowing.

Support the Show.

Dave:

and welcome to sweet tea and tacos. I'm dave and I'm jen and to finish out thanksgiving, you've got to have dessert that's right so traditional thanksgiving dessert, I think most people think of pumpkin pie. Pumpkin pie, I think that's probably the most iconic yeah, I would think so.

Jen:

Now, sweet potato pumpkin, they're awfully similar they are so again, like we've talked about, with some other things on the menu, maybe a little bit more north and south thing, which probably sweet potato pie down here, right of course pumpkin in the north but pumpkin's so prevalent, I mean yeah, you know they can pumpkin and that's all we do is.

Dave:

Can pumpkin, yeah, but of course you get that old joke where pumpkin just tastes like the spices you put in it. Um, so yeah, but that's a good kind of a custardy pie texture um.

Jen:

It can be served warm or cold yeah, I prefer it cold.

Dave:

Yeah, yeah, with like whipped cream on top yeah, and folks, here's a public service announcement use real whipped cream, please yeah okay, if you have a mixer of any sort.

Jen:

Right Hand mixer or a stand mixer.

Dave:

You can make whipped cream in three minutes.

Jen:

Yeah, it's really easy. Heavy whipping cream and sugar and vanilla Preferably, powdered sugar Preferably.

Dave:

You can make whipped cream and it is a thousand times better, you add a touch of vanilla even. Yeah, for all that is good, don't use, yeah, whipped topping please. Now, if you want to get fancy and there's actually a lot of some of the canned ones with the little spray, like the whipped cheese, spray cheese or whatever you know some of those actually don't have junk in them yeah, or or maybe, maybe a little bit better.

Jen:

And there is one kind of whipped topping that I've seen. That's not too junky, it's got. It's maybe made with some coconut oil or something but but for the most part.

Dave:

For the most part.

Jen:

Just do it from scratch.

Dave:

It's not hard, not at all.

Jen:

Three minutes in a mixer, you're good, make sure your half and half of your heavy cream is really cold.

Dave:

Stick it in a bowl, whip it and you're good.

Jen:

Yep.

Dave:

Okay, that was my public service announcement for today. Okay, but pumpkin pie or sweet potato pie really needs it. It's kind of a you kind of have to have it. Yeah, now other kind of pies that are traditional down here pecan.

Jen:

Yeah, pecan. Ooh yeah, and that can go either way with the, the whip, the topping, you know. Yeah, I mean, we ate it all the time at the holidays and we never put anything on it, but that was just our family right um. I guess you could even have some ice cream with it yeah um apple pie apple pie is very traditional I. I think that's pretty standard throughout the entirety of the United States.

Dave:

Yeah, I remember having a lot of that and that's to me it's really a pie holiday.

Jen:

It is a pie holiday. I would have to say.

Dave:

I don't really see a Thanksgiving cake no not really.

Jen:

Not really, no, Now maybe I could see something like a crumble, like yeah, I have a recipe for a um an apple cranberry yes, that's kind of baked crumble and has this topping with like oatmeal and brown sugar and some nuts yeah, but the difference between a crumble and a cobbler are very yeah, I tend to think of a cobbler as more of a pastry crust. Okay, you know.

Dave:

Gotcha, where the crumble is just a crumbled topping on the top Okay. Gotcha, but yeah, it's really pies.

Jen:

Yeah, I agree.

Dave:

Now one of the things that we have sometimes at Thanksgiving mostly Christmas is the mincemeat.

Jen:

Yeah, and people kind of probably scoff at that kind of like. They would put it in the category of maybe like fruitcake or something Right, which I like fruitcake too yeah, it's really good it is really good.

Dave:

It's really sweet, but we don't make it from scratch, we just buy the jar.

Jen:

And there's to me some better jarred brands than others. Yes, there's one that may even be from England. Right, it's really really good, Because that's a big thing over there.

Dave:

Yeah, and your dad loves it, and that's the first time I ever had it. I really like it.

Jen:

Yeah, I mean, we grew up eating a lot of that.

Dave:

But we also do that for Christmas, but Thanksgiving we tend to be pumpkin pie heavy.

Jen:

And what's interesting is, for whatever reason, my family never did pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. I mean, I think the first time I ate it was maybe like with your family and I loved it I fell in love with it. I loved the consistency and everything that, and sweet potato pie, you know. And then, um, shortly after we got married, um, I started making it.

Dave:

I found a recipe and you know we make it from scratch and it's kind of been our thing, yeah and I mean, you know, obviously you can just use the jarred spices, but you know any type of fresher spice or a whole spice you use, it's going to change the flavor, and you even had a recipe one time it has ginger in it oh yeah yeah, it was really good, yeah, like the just powdered ginger.

Jen:

Yeah, I would say, don't just put pumpkin pie spice like do the individual spices? Do the allspice or the nutmeg or the cinnamon or whatever it calls for?

Dave:

Yeah, and if you like, I said absolutely use the individual ones and then even if you want to take a step further, you know, try to find and you usually can find that stuff more in the holidays than you can a regular time of year. Even if no matter where, like especially where we live, there's certainly no gourmet Mecca or huge city.

Jen:

Right.

Dave:

That becomes a little more accessible during those times. Yes, and real vanilla beans, excuse me, and I read somewhere that this one person was asserting where you really can't tell the difference, or there's a study that said the artificial was liked just as much, oh gosh. But I disagree.

Jen:

To me it's a much more subtle than a vanilla flavor um but the other tastes to me artificial and leaves sort of this nasty aftertaste vanilla extracts are great.

Dave:

But again, if you and if you can find it you know, usually you can during these time of years vanilla beans, just true vanilla beans yeah it adds a different vanilla flavor it's much more subtle and it's more complex, right but, along the lines of your psa earlier, please don't buy imitation vanilla extract.

Jen:

I know there's a difference in cost, especially these days where everything has gotten so expensive, but just buy a small bottle of the real stuff. It doesn't have to be an ultra gourmet brand, but you're going to be so grateful, right?

Dave:

And you can actually make some of those things yourselves.

Jen:

If you want to get real fancy.

Dave:

Well, you know, here's what we would do when I was at the restaurant. We would use vanilla beans all the time. Well, scrape your vanilla beans out, which you can Google how to do that, sure, but don't throw the pot away. Stick it in a jar with sugar and let that sit.

Jen:

Oh yeah.

Dave:

And it's going to become a vanilla sugar. Yeah, so that will help if you're going to add sugar to things. Now you have this vanilla sugar ready to go.

Jen:

Yeah.

Dave:

Now you just kind of amp up the vanilla flavor. Yeah, you just kind of amp up the vanilla flavor yeah. But obviously that takes a while. You're not going to do that overnight. Sure sure sure, but don't throw those away.

Jen:

Yeah, but same thing you can use. You can make an extract out of the pods you know, if you want to get and I'm sure there's plenty of, like you say, google it or watch a YouTube video there's all kinds of access to information like that these days that we didn't have, you know, 20 years ago. Yeah, absolutely.

Dave:

So the pie crust has always been kind of your trying to perfect that pie crust yeah. You found some recipes you like better than others.

Jen:

It makes a big difference with using butter. It makes a big difference with using butter. I always tended to gravitate towards butter, because I was a little bit leery of shortening, because shortenings had gotten into the vein of being partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated however you want to pronounce it which lended itself to a shelf life, a more stable shelf life, but they're not good for you, right? You know? And now you can find some good shortenings that aren't made that way. They're more like in, they're vegan, basically right, it's a vegetarian, vegan shortening.

Dave:

Yeah, we've come across. Yeah, and there's more, and you know, I kind of use the barometer.

Jen:

If we can find it where we live, it tends to be pretty accessible yeah but yeah, that's kind of changed what you've been able to do, right because the butter sometimes you know you couldn't keep it cold enough and it would melt a little bit when it first went into the oven and then you wouldn't get all the layers, and so putting a little bit of that good quality shortening in uh helped, and you still want the butter for the taste. Right, but um, that's been a little bit of a game changer for my baking as far as the pie crusts, and again we'll go back to the preparation.

Dave:

Being prepared and spacing things out gives you time to not be in a hurry, and then you don't do things like forget to put the sugar in a pie. Right, so we were eating a pie one time. I'm going to tell a story again. I told one of myself.

Jen:

It was last year, wasn't?

Dave:

it. It was last year and you brought the pie out, because we always we end up a lot of times being in a hurry in the pie oh, no, yeah, and no yeah. And we, you know, this is interesting and and our daughter and I were kind of looking at each other like and I had not tried any at that point and I was like how was it?

Jen:

it was not getting.

Dave:

It's good, very good response you know you don't get that immediate.

Jen:

Wow, you didn't even you suspect because this is like kind of my pride and joy. My pumpkin pie yeah, I had forgotten to put the sugar. Yeah, I was so outdone with myself.

Dave:

Or we'll get in a hurry and then it, like you know, it's coming. It's baking while you're eating dinner you know, and then everybody's ready for dessert, and it says hot pie, and it's just not set yet so it's got a cool it does, it does um pecan pies. We've never. We've made one or two, not a whole lot yeah there's a place in where we live that makes this incredible pecan pie. Yeah, it's kind of all downhill from there. Once you've had it, you're ruined on pecan pie.

Jen:

It's true.

Dave:

But yeah, you know, I've never really had luck with a pecan. We did make one one time recently.

Jen:

Yeah, a couple years ago.

Dave:

I think it was actually turned out pretty good. It did turn out pretty good.

Jen:

Yeah, and you know, there's those things that are kind of like quote unquote derby pie or whatever. They're kind of like a pecan pie, but they have the chocolate chips and stuff, chocolate chips in there.

Dave:

I think it's so sweet. But you know, to me the struggle with the pecan pie is not just having this, it's just the sugar, just a bunch of sugar.

Jen:

Yeah.

Dave:

And making them so thick, and all this.

Jen:

Right, because you typically use that kind of corn syrup stuff. Yeah, I don't like that. It comes in a bottle, right?

Dave:

And this one didn't have corn syrup. I don't remember what the? Process was, and that's what I liked. That's why I wanted to try it. I found this recipe that had no corn syrup in there and it was good it was very different, but it was good and it didn't have the corn syrup and it wasn't too thick. I don't remember what all I had in there, yeah, yeah. And I've never, oh, we've made one or two apple pies.

Jen:

Yeah, we have. But my dad always makes an apple pie, yeah, yeah, he makes a good one. And sometimes he'll put raisins in it. Raisins, that's a nice touch.

Dave:

Yeah, it is good.

Jen:

Yeah.

Dave:

So, but anyway, yeah, thanksgiving, yeah Dessert.

Jen:

Use real vanilla and make your own whipped cream and on the pie crust, I know you can buy your own and sometimes you have to there are some better brands out there of like a pie crust where it's not already in the pan. You can get those kind of in the frozen section. These are like just rolled up, kind of rolled the frozen section Right. These are like Just rolled up.

Jen:

Kind of rolled up in something like a wax paper or whatever, and you just defrost it a little bit and roll it out and then you can do all your kind of fancy crimping and whatnot, and those are actually not a bad option.

Dave:

They're not bad if you need to save some time, I think we used one one time for like a mincemeat pie.

Jen:

Yeah.

Dave:

And what's nice about that is you get to freeform it so you can kind of make it look like homemade, right, but there are even the ones in the pans. There's going to be better options of what's in it.

Jen:

Yes, and you know our thing. We talk a lot about the junky stuff. Just avoid the junky, the artificial and the imitation and all that.

Dave:

But yeah, so that's. But you know the benefit of those rolled ones they're going to look a little more homemade. But then you have the option to say if you wanted to cut out little decorations. That type of pre-made crust gives you the option.

Jen:

Right, you probably could have a little extra dough left over and you can, you know, cut some leaves or whatever. I mean, we have even these little stampy things, right, that are leaves that cut. Nice, you know, it's just a nice little accent, mm-hmm yeah.

Dave:

So you know, and pie pans, you know you got all kinds of decorative ones. The only downside we have this one that's really fluted and really cool looking, but getting a pie out of there.

Jen:

Yeah, it's really difficult, it's hard. So sometimes just the basic pie pan you know, is good, and isn't there that thing about a dark pan cooks the crust more quickly or something like that.

Dave:

Yeah, I don't know which one that is yeah, we should know, you know what that's a podcast episode? It might be. Pies are coming because it's such a big deal with us.

Jen:

We like pie, we love pie, you love pie. And it's hard to get good pie commercially. I mean like oh yeah. You know to. Just there are not a lot of places in our area where you could walk in, say at a diner or somewhere.

Dave:

No, restaurants, they had a diner or something no restaurants and say I want a piece of pie and coffee they're just not there, pecan pie, but that's about it.

Jen:

Yeah, maybe a key lime pie, yeah you know, or lemon ice box in the summertime but that's about it.

Dave:

Otherwise it's cheesecake factories around here. You know, it's just cheesecake, cheesecake.

Jen:

That's what a lot of restaurants and it's I understand why yeah, or you get cakes or something like a brownie with a brownie or tort, you know, but it's hard to get.

Dave:

Yeah, a apple pie somewhere, yeah, or you know you know, I don't know what it is.

Jen:

I mean pies. I will say they're not the easiest thing to make there's a lot of variables that can go wrong, but then also they may be seen as somewhat of a kind of a more of like a common food Right. You know, like if there was a gourmet restaurant they might think, well, we have to do some kind of fancy, fancy tort, or you know something.

Dave:

Which I'm going to be wrong. It's great.

Jen:

I don't think you can really do better than pie.

Dave:

No, and that's just kind of where we live. You might have more access for you. I know there's some places in Louisiana. There's several really famous pie places over there and you get all kinds you get the coconut pies and there's buttermilk pies.

Jen:

I mean a chocolate pie, Chocolate pie.

Dave:

You know, there's a restaurant that was famous here for their chocolate pie.

Jen:

Or chocolate chess.

Dave:

Chocolate chess yeah, all those are really good, but they're hard to find, yeah, so making those is an art form. But yeah, for Thanksgiving the pumpkin pie is probably the number one Pecan pie Sweet potato Sweet potato pie yeah.

Jen:

So give it a try yeah.

Dave:

All right. So, like I said, I think if you take a couple takeaways is cook it soon enough so that it can cool off or at least come to room town.

Jen:

Right, get your pie dough prepared ahead.

Dave:

Get your pie dough prepared ahead Let it rest in the fridge. That's another you could do that a day ahead of time if you're making it from scratch, mm-hmm. Use real vanilla Use vanilla and make homemade whipped cream. Yep, yeah. And if you want super fancy on the whipped cream, you can get a cream charger.

Jen:

Yep.

Dave:

They are not cheap, but you just pour your cream in there and it uses CO2. But, if you just have a hand mixer and a bowl, you can make it in three minutes. Okay, so that's the end of that. I think we beat that horse, all right. So yeah, desserts for Thanksgiving. I think we wrapped up Thanksgiving.

Jen:

Yeah, yeah, we covered a lot of ground, yeah, so let us know, you know.

Dave:

Do you have any other desserts you do for Thanksgiving? That we have it covered.

Jen:

Yeah.

Dave:

What are some other things?

Jen:

Yeah, what are your dessert traditions?

Dave:

Yeah, so hit us up on Facebook, Instagram, send us an email, that kind of thing, and don't forget to subscribe and share with your friends For Sweet Tea and Tacos. I'm Dave.

Jen:

And I'm Jen, your friends for Sweet Tea and Tacos. I'm Dave and I'm Jen. Happy Thanksgiving.

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