I just love Thanksgiving. I love that we take a day to stop everything and focus on giving thanks, family and friends, and of course yummy pies. In my lifetime I recall only two times I haven’t been home for the holiday, and one close call when I almost didn’t make it. That was Thanksgiving 2009.
In preparation for Thanksgiving that year, my roommate and I decided to surprise our families by making Bakerella’s turkey cake pops. This was long before cake pops brightened up Starbucks’ pastry cases, and before they were even really a thing, so they’d surely be a hit. Two days before Thanksgiving, we set up a turkey pop workshop in our little Manhattan kitchen. 10 minutes in and my roommate declared she hated the craft. She hated waiting for the chocolate to harden, was bored holding each candy corn ‘feather’ in place, and was annoyed by all the tiny the pieces.
For me, I could have kept going with the pops making an entire flock of turkeys to fill up my carry-on bag home to Seattle. The project felt like such a relaxing escape from my bustling city and stressful job. This was the first time I realized how much I enjoy creating things that take detailed focus and patience.
The next day, my turkey pops and I started the journey to Newark airport. Two subway lines, an Amtrak train and AirTrain later, I arrived in the terminal but had trouble locating my flight on the departure screens. Taking another glance down at my printed confirmation, I noticed the microscopic font listing the airport as JFK not Newark. I had absentmindedly made it all the way to the wrong airport.
Lucky for me I was able to get on a later flight, but I was kicking myself for being so careless. My family would never let me live this down. And it was so unlike me. I’m the type of person who reads instructions all the way through, who researches everything and who can happily spend hours decorating turkey cake pops.
Now that I’m a bit older and wiser (living near only one airport), I have channeled my love of detailed desserts through pie making. Because as it turns out, pies are much better received at Thanksgiving than cake pops covered in candies. With some dedicated time and patience, I think anyone can make this pumpkin pie. Trust me, the pops are much harder.
When talking about pies, it seems like most people fear the pastry. They’re scared to touch it. Worried it will fall apart. Don’t know how to crimp the edges. That’s why this pumpkin pie is a great starting place; because I skip the crimping and use these Williams-Sonoma crust cutters to line the perimeter with leaves.
After some trial and error over the last couple years, here are my basic tips for working with pie dough. 1) Always keep it cold. Refrigerate or freeze it before rolling out and keep it as cold as you can at all times before it goes in the oven. 2) Flour your rolling pin and work surface often to prevent sticking. 3) Don’t be afraid to touch the dough. 4) If making your own, I have found that all-butter recipes hold up better.
This recipe from Martha Stewart is a great one. I’m planning to post a tutorial with my go-to dough recipe sometime in the future, so stay tuned.
Last year was the first time I experimented with using a fresh pumpkin for my Thanksgiving pie. I had so much fun with all of the steps and spread them out over the course of a couple days. The pumpkin can be roasted, pureed and refrigerated ahead of time, even frozen for up to a year.
After whisking all of the filling ingredients together, a frothy white foam might float on the top. I learned the hard way that this froth will quickly burn and ruin the look of the pie. Be sure to scoop it off of the top before baking and you should be good to go.
Now, while this recipe is a multi-step process, I promise it is not difficult. Time consuming? Yes. But isn’t that part of the Thanksgiving holiday to check out from the rest of the world and spend some extra time in the kitchen? Just don’t check out too much and make sure to double-check any travel arrangements you may have. Happy baking!
Download and print our sinclair & moore pumpkin pie recipe
Recipe design & calligraphy: La Happy
Photo credit: Matthew Land Studios