Of all the U.S. national holidays, Thanksgiving seems to be the most varied when it comes to how we celebrate. Some mark the holiday in a more conventional sense with parades, football, awkward family dinners and black friday sales. Others opt out and remove themselves from the typical narrative by rallying their chosen families together for Friendsgiving. No matter where you fall on this spectrum of traditional festivity, the common denominator that binds us is, without a doubt--the food!
I could droll on about what Thanksgiving means to me (hint: it ain’t the colonialism...I’m just here for the food and family) but I really don’t wanna talk about myself when there’s a much greater topic on the table: PIES!
Regardless of what the holiday is, if there is pie involved, I will BE THERE. Front and Center. Like, “Oh hey Aunt Cheryl, nice talkin’ to ya, but I have someone special I haven’t seen all year, sooo you’ll have to excuse me for a minute...or 30.” [makes mad dash to the dessert table]
It’s no surprise my enthusiasm for this specific day is a direct symptom of my insatiable desire for all-butter crusts filled with stuff. Can you blame me though? When else is it socially acceptable to eat leftover pie for breakfast? As an afternoon snack? In the middle of the night?
Thankfully, my passion for pie is equally matched by those wonderful Wake & Bake babes. I arrived at Caitlin’s house to find her and courtney marie excitedly talking shop around a waffle mountain. I warmed up a cheesy brussels sprouts au gratin dish I made for the brunchy occasion (feel free to leave out the pancetta, we did and it was perfect)- which would also be the perfect addition to a holiday feast- while we discussed the game plan. It was hard to concentrate at first because of the INCREDIBLE melodies coming out of the Shiny Sound Studio. The talented musician (and newest recipient of Spiderweb Salon’s Songwriting Scholarship!) Sarah Ruth was recording some amazing tunes with the Shiny Sound crew (Corbin, Conor, & Jacob) and her ethereal voice was just TOO good to tune out. We even got invited into the recording booth to hum on some background tracks! It was one of the most deliciously productive days ever.
With melodic ballads in the background, we began our race for the pies. Caitlin started working on the all-butter pie doughs while I tackled the filling for my attempt at Dominique Ansel’s Extra Silky Pumpkin Pie. In true Dominique Ansel fashion, his recipe puts an unexpected twist on an American classic. Using a gingerbread cookie crust for a punch of flavor and a fine sieve to give the filling a SUPER smooth mouthfeel, it was like crawling into silk sheets with freshly shaven legs. (Baker’s note: the sieve is probably optional, but you really need to blend with an immersion blender or small blender to ensure a smooth, creamy mixture free of lumps.)
Caitlin finished up the butter crusts for her mom’s buttermilk pie, courtney marie’s sour cream apple pie, and my bourbon pecan pie. She took her mom’s trusted recipe and elevated the flavor a few notches by adding a freshly ground chai spice blend using cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, clove, ginger, and peppercorns. This incredible pie was like a classic buttermilk, but with a spicy, seasonal kick. The flavors were as warm and inviting as Caitlin’s mama herself. <3
Pro tip: you can keep unbaked pie crusts in your fridge, well wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 3 days for later baking! courtney marie had the best intentions to finish her pies during W&B but was busily working alongside Spiderweb’s new co-director Nina Chantanapumma to update ALL THE SPIDEY THINGS (including our Patreon!) so she opted to take her crusts home to bake her crispy apple pie later in the week, where they will make a fabulous Friendsgiving appearance.
With my pumpkin pie complete, I started working on Jenn Segal’s brown butter bourbon pecan pie recipe. I love pecan pies because they’re always a crowd pleaser and they’re very easy to master. This recipe adds (our fave!) browned butter, golden syrup, and bourbon to the mixture for a mouthwatering, rich sweetness. Golden syrup or light treacle is a sugarcane byproduct from sugar refining. It’s popular in England and we don’t have an exact substitution in the States, so feel free to follow our suit and use mostly light Karo syrup and about ¼ cup of sorghum syrup (another, darker, sugar refining byproduct similar to molasses but a little less bitter). I want to go on record and tell you that THIS was the absolute best pecan pie recipe I’ve ever had. Hands down. If you’re gonna make a pecan pie this holiday season--make this one. I may or not have eaten a slice right out of the pan while typing this…
Whether you’re thankful for family, football, or the inevitable fall of fascism, we hope you’ll enjoy this cheerful season bellied up to one of these tasty recipes. We’re really thankful we have this platform to share them with you, and we’re endlessly grateful for the support our friends have shown our sweet little creative collective this year that has allowed us to accomplish so much. There’s nothing we love more than to gather good people together to appreciate creativity and thoughtful delights, whether they be food, poetry, or music. Cheers!
Spiderweb Salon loves you!