Baking Season Starts with a Pie

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By The Paula Deen Test Kitchen

The holidays bring out the baker in all of us. As the days grow shorter, we appreciate signs of warmth and welcome, like spiced pies and buttery crust smells taking over the house. Starting with Thanksgiving pie baking, we are up to our elbows in flour and sugar, making delicious treats for husbands and wives, children, and grandchildren.

No matter how many people are in your family, Thanksgiving dinner is almost always capped off with one or more from the all-American trinity of pies –pumpkin, pecan, and apple. Most of us just can’t help fixing one of each; not matter how full we are after the big meal, there is always room for pie! 

Pumpkin is the traditional pie of the season, but some of us like to tweak it a little each year.  The trick is not to make the creamy, comforting pie so unusual that it doesn’t forsake tradition.  So while we may give you innovative flavors – or a pinch more ginger than you are used to – these pies lose none of the essential goodness of the velvety pie we come to crave each year. Check out our Pumpkin Rum Pie, Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie, and you’ll see how yummy we can make it!

Most of us grew up with the pecan pie on the Karo corn syrup label; several decades ago, there wasn’t much else you did with pecan pie except argue about using the white or the dark syrup in the recipe. These days you can find Bourbon Pecan PieChocolate Pecan Pie, Mystery Pecan Pie and other recipes that add rum, coffee, toffee, and more sweet flavors.

Apples pies are our idea of serving fruit for dinner. We love ‘em double-crusted, lattice-topped, streusel loaded, spiced with cinnamon and ginger, and mile-high. Try Paula’s Crunch Top Apple Pie and Savannah High Apple Pie to see how she likes to tempt you with fruit.

It’s just not a holiday pie without a homemade pie crust, and a good Southern baker knows how to make her own. We may use refrigerated pie crusts the rest of the year, but not for Thanksgiving pies. The secret to making perfect pie crust is using butter, getting it very cold before you mix it into the flour, and not pulverizing the butter pieces when you do. Those little lumps of cold butter – no larger than the size of small peas—create steam pockets when they melt, leaving behind flaky, buttery expanses in the baked pie crust.  Although lard and shortening will make tender, flaky crusts, there is nothing like the real taste of buttery pie crust.

Then there’s always those extra pastry scraps we like to turn into cinnamon “cookies” for the children. We roll them out, cut them into shapes with their favorite cutters, and sprinkle the dough with cinnamon sugar before baking them into crispy treats. 

We’ve got a corner of the test kitchen dedicated to storing rolling pins, flour and sugar canisters, cookie cutters, and other tools of the holiday baking trade; it is a reminder that baking season is here and we are all set to get started with pies!

Read More From Holidays and Entertaining.

Read More From Thanksgiving.

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Leave a Comment

Reader Comments:

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Paula: I just want to comment on your recent run in the media. Not knowing you personally I can only comment on what I see on TV and interviews. I believe you have a good heart. Maybe some of your comments and jokes are not meant to hurt anyone, but there are the sensitive types that take things very personally, not in good fun. I can not comment on yor brother, but as far as I am concerned, only those that can throw the first stone can judge you and I believe there is only one person that could possible do that, our Lord Jesus Christ. I will miss you on the Food Network, but I do hope you are picked up by another network so that I can continue to enjoy your good cooking and good hearted nature. In the mean time I will continue to enjoy your magazine and e-mails. Sincerely, Laurie Barton

By Laurie Barton on July 21, 2013

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Dear Paula, How are you? Im samantha im a person who loves your food well other people do to of course well i love it the most ecspeccially your pies. Well if you txt back i will be happy, Well i have to go my mom wants me to sotp and go do chores. SOOOOOOOOOOOO bye:)

By Samantha on October 05, 2011

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By Samantha on October 05, 2011

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By samantha on October 05, 2011

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i love your recipies and have you met jenny creige i love her food 2!

By Anonymous on October 05, 2011

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just love your show i made alot from it i just love your pies

By susan on July 22, 2011

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Hi paula!!! I watch your show ever day and you have some delicious dishes. I particularly liked the 'Potato and chicken' dish. I am going to try this recipe on my family. Jean Johnson. Calumet Calumet City Ill.

By Anonymous on May 13, 2011

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Hi Paula. how r u? l love your recipes and i watched any time your show. l am big fan of your show. thanks and Blesssssssssssssss.

By Afsha on December 22, 2010

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My Husband has actually made this pie 3 times and it comes out perfect every single time! I tried it and I just couldn't layer the apples the right way and well, let's just say, it wasn't pretty. LOL Thank you Paula Kimmi

By kimmi white on December 15, 2010

Hi Paula,
    I am a Big Fan of your Show. I have tried alot of your recipies and some of you Son’s have done on your Show ( Wayne’s Beef Mac ), and it came out Great. Now it is Thanksgiving time and I am Stuck on a Side dish. I am tried of the same thing every year. Can you send me some Idea’s please. Thanks for any help you can give. And have a Happy Holiday’s…. Judy , Bronx, NY

By JudyHolmes on November 08, 2010

Paula,

I lost my recipe from 1950;s.  Pecan Pie made with Pet Milk.  It is the best.  The filling is glassy with a soft custard like texture and is high not thin.  Soooo delicious.  Could you help?  I also use maple syrup instead of the usual syrup.

Genevieve

By genevieve wiech on October 27, 2010

Hi Paula,
I have watched your show for a long time and just last week purchased my new home computer as a retirement gift. I am really enjoying this site and will refer to it a lot in the future.
Also, I lost a receipe named, Pumpkin Custard Pie. It is a pie that is very light and very pumpkin. Maybe you have heard of something like this. I would gladly try any suggestion you give me.
When I am having a down day you always cheer me and make me laugh. Thank you for sharing yourself with al of us.
Judy Barnhill

By Judy Barnhill on October 21, 2010

Hi Paula, love your recipes….I plan on making the peach cobbler this week-end….sounds great….but can you use BISQUICK instead of the flour ?

By Mona on August 10, 2010

Paula I love reading everything you write, especially about the south and yes I bake but not like I do in the fall and winter, love the baking and family time during the holidays but it is just to hot in the summer time to do much baking but I enjoy all the pie recipes, got to love them pies. Well chocolate is my favorite anything, like choc. pie, choc.pecan pie, I don’t care much for pumpkin pie but you can give me a sweet potatoe pie anyday. I think I may give the pumpkin rum pie a try tho, sounds delicious. I saw you when you came to Shreveport and I enjoyed it so much. I hope to get to see you again. May the Lord bless in all that you do!

By Connie on August 02, 2010

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love the table paula would look good on my new patio. so glad you are back. I hope to get there to see you in person one day.i will start tomorrow to find the patern form the tablecloth.
Gladys Rainesl in Savannah Style: A Spring Table for Two on April 13, 2014 at 7:45 pm

I just want to say this I don't even know if is the right page all I ever wanted to say to Paula Deen welcome back I have missed you. You are my favorite home down girls keep your head up and hang on and feel the love. P.S. from a woman of color.
in Chicken Salad: A Southern Staple on April 13, 2014 at 2:55 pm

I just love love love the table and flowers and am so glad that I can still access all of Paula's recipes, her family life, Bobby's lighter versions and Brandon's beautiful work. Truly thankful to see such beautiful tablescapes. You guys are my heros.
Patricia in Savannah Style: A Spring Table for Two on April 13, 2014 at 9:14 am