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4 fabulous Thanksgiving pies made easy

Thanksgiving dessert is all about pie, and according to some, pie is all about the crust. Noelle Carter’s pie crust primer walks you through the process, including detailed fat and flour considerations, how-tos on mixing and rolling the dough and tips from pastry experts Nicole Rucker and Rose Levy Beranbaum. The lessons there should give you the confidence to make the crust for Ben Mims’ Nashville Hot Pumpkin Pie — or for any other pie — with grace and ease.

Veronique de Turenne has her own ideas about how to make a perfect crust and insists that her Apple Pie is all about the filling. She recommends cutting the apples into large chunks and sprinkling sugar and spice on top of the fruit only after it is already in the crust, rather than tossing thinly sliced apples with the sugar in a bowl before filling the crust.

Of course, I’ve learned from my Times colleagues that cutting cold, solid fat into flour, rolling the dough to an even thickness and draping it onto a pie plate is not the only way to make a pie shell. Rather than fuss with chilled ingredients and rolling pins, Genevieve Ko’s vegan Bourbon Pecan Pie uses neutral vegetable oil for the crust. It is mixed by hand and then simply pressed directly into the pie dish — easy-peasy. Similarly, Mims makes his Malted Milk Pecan Pie crust by pouring hot, melted butter into the flour and then mixing it by hand. You don’t need to worry about overworking the dough when pressing it into the pan with your hands — you can redo it again and again until you are satisfied with how it looks. Even after all of that handling, the crust bakes up flaky and crispy. And the filling? You will not believe how 3 tablespoons of malted milk powder and some condensed milk transform pecan pie from already fabulous to shockingly delicious.

To get a jump-start on Thanksgiving Day preparations, you can make flaky pie crust in advance and store it refrigerated for up to three days or in the freezer for up to six months. The no-roll crusts can be made two to three days in advance. Fruit pies do well baked a day in advance of serving, which allows everything to firm up so they retain their shape when slicing.

Nashville hot chicken meets classic pumpkin pie for the perfect Thanksgiving dessert, thanks to cayenne and a touch of honey in the filling and chicken fat in the crust.


Time
2 hours


Yields
Makes two 9-inch pies

This apple pie never fails. Cut it open and it’s all about the fruit, generous hunks of gently baked apple, its pure, clean flavor enhanced by a sweet, spicy glaze.


Time
1 hour 10 minutes


Yields
Serves 8 to 10

This is even more delicious than regular pecan pie.


Time
2 hours, largely unattended


Yields
Serves 12

Sweetened condensed milk and malted milk powder add a creamy nuttiness that balances the often too-sweet pie.


Time
1 hour, plus 1 hour 10 minutes unattended


Yields
Serves 8

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