special thanks to Red Door Lakeland for the use of their dining room

Memories and traditions often go hand in hand, as though they were made for each other. Traditions help guarantee a spot on the mind’s shelf for those memories that are the real-life movies we play over and over again. My family loves reminiscing about the time cousin Cody snuck a snake in the house and waited to see everyone scatter and run screaming out the door. They laugh remembering the time at Thanksgiving dinner when my Uncle David said that he couldn’t drink water because it bloats him; he has to drink sweet tea instead. I wouldn’t have these little golden nuggets without tradition.

Every family has traditions, some ordinary and some grandiose, each as important as the next. I didn’t grow up with family around the corner, so holidays were usually long weekends away filled with catching up, Nana’s sour cream and butter biscuits, Aunt Sabi’s mac ‘n’ cheese, Mom’s collard greens, cousin Shelby’s and my mutual affinity for cherry pie, and the remarks from my loving, but transparent, Papa about the overuse of toilet paper and water bottles. We rarely missed a game of Mexican Train Dominoes or the spread of desserts that was just as generous as the main course.
We often intend to prepare something special for the ones we love, especially when it comes to dessert, but sometimes life happens and we find ourselves in the middle of the grocery store scrambling for something — anything — that resembles homemade.
But why not finish strong? Dessert is usually the last thing you put in your mouth at the end of a perfectly gluttonous Thanksgiving meal (unless you’re my Papa Dallas), so take the time to do it right. It’s worth it.
The pies you see here have played an important part in my family’s traditions. They make up some of my life’s sweetest memories. These recipes were passed down from grandparent to aunt, to cousin to daughter, and now to you. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have throughout the years!
[item title=”ALL BUTTER PIE CRUST”]
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 tablespoons ice water
Mix flour, sugar, and salt in processor. Add butter; pulse until coarse meal forms. Gradually blend in enough ice water to form moist clumps. Gather dough into ball; divide in half. Form dough into two balls; flatten into disks. Wrap each in plastic; chill 2 hours or overnight.[/item]
[item title=”BLACK BOTTOM OAT PIE”]
(adapted from The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book)
Using our favorite ALL BUTTER pie crust.
Black Bottom Oatmeal Pie Filling:
1-1/2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (we use 70%), chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup dark corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
4 large eggs
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to form a round that is 2 to 3 inches larger than your pan, and about 1/8 inch in thickness. Transfer dough to pie pan and trim overhang to 1 to 1-1/2 inches. Transfer to freezer for 20 minutes. Position racks in bottom and middle racks, and preheat oven to 425 degrees F. When crust has been in freezer for 10 minutes, remove and line it tightly with aluminum foil.
Pour pie weights or beans into the pan and spread them so they’re concentrated more around the edge of the shell than in the center. Place the pan on the preheated baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until the crimped edges are set but not browned. Remove the pan and the baking sheet from the oven, lift out the foil and pie weights, and let the crust cool for a minute. Use a pastry brush to coat the bottom and sides with a thin layer of egg-white glaze to moistureproof the crust. Return the pan, on the baking sheet, to the oven’s middle rack and continue baking for 3 more minutes. Remove and cool completely before filling.
For the filling:
Reduce the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the oats on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
To make the ganache layer, bring the heavy cream just to a boil over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Remove from the heat and pour in the chocolate pieces. Swirl the cream around to distribute and cover the chocolate; let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk gently until smooth. Scrape the ganache into the cooled pie shell and spread evenly over the bottom. Place the shell in the freezer to set the ganache while making the filling.
In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, ginger, salt, and melted butter. Add the corn syrup, vanilla, and cider vinegar, and whisk to combine. Add the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Stir in the cooled oats.
Place the ganache-coated pie shell on a rimmed baking sheet and pour in the filling. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for about 55 minutes, rotating 180 degrees when the edges start to set, 30 to 35 minutes through baking. The pie is finished when the edges are set and puffed slightly and the center is slightly firm to the touch but still has some give (like gelatin). Allow to cool completely on a wire rack, 2 to 3 hours. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.[/item]
Using our favorite ALL BUTTER pie crust recipe.
2 cups (a 15-oz can) pumpkin puree
3 large eggs
1-1/4 cups packed dark-brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup milk (I use 1%; any type is fine)
1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon milk, for brushing
For the filling:
Whisk the pumpkin, 3 eggs, and brown sugar together until combined. Add the cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, pepper, cream, and milk. Vigorously whisk until everything is combined. Filling will be a little thick.
Turn oven up to 375 degrees F. The pie will bake at 375 degrees F.
Roll out the chilled pie crust: Remove second pie dough from the refrigerator. On the same floured work surface, turn the dough about a quarter turn after every few rolls until you have a circle 12 inches in diameter. Carefully place the dough into a 9-inch deep dish pie (one that is 1.5 – 2 inches deep). Tuck it in with your fingers, making sure it is smooth. With a small, sharp knife, trim the extra overhang of crust and discard. Crimp the edges with your fingers, if desired. Brush edges lightly with beaten egg/milk mixture. Using pie weights, pre-bake the crust for 10 minutes.
Pour pumpkin pie filling into the warm pre-baked crust. If you did not use a deep-dish pie pan, you will have too much filling. Only fill the crust about 3/4 of the way up. (Use extra to make mini pies with leftover pie dough scraps, if you’d like.) Bake the pie until the center is almost set, about 55 to 60 minutes give or take. A small part of the center will be wobbly; that’s ok. After 25 minutes of baking, be sure to cover the edges of the crust with aluminum foil or use a pie crust shield to prevent the edges from getting too brown.
Check for doneness at minute 50, and then 55, and then 60, etc.
Once done, transfer the pie to a wire rack and allow to cool completely for at least 3 hours. Cover leftovers tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
For the meringue:
2 cups granulated sugar
8 large egg whites, room temperature
Just before serving, make the meringue: Combine granulated sugar and egg whites in the heatproof bowl of a mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Transfer bowl to mixer, and whisk on medium speed for 3 minutes. Raise speed to high, and whisk until stiff glossy peaks form, about 6 minutes more. Dollop meringue onto pie, and spread using a swirling motion.
Hold a small handheld kitchen torch at a 90-degree angle 3 to 4 inches from surface of meringue. Move flame back and forth until meringue starts to brown.[/item]
[item title=”DEEP-DISH CHERRY PIE “]
(my favorite from
For the pie crust:
3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 (12 ounces) sticks cold unsalted butter, cubed
3/4 cup ice water, plus more as needed
For the finished pie:
4 pounds sour or sweet cherries, pitted
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup cornstarch
egg wash, as needed for finishing
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
Make the pie crust: In a large bowl or in a food processor, combine the flour and salt. Add the butter and toss to coat. Cut the butter into the flour with your hands or a pastry cutter (or pulse it in the food processor) until the butter resembles the size of walnut halves.
Add the water and mix to combine. Add more water as needed to get the dough to come together. It should not be wet or sticky. Divide the dough — you’ll need 2/3 of the dough for the bottom crust and 1/3 for the top crust. Wrap each piece of dough and chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger quantity of dough to 1/3-inch thick. Transfer it to the springform pan and trim the edge so there is 1/2-inch overhang all around. Chill the dough inside pan for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Dock the chilled dough with a fork on the base and sides. Line the crust with parchment paper and pie weights, and bake until the crust is beginning to brown at the edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the parchment and pie weights. If the base looks visibly wet or under-baked,
return the crust to the oven without the pie weights for another 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
While the pie is cooling: In a large bowl, combine the cherries, lemon zest and juice, and vanilla. In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cornstarch to combine, then add to the cherry mixture. Mix until the cherries are evenly coated.
Mound the filling into the cooled crust, pressing firmly to ensure minimal air pockets.
Make a nice, rounded mound at the top.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the smaller amount of dough to 1/3-inch thick. Use a rolling pin to transfer the dough to the top of the pie.
Trim away any excess dough, leaving 3/4 inch all the way around the edge. Nudge the edge down into the side of the springform pan so that it meets the top edge of the bottom crust. Push the crust down a bit so the excess puckers outward and creates a little lip, just like the
edge of a typical pie. Press that outer lip together to seal the edges a bit, then crimp with a fork to seal.
Egg wash the top crust evenly and sprinkle with turbinado sugar all over. Cut vents in the top of the pie.
Transfer the pie to the prepared baking sheet and bake until the crust is very golden and the filling is bubbling through the vents, 45 to 50 minutes. If the pie is browning too much or too quickly, reduce the oven temperature to 375 and/or tent the top of the pie with foil.
Cool the pie completely — seriously! — before slicing and serving. Unmold the outer edge of the springform pan. Slide an offset spatula around the edge of the base of the pan; if the pie is really cool and it feels solid in the middle, you’ll likely be able to pick up the pie with your
hands (or a large spatula) and transfer to a platter or stand. If it feels soft in the middle, you may rather keep it on the springform base for slicing. If you’re feeling naughty, serve it with a drizzle of cold heavy cream.[/item]
[item title=”SALTY HONEY PIE”]
(adapted from The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book)
For the filling:
1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons white cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup honey
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup cream
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 to 2 tablespoons flake sea salt
For the crust:
We used our favorite ALL-BUTTER pie crust recipe.
Prebake the crust: Roll the dough out to fit a 9-inch pie pan, about ¼-inch thick. Place in a buttered pie pan, and crimp the edges as desired. Allow to rest and cool in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
Line the crust with tinfoil or unwaxed parchment paper, add pie weights or about a cup of dried beans if you don’t have pie weights. Distribute them evenly.
Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before filling with custard.
To make the pie:
Melt butter and combine with the sugar, salt, and cornmeal to make a thick paste.
Add the honey, vanilla paste, and vinegar, and mix together.
Mix in the beaten eggs and the cream until all ingredients are well combined.
Pour the filling into the prebaked pie shell and bake at 350 degrees F for 45 to 60 minutes. The filling will puff up like a marshmallow, and the center will be just slightly wobbly.
Once cooled (at least one hour), finish with a sprinkling of flake sea salt.
Slice and serve with whipped cream.