By Bryan Noyes with Nevin Martell
Most people don't mess with their Thanksgiving menu, but maybe you should. Grandma's apple pie may evoke Proustian memories and should always make an appearance, but there's always room for another dessert. Bryan Noyes' new book, Red Truck Bakery, offers great inspiration for a new tradition. Chapters include breakfast, pies, cookies, breads, cakes, quiche, and more. With 85 recipes from his rural Virginia bakery, the book offers everything you need to add a new spark to your holiday meal.
Having guests for the long weekend? Try some of the lip-smacking breakfast/brunch offerings. There are copious carbs, both sweet and savory: blueberry and ginger scones, ham scones with cheddar and scallions, barnyard breakfast pie, and legendary granola. The barnyard breakfast pie is basically a full bacon-eggs-biscuits-pimento-cheese diner breakfast baked in a pie shell. The granola was hailed by Andrew Zimmern as the best in North America; Jane and Michael Stern upped its status to best in world.
Aunt Darla's smoky pimento cheese is next-level delicious; quick-pickled onions and smoked paprika make it pop. The Southern staple also shows up in the skillet cornbread slathered with the pimento cheese as "frosting," and in mac and pimento cheese. Who doesn't need a little pimento cheese frosting in their life?
Another standout is autumn quiche with butternut squash and herbed goat cheese, quite possibly the perfect brunch for fall weekend guests. Unexpected details, like the brushing of Dijon mustard on the quiche crust, adds layers of flavor. My teenage son, who professes to like neither butternut squash nor goat cheese, ate half the quiche in a single sitting.
There are variations on pies that will make your relatives swoon: caramel pumpkin pie, Kentucky bourbon pecan pie with chocolate in a pretzel crust (appeals to my obsession with sweet and salty combinations), and the sweet potato pecan pie, aka the presidential pie, which President Barack Obama made famous on Pi Day, March 14, 2016. No matter your political slant, try the pie; it's the unlikely happy marriage of sweet potato and pecan pies. It will be on my Thanksgiving table. Maybe we can all be united in pie.
1 store-bought crust
For the sweet potato filling:
1 cup cooked and mashed sweet potato flesh (from about 3 large sweet potatoes)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 large egg, beaten
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon bourbon
For the bourbon filling:
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
¼ cup sorghum syrup
¾ cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon bourbon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of kosher salt
2 cups unsalted pecan halves
- Roll out the pie dough into a 13-inch round, fit it into a 10-inch pie pan, trim, and crimp the edges. Chill for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place a raised wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet.
- Make the sweet potato filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the sweet potato on medium speed until fluffy and smooth. Swap the whisk attachment for the paddle attachment and add the butter. Mix well to combine. Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, egg, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg and beat on medium speed until creamy. Scrape down the sides. Add the cream and bourbon and mix on medium speed until thoroughly incorporated.
- Make the bourbon filling: In a large bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, eggs, sorghum syrup, corn syrup, bourbon, melted butter, cinnamon, and salt until thoroughly combined. Don't overbeat; you don't want the mixture to get thick and foamy.
- Pour the sweet potato filling into the pie shell, filling it halfway (you may have some left over). Smooth evenly with a spatula or the back of a spoon.
- Pour in half the bourbon filling, spreading it evenly. Scatter the pecans over the filling. Add the remaining bourbon filling on top of the pecans, using your fingers to make sure each pecan is coated.
- Carefully place the pie on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, turning the baking sheet after 30 minutes. Give the pan a light shake; if the filling seems too liquid, bake for up to 20 minutes more, until the bourbon filling is firm. Let cool on a raised wire rack.