Bringing a Pie to a Thanksgiving Dinner: Making Ahead and Transporting

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I am getting close to my final pie lineup for Thanksgiving at my husband's family's house. There have been some changes: I'm not making apps after all -- I like my savory pies heated through, and oven space is at a premium since the guest list is now at (gulp) 19. I've also gotten a request for a fruit pie, and other people are covering pumpkin and pecan. So... I'm rethinking.

I'll let you know my final picks tomorrow -- but now that I'm drilling down to T-Day, I have some technical questions about timing, storage and transport. How soon is too soon to make Thanksgiving pie? Should I bake it now and freeze it? What can I do now, and what should I do day-of? How the heck do I get it there?

Thanksgiving pie

Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Pie Timing

It really depends on what you're baking. Pecan pies can be baked, then frozen, without suffering much; pumpkin pies suffer mightily from freezing. Thrifty Fun has a pretty complete, pie-by pie guide. Freezing pies unbaked and then throwing the pie in the oven for 30-45 minutes when you get there mitigates the suffering -- but really, most pie tastes best fresh-baked, and we're getting pretty close to T-Day anyway. Baking Bites recommends the following:

If possible, try to just bake your pie the day you intend to serve it, or perhaps the day before. To save time, prepare the crusts ahead of time and store them in the fridge, well-wrapped, for a couple of days. Having your crusts and filling ready to go will save a lot of time and turn what seems like a long process into a short one.

I'm going to make my filling and dough in advance, then roll out the crusts and bake everything the night before so the pies get thoroughly cooled. Then the day of Thanksgiving, all I have to do is wrap it all up and move it over.

How Do I Get My Pies There in One Piece?

I really liked this advice in the comments of my post, How Do You Transport a Pie? The commenter, saraharrow, is a courier, and I think her popcorn idea is smart:

Cooked pie - How big is the pie? The bigger the pie the easier it is to get damaged. Could it be made in smaller sizes? If so, pack them in tupperware and surround the pies with unflavoured popcorn so it cannot move. No flavours so it doesn't taint the pie and popcorn as it's dirt cheap as a packing material. Stack the tupperware on top of each other, and keep in a back pack style rucksack. You are more likely to keep it upright in this type of rucksack.

I also liked this pro tip on Yum Sugar -- it's a tutorial involving making bumpers for the square edges of a box out of parchment paper, so your circular pie stays in place.

Here's what I'm going to do: First, I'm squelching any thoughts of lemon meringue. I can't imagine a meringue topping making the trip over the Bay Bridge and to the 'burbs intact. I don't have pie carriers, but I do have shallow, square containers, so I will make parchment bumpers for the edges. Then, I am going to use the popcorn technique, stacking each pie upright in a backpack and surrounding it with popcorn. I may make use of my husband's furniture-moving bungees to keep the whole thing down. And drive slooooooowly.

Do I Need to Reheat My Thanksgiving Pie Before Serving?

Hot pie is delicious, but not necessary. As a guest, I'm making sure that all the pies I bake this week are nearly equally tasty at room temp, but hoping that there will be some oven space to heat them up. I love hot pie -- don't you?

Do you have any tricks for making pie ahead for Thanksgiving?

I'm blogging a pie a day in November -- it's NaBloPieMo! See it all in the Month of Pies archive.

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