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Pie Perfection

Pie and Thanksgiving are synonymous, and with the holidays coming, we wanted to enlist the help of a few of the most prominent pastry chefs in Kansas City to discover what they bring to Thanksgiving. When asked to share their favorite holiday pie recipe with our readers, they were happy to get baking and share their go-to holiday recipe. To view their crust recipe, visit

Classic Apple Pie

Jan Knobel – The Upper Crust 

Pie Dough  (enough for 2 pies)

2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed

5 cups flour, plus extra for rolling

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

Approximately ¾ cup ice water

In large bowl, work the butter into the flour, salt and sugar with your hands until you have pea-sized lumps of butter. Pour in small amounts of ice water at a time, gently incorporating just enough to moisten the dough. When the dough holds together on its own, stop mixing. Divide the dough into 4 balls and form each into a disk shape. Chill the dough until ready to roll out.

Filling: (for one 9-inch pie)

4-5 cups peeled, sliced apples (we generally use Fuji, but my grandmother’s first choice was Jonathan apples)

1 cup granulated sugar

¼ cup all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon butter, cubed

1 beaten egg, to brush top of crust

Sugar for sprinkling on top crust

For filling, measure apples into a large mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl, combine the sugar, flour, nutmeg and salt. Pour over the sliced apples and lightly toss.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Transfer the apple mixture to an unbaked pie shell rolled out and place in pie pan, pressing apples down gently to remove extra space between slices. Drizzle with lemon juice and top with cubed butter pieces.

Cover with top crust. Trim edges with scissors, leaving about 1–2 inches of overhang. Roll the top and bottom edges together underhand so that they’re sealed and sit on the rim of the pie pan. Crimp the edge, then brush top with a beaten egg. Vent top crust, allowing steam to escape during baking. Sprinkle with sugar. Place pie on cookie sheet (to catch juices) and bake until golden brown and thickened filling is bubbling from center, approximately 1 hour.

“This recipe comes from our grandmother. An accomplished baker, she always preferred a dash of nutmeg in her apple pie over cinnamon. The smell of this pie baking still conjures up sweet memories of family holidays that ALWAYS included PIE! “

-Jan Knobel

Sugar Cream Pie

Megan Garrelts  Rye Restaurants

Yield: (1) 10-inch pie  

Sugar Cream:  

3 cups granulated sugar  

1 cup brown sugar, packed 

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour  

3 cups heavy cream  

2 ¼ cups whole milk 

¾ teaspoon cinnamon, ground  

½ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated  

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract  

1 teaspoon kosher salt  

Brûlée Sugar: 

1 cup granulated sugar 

1 cup brown sugar  

1. Whisk sugars and flour together in a large mixing bowl. 

2. In a separate bowl whisk together the cream, milk, spices, salt and vanilla. 

3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and whisk in the cream mixture until combined. 

4. Pour the sugar cream into your prepared, pre-baked pie shell. 

5. Bake at 325 degrees F. for approximately 35-45 minutes until the cream base is set and slightly golden brown on top. 

6. Once the pie has cooled to room temperature, slice and serve or keep chilled. 

7. For the Brûlée Sugar, mix the two sugars together and pass through a fine mesh sieve.  

8. Dust the top of the chilled pie with a light, even layer of the sugars and carefully heat the sugars to a golden caramel using a handheld Brûlée torch. Repeat the sugar dusting process 2-3 times until there is a thin caramel crust on the top of the pie.  

9. Slice and serve. 

Classic Pie Crust 

Yield: one 9-inch double pie crust or two 9-inch single pie crusts 

2 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour  

1 tablespoon granulated sugar  

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt  

8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed (1 stick) 

1/2 cup cold lard, cubed  

1/2 cup ice water  

1. Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Take the dry ingredients and the bowl of your food processor and set in the freezer for 30 minutes; you want all the components to be very cold to ensure you get the flakiest crust possible.  

2. Place butter and lard on a plate or sheet pan to freeze.  

3. Combine the dry ingredients with the butter and lard in your food processor and pulse the ingredients until the butter and lard are the size of a small pea.  

4. Dump your ingredients in a cold bowl and slowly add your water. Add water gradually until the mixture just comes together. Knead the dough slightly until smooth.  

5. Portion your dough into two pieces and wrap with plastic. Place the dough in the refrigerator or freezer until chilled and firmer.  

6. To roll out the crust, dust your clean work surface with flour, along with your rolling pin. Flatten dough with the palm of your hand slightly before rolling. Roll dough out to fit the size of pan you are using. I like to lift the dough and rearrange it so that it stays nicely floured and is a uniform thickness around 1/4 inch.  

7. Roll pie dough back onto your rolling pin and dress your sprayed/ greased pie shell with the pie dough. Cut the excess pie dough off around the edges of your pan with a small paring knife.  

8. Crimp edge and set pie shell in the freezer for at least 30 minutes before baking.  


Take frozen pie shell and line with parchment paper or large coffee filter. Fill the inside of the pie with either rocks or beans to weigh down the pie dough and retain the shape of the pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes until the edges are brown and dry looking. Take the beans or rocks out of the shell and fill with desired fillings.

“Sugar Cream Pie is a signature Midwestern dessert, also known as the official state pie of Indiana. Simple and sweet, this vanilla pie with a touch of nutmeg and cinnamon pairs with any seasonal fruit as a welcoming addition to any holiday table. In the fall you’ll find a layer of quince jam on the bottom of the pie or candied pumpkin spooned over the top. For winter, I may add spiced cranberry to the pie shell or perfectly poached pears and bittersweet chocolate sauce served alongside. Spring and summer also offer many options from rhubarb, apricots, cherries, or plums to name a few. Don’t overthink the holidays: delicious simplicity goes along way!"

- Megan Garrelts 

Butterscotch Pie

Jessica Armstrong with Novel


3/4 cup brown sugar
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole milk
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

*1 pre-baked pie shell

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, flour and salt. Whisk in milk slowly.

Cook over medium heat until thickened, stirring constantly using a heat resistant rubber spatula. Cook for 6 minutes on low heat, stirring frequently. 

Whisk a bit of the hot mixture into the yolks, stir well and return the mixture to the pot.

Cook 1 minute. Stir in the butter and vanilla. Place the filling in a metal or glass bowl and let cool for 30 minutes. 

Fill the pie shell and let it cool for 3 hours or overnight in the fridge. 

When you are ready to serve, whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla until you have stiff peaks. Spread the cream on the pie. Garnish with pretzels and mini chocolate chips. 

Making this pie reminds me of cooking with my grandmother Millie when I was 8 years old. She was a wonderful baker. I believe my passion for pastry came from her. 

-Jessica Armstrong

“My family goes to our lake house every year for Thanksgiving, and this pecan pie is my favorite to serve. The creamy vanilla-scented custard and toasty pecans are a timeless pairing with the flaky, buttery crust. It's usually the first pie we polish off! An added bonus is that it's a fuss-free recipe and travels really well.” – Brooke Davis, pastry chef at Acre in Parkville

Pro-tip for Turkey Day Transport:

Sometimes I par bake my crust ahead of time and travel with the custard in a Mason jar so when I reach the destination, I can put the pecans and custard in the crust to bake it. If traveling closer to home, I put the pie dish in a Tupperware Stay Fresh Pie Carrier with Lid. They're very handy!


Traditional Pecan Pie

– Brooke Davis, pastry chef at Acre 

Makes 1 pie, 6-8 servings

Pie Crust:

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

A pinch of salt

8 tablespoons cold butter                          

¼ cup ice water                               

Pecan Pie Filling:

8.5 ounces (1 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons) granulated sugar                      

7 ounces (1/2 cup) dark corn syrup                      

5 ounces (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons butter), melted                               

3 eggs                                    

2 teaspoons vanilla extract                        

2 1/4 cups pecan halves                                         

Whipped Cream:

1 cup heavy whipping cream                     

¼ cup powdered sugar                  

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

Pie Crust Instructions:

  1. Prepare the pie crust by combining the flour and salt in a bowl. Cut the cold butter into medium-sized cubes and add to the flour. Using your hands, rub the butter into the flour mixture until pea-sized crumbles begin to form. Next, add the ice-cold water in a couple additions, mixing with your hands between additions. When the dough comes together, it’s ready! This could take a little more or less than the ¼ cup of ice-cold water. A little bit of dry flour in the bowl is OK, as you do not want the dough to be sticky.

2. To roll out the dough, flour the surface of your table and the top of your dough. Roll the dough out, rotating it occasionally to ensure it does not stick to the table and to maintain a round shape. If the dough starts sticking, gently lift it and sprinkle a little more flour underneath. You will want your resulting dough circle to be around 2 inches larger in diameter than your 9-inch pie tin. 

3. Gently roll the pie dough around your rolling pin, lift it, and unroll it over your pie tin. You can lift and tuck the dough until it is resting into the corners of the tin and there is a little overhang on all sides. Trim the overhang with scissors, if necessary, until there is only ½ inch on all sides. Fold this under itself and crimp the dough with the pointer finger of one hand and the thumb and pointer finger of the other.

4. Poke the dough with a fork and chill for at least 30 minutes before lining it with parchment paper and baking weights (ceramic pie weights or dried beans work beautifully).

5. Bake pie for about 14 minutes in an oven preheated to 425 degrees F. until the crust is beginning to turn golden. Remove the baking weights and parchment and return the crust to the oven until the entire crust is evenly golden brown. Allow to cool completely before filling.

Pie Filling Instructions:

Combine the sugar, dark corn syrup and melted butter in a pot. Bring to a boil, and boil for 1 minute.Allow the sugar filling to cool so it does not cook the eggs when they are added.Once cooled, add the eggs and vanilla extract, and stir to combine. (At this point, the custard can be used immediately or stored in the fridge for up to 5 days until use.) Place the pecans in an even layer on the bottom of the baked and cooled pie shell.Pour the custard over the top of the pecans, ensuring you coat all of them (this gives them a shiny surface when they’re baked).Bake the pie at 325 degrees F. for around 40 minutes. Check for doneness when the center of the pie begins to dome. It should be firm to the touch and golden brown. (If the pecans begin to toast too much before the pie is set, cover with aluminum foil and continue baking until done).

Whipped Cream Instructions:

Using a handheld mixer, stand mixer with a whisk attachment, or whisk-by-hand, beat the whipped cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla until medium peaks are formed. This recipe results in about 2 cups of whipped cream and can easily be doubled. This can be stored in the fridge, but the texture is best when it is made last minute.

“My family goes to our lake house every year for Thanksgiving, and this pecan pie is my favorite to serve. The creamy vanilla-scented custard and toasty pecans are a timeless pairing with the flaky, buttery crust. It's usually the first pie we polish off! An added bonus is that it's a fuss-free recipe and travels really well.” – Brooke Davis, pastry chef at Acre in Parkville

S’more Pie

Ann Lewis with Easy as Pie


1 package (9 sheets) graham crackers

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Dash of salt

Dash of granulated sugar


1 1/3 cups heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

dash of salt

2 eggs, beaten


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Begin by making the graham cracker crust. Place your package of graham crackers into a food processor and combine until reduced to slightly coarse crumbs. This should take 30-45 seconds. Place graham cracker crumbs, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl and combine. In a separate bowl, melt the butter. Add melted butter to the graham cracker mixture. The texture should resemble wet sand. Spray a 9-inch pie tin/plate with nonstick spray and pour in the graham cracker mixture. Build up the sides to 1/3 inch thickness, then use the remaining mix for the base of the crust. Place in the freezer for at least 10 minutes (can be left in the freezer overnight if you want to make it in advance).  If you prefer to buy a graham cracker crust, that will work just fine, too. 

In a heat-safe bowl, add the chocolate chips and vanilla. In a small saucepan, combine whipping cream, salt and sugar. Over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, bring the liquid mixture to a slight boil. Once the liquid mixture has come to a slight boil, immediately add over the chocolate mixture. Stir until combined. In a separate small bowl, beat two eggs and set aside. Wait 10-15 minutes until the chocolate mixture has cooled slightly and add the eggs. Stir until the mixture is completely combined, leaving no streaks of the eggs. 

Place a chilled graham cracker crust on a baking tray, and pour the chocolate mixture into the crust. Bake at 325 degrees for 24-27 minutes, or until the outer perimeter of the filling is set and the inside is slightly jiggly.

Let the pie cool for 1-2 hours at room temperature, then place in the refrigerator. The day you would like to serve the pie, add mini marshmallows to the entire top of the chilled filling, and broil on low until the marshmallows have a nice, golden-brown color. Wait 1-2 minutes and place Hershey bars or crushed graham crackers on top for decoration. Best enjoyed 1-2 days after the marshmallow topping has been added to the pie. If the pie is being eaten directly after removing it from the refrigerator, place each slice in a bowl/plate and warm in the microwave for 15-20 seconds to make the marshmallow topping nice and gooey! Enjoy!

“Although I'm somewhat of a traditionalist when it comes to holiday pies, I think it's fun to do something a little bit different that your guests will definitely enjoy! This s'mores pie brings all of those nostalgic fall bonfires into the forefront of your mind and is likely to be a hit with adults and kids alike!”

-Ann Lewis