Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I love everything about it from acknowledging all that we have to be thankful for…to gathering with friends and family…to spending the day in the kitchen making the family favorites and heirloom recipes…to eating *multiple* pies and desserts in one sitting…to leftovers for days…to following it up with Christmas movies and festivities the whole month after. It’s the holiday that stands for the right things and keeps giving.
However, each of the twelve years that I’ve been in the bakery industry, I’ve shed a layer of this Thanksgiving bliss and the ability to simply be in the moment. In the present day, I still think so fondly of what Thanksgiving used to mean to me, but the heightened level of checklists, production volumes, and operational hurdles to jump that are synonymous with a bakery’s Thanksgiving have changed things.
Of course, change comes with good and bad, and I’ve learned to appreciate a new kind of Thanksgiving over the years. One filled with a ton of work, but in an environment that is very festive and full of great people in and out. At the bakery, spirit in the air was high, and there was a vibrancy that you don’t find elsewhere. Even with the work load, a great team working together towards big production goals and knowing how much the end product means to the people eating it, makes for a rewarding season. It’s a special time of year, just in a completely different way.
As the holidays approach, I’m feeling like I don’t fit into either universe anymore. I’m committed to taking Thanksgiving back and retraining myself to relax, cook, eat, socialize, and enjoy each moment again. All of the things that made it special in the first place. At the same time, I’m feeling uneasy without the pressures of the holiday…and my team…like I’m forgetting something (big). Old habits die hard.
So, it seems only appropriate to kick off the holidays with a nod to both sides (the original Thanksgiving and the bakery Thanksgiving) by sharing my bakery team’s favorite holiday recipes. I was lucky to work with some amazing bakers at Flour & Co. One of the things I miss most is being around a team of people who love food…and love the holidays….and love holiday food. Recipe and idea swapping is never more fun.
Here’s the first of a two part holiday blog series including some of my favorite Flour & Co Bakers…a small group for Thanksgiving and a bigger group for Christmas.
The question I asked the Bakers: What’s the Must-Have Dish on your Thanksgiving Table?
Here are the answers AND recipes revealed. Click through each baker’s link for the details, as well as a Q&A about holidays at Flour & Co and what makes their Thanksgivings special.
Shelby’s Cabernet Cranberry Sauce – wow your guests with a wonderfully fragrant and flavorful version of the canned classic. This sauce can do double duty on the dinner table and on the dessert table, spooned over cheesecake or vanilla ice cream.
Haley’s Bourbon Apple & Pear Butter – a delicious spread for your dinner’s rolls or biscuits, plus use it on leftover turkey sandwiches the day after. It’s pretty delish by the spoonful too (err…palate cleanser).
Kita’s Spiced Chocolate Cream Pie – the dessert that will go first on the dessert table because who can resist chocolate. The spiced twist on this classic will be a delightful surprise and take away the guilt from passing up the pumpkin variety.
Emily’s Savory Sweet Potato Parsnip Au Gratin – turn the obligatory sweet potato dish that’s sweet into a side dish that’s voluntarily scraped clean.
Flour & Co’s Pumpkin Scones with Maple Orange Glaze – a perfect way to start Thanksgiving morning, and make them ahead (bake them fresh) for an easy start to the day.
Happy baking, cooking, and eating! We wish you a holiday filled with whatever makes you happy, and a moment to count your blessings. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
~ Emily and the Flour & Co Bakers
Also published on Medium.