Thanksgiving Baking Tips and Treats from a Sonoma Pastry Chef

It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving dinner without fresh baked sweet treats on the menu. Don’t we all look forward to the moment when we can dig our fork into a slice of pumpkin pie, topped with decadent whipped cream? Or savoring the flaky crust and tartness of the apples in Mom’s homemade pie?

Sonoma Pastry Chef and proprietor of Crisp Bake Shop, Andrea Koweek, shares her holiday baking tips, along with photos of her beautiful and delicious Thanksgiving desserts, taken by Sonoma photographer Sarah Deragon.

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Photo Credit: Sarah Deragon

Chocolate Hazelnut & Espresso Cake with Hazelnut Praline & Espresso Filling and Vanilla Bean Buttercream, $50

START WITH A GREAT RECIPE 

“Successful baking is all about following good recipes,” Andrea advises. “If you don’t have a recipe you can rely on to be tasty – either one you’ve used for years or a recipe from a friend or relative – ask around and if you do research online, find a reliable site and make sure to read the reviews thoroughly.”

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Photo Credit: Sarah Deragon

Apple Pie with Cardamom & Brandy and a Lattice Top Crust, $36

ACCURACY MATTERS

“With cooking you can sometimes wing it, but with baking you really need to follow your recipes exactly,” says Andrea. “Weigh ingredients whenever possible, make sure your ingredients are at the correct temperature, use the proper baking pans and make sure your oven temperature is accurate – an oven thermometer is a great tool!”

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Photo Credit: Sarah Deragon

Pumpkin Pie with Bourbon Maple Pumpkin Filling, $32

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Photo Credit: Sarah Deragon

STOCK UP  

“The great thing about baking is that most recipes use a basic standard set of ingredients,” Andrea says, “so if you make sure you have plenty of butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, flour and chocolate in the house, you can make a variety of delicious items with just a few additions.”

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Photo Credit: Sarah Deragon

Salted Caramel Chocolate Macarons, $22 per dozen or $2 each

PREPARE IN ADVANCE 

Andrea suggests doing as much preparation in advance as possible and says, “Holiday baking really lends itself to advance preparation: pie pans can be lined with dough and put in the freezer weeks in advance. Cookie doughs can be rolled out and portioned either with a small ice cream scoop or cut into shapes. These doughs can typically be refrigerated or frozen and the items can be baked as you need or want them.”

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Photo Credit: Sarah Deragon

Earl Grey Macaron, $22 per dozen or $2 each

BAKE WHAT YOU LOVE

“Most of all,” she says, “bake the things you enjoy making…and eating!”

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Photo Credit: Sarah Deragon

Almond Croissant, $3.85 each

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Photo Credit: Sarah Deragon

Morning Bun, $3.85 each

Andrea reminds us, “The holidays are all about spending time with friends and family and baking is one of the best ways to provide a homemade touch to your meals without taking time away from that because you can do so much in advance.”

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Photo Credit: Sarah Deragon

If baking isn’t your thing or you don’t have time, you can order your sweet treats from Andrea at Crisp Bake Shop, just like I did!

For more tips on holiday table decor and floral arranging, check out ” and  How to Create a Beautiful Floral Arrangement for Thanksgiving.

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