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Here we are approaching the Thanksgiving holiday... only a few days away and I am still trying to figure out my pies for the celebration! As some of you may know already, I not only bake pies, but enjoy cooking, as well. So, Thanksgiving is a big deal at our house. We usually have Turkey, gravy, garlic mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes with toasted pecans and tiny marshmallows. There is also cranberry orange sauce, green beans with smoked ham, and bread (some years cornbread, and other years yeast rolls) and quality time spent with the family, usually including History or Bible trivia with Dad. Then, after our stomachs have had a little time to settle, we feast on pies ...
The Baker Family Thanksgiving Table Laura's garlic mashed potatoes
Wondering if the Bakers have the same pie every Thanksgiving? Sort of... I make a Cherry Almond Pie every year for my husband + Dad and a pumpkin pie for my daughter, Marguerite. But, what about my favorite?
I LOVE baking and cooking for my family, but I usually like to bake a pie for myself and test a new one out on family. The special thanksgiving 'test bake' pie I have been pondering is a Mandarin Orange Cheesecake. I have an excellent recipe for the cheesecake, but on the first test bake, the topping came out messy and not too attractive. So, I have been partnering with my good friend Kathy to come up with new ideas of creating a beautiful image for this cheesecake recipe that will inspire me to illustrate it. Imagine cracking open a can of mandarin oranges and arranging them over a cheesecake top. Well, the canned orange segments are so recognizable that it basically looked liked I dumped a can of oranges on top. The photos taken of that cheesecake were not inspiring, although the flavor was amazing.
If I am not inspired to paint the image (photo), then I have a hard time getting started on that illustration. I think it has been about 10 years since that first test bake of the Mandarin Orange Cheesecake. Woah. To get out of my rut, I need to bake it again and pose the slice of pie on a different plate or make it in a new way. Now is your time to shine, cheesecake! This is such an unusual recipe, I really want to include it in my next cookbook (if I can get it right). See below for a picture of the first test bake Mandarin Orange Cheesecake... messy topping and all.
Kathy (KP) has been a great friend for 35+ years and was my roommate for 12 years after college. The two of us spent many hours playing and creating in the kitchen and made a great team. I learned an enormous amount about cooking/baking and gathered some amazing recipes from this talented lady. I'm so excited to see what our partnership will create, using her amazing recipe for Mandarin Orange Cheesecake! So, what is the plan, you ask?
We have met once to discuss and I have been doing my research online... not finding exactly what I am imagining, but maybe an amalgamation of a few recipes. I imagine the topping to be super bright orange, maybe with some bits of mandarin chopped up throughout. This layer will be thickened with cornstarch and added on top of the cooled cheesecake, and then chilled again. To further decorate the top of the cheesecake, I plan to make some sugared slices of mandarin oranges to decorate the top. Basically there would be one candied mandarin per slice to decorate. I think this may do the trick on inspiring me to create a painting. I think that this may be the first recipe that I have made that I envision the final painting first! Ha. Here is an example of what I am thinking for the candied orange slices.
So, that is my current plan for Thanksgiving baking, but we'll see if I have time for everything! To wrap up this blog post, I thought I would share a couple of photos from past Thanksgiving celebrations. I hope that you and your family have a wonderful celebration giving thanks to God for all the amazing things that we take for granted most of the year long. I intend to give thanks at our table for PIE. Pie love you, Laura
A Cherry Almond Lattice top Pie and Black Bottom Pie
Last year pies, another Cherry Almond Pie and a test bake Missouri Nut Pie (pecan & black walnut). My husband being silly behind me (LOVE this pic)!
So, that is my current plan for Thanksgiving baking, but we'll see if I have time for everything! Stay tuned to my social media pages for photos of the completed cheesecake. Just look for Pie Baker Lady on Instagram and FaceBook.