Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Nov 19, 2009 11:41 AM

T-day desserts ahead of time

Trying to figure out how much cooking I can get done ahead of time for Thanksgiving, and I would love to do my baking in advance. But will a pumpkin pie and an apple pie suffer from being in the oven for several days? I'm worried about mushiness. If that won't work, I'll do the crusts ahead of time and fill and bake the day before, but I'd love it if I could conquer desserts on Sunday. Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I'm wondering the same thing! I'm not a pie maker, but I've been asked to make pecan pie. And I really don't want to hop up after the feast to start baking. And I can't bake it that day because there will be too many other things in the oven. And I can't bake it the day before because we'll be driving across the country...

    I bet you went "being in the fridge for several days", since being in the oven for several days would give you a different set of issues.

    I do know that you can make the dough in advance and leave it in the fridge. And I know that some people "seal" the bottom crust with a thin layer of caramel (or really just melted granulated sugar) to keep the fruit juice from making it soggy. But I'll be interested to see if someone else knows the answer.

    3 Replies
    1. re: cholderby

      IMHO a pie tastes better the fresher it is. I will happily eat pie that is several days old, but it definitely isn't as good as pie baked that day. So, the answer is, sure, you can bake it ahead, but it's not the best thing to do.

      In terms of the crust being made ahead and left raw in the fridge, that's another story. You can definitely do that with no change in the pie's taste and texture. I usually make the crust the day before, then make and bake the actual pie(s) early in the morning the day of.

      1. re: cholderby

        With a pecan pie I would think you could prepare the pie shell and fridge it, mix the filling ingredients up, put them in a tupperware, take them both to the party, fridge them. Then after dinner, hop up, pour the filling into your pre-prepared pie shell, and stick it in the oven. Not too bad in terms of on-site baking time.

        1. re: visciole

          For a pecan and pumpkin pie I also like to partially pre-bake the shell. This keeps it from getting too soggy. I think you can spread out the steps this way: The dough you can make ahead of time. Roll it out and into the dish and stick it in the fridge when you arrive at your destination. Then as soon as the turkey comes out of the oven stick the pie shell in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Leave it be.... have your dinner. Then pour the filling in and pop it in the oven... Only problem with all of this is that pecan pie can take a long time to cool and set. I find it best still a bit wobbly... you know not moving in a liquid wave when pushed but jiggley. To keep that loose though its really got to cool... were talking almost 2 hours. It will still be warm at that point.

          That method sounds stressful to me but I am also responsible for a good deal of the other cooking too.

          I have the same predicament... I just won't have time to bake T-day morning at my folks and I was going to do it the night before but the traffic might get me there too late to start the process. So I've opted to make them right after work on Wednesday and then drive down to my folks (3 hrs-not THAT bad) with a couple of hot pies in the trunk of my car. I figure if I leave late maybe I'll avoid some traffic.

          I'm sorry but Sunday is just too early to get your baking done. The pecan may be ok but the pumpkin is just not going to be that good anymore and both your crusts are going to suffer. Tuesday night at the earliest...

      2. Go for a pumpkin cheesecake!

        1. I would do the pies the day before. Fridge the pumpkin but leave the apple at room temp. Doing them three days before will leave you with mushy crusts and they could possibly pick up off flavors during storage. That said, I did my pumpkin cheesecake today (we're doing T-day early, this Saturday) because I use a shortbread crust on that and I know it'll hold and right now it's by itself in the spare fridge with only beverage bottles for company. I'm doing the apple crisp tomorrow because I know that'll hold fine overnight at room temp until dinner on Saturday.

          2 Replies
          1. re: morwen

            I think that's going to have to be my plan. Thankfully, I just learned that the office will be closed Wednesday afternoon, so I just gained a few hours that I didn't have. I'll still have to tackle a few things early though.

            1. re: morwen

              The day before is best for pies due to the crust issue, however you can actually freeze your crust and filling for fruit pies (separately) and combine them at the last minute for a fresh pie. I'm only in charge of dessert for the holidays so I've never actually done it but here is a link to the basic process.


              Oh, also we've made and frozen fully cooked pecan pies and they taste great after thawing on the counter.

            2. in 2001 we found a recipe for a festive, seasonal and extremely good sweet potato cake with orange/cream cheese frosting. the cake begs to be baked early and actually improves for a day or two. we've included it in our menu since we found it. we still make a late pie or two, but the big seller after dinner is the cake.

              here's a link to the recipe--but double the frosting.

              1 Reply
              1. re: silverhawk

                silverhawk, that is a great suggestion. Here I am fixated on pies... I forgot all about cakes! I'd also like to suggest this gingerbread cake recipe that improves after a couple days. I usually make it for christmas but it would be great a Thanksgiving as well. Its great with some fresh whipped cream.