Pie for Breakfast Party

By Carol Dawson
Photography by Andy Sams

Pies for the Pie-for-Breakfast prepared with Austin singer-songwriter Tricia Mitchell, in her kitchen

Some years ago, my then-new boyfriend told me that he liked to throw a party every Thanksgiving morning based on the premise of dessert first. After all, who has the stamina or available gut space to relish the coup de grâce with the enthusiasm it deserves after the turkey gorge fest?

The solution: eat dessert hours before the big meal, preferably with friends and acquaintances as well as family members, thus making it a true fête with which to kick-start the holiday!

At that time, the confluence of three of my favorite virtues—whimsy, hospitality and pie-making—seemed brilliant, as well as an auspicious omen for our budding romance. I was enchanted by my lover’s apparent originality in conceiving the idea (it turns out he didn’t—but that’s okay, he carried it out). He’d found yet another way into my heart, one even more red-hot and piercing than Cupid’s arrows, for I worship pie.

Pie is more than a dessert; it’s more than a personally cherished food; it’s more than a food, period. It is memory. It is history, tradition, American bedrock, transcendence. It is bounty, the queen of the harvest. It’s the great healer of wounds, ambrosia on the tongue, a collision of textures that creates heaven on earth—especially fruit pie!

Although my new lover didn’t yet know it, I had once even proposed a food article entitled The Perilous Paucity of Public Pie, written entirely in alliteration, addressing the fact that God’s gift to our palates seemed to be disappearing from café and restaurant menus across the country, only to be replaced by such poseur parvenu as crème brûlée and tiramisu.

Now, many years after that romance died, the best souvenir from the ashes is definitely the Pie for Breakfast Party. Love may bloom and wither, friends may come and go (and they do and should during this very civilized event), some may marry another (I did)—but the Pie for Breakfast Party is forever. You cannot have too many friends, you cannot have too much pie and you should always share both when you can enjoy them most. What better time than a crisp, fall Thanksgiving morning, well before the gastronomic gut blitz?

Tips for Success

• The most crucial tip: throw this party when you’re absolutely sure that someone other than you is the chief provider of Thanksgiving dinner later in the day.

• Invite guests to arrive between 8:30 and 11:00 a.m. This allows time for other activities they might have planned.

• Choose pies that you can bake the night before, and those that will stand up proudly to a 12-hour wait. (The evening pie baking is half the pleasure, especially as you have already ascertained that you will not be the one stuffing and roasting a turkey and two dozen candied yams the next morning.) Most fruit pies work well, including berry, cherry, rhubarb-strawberry and, of course, many versions of apple—these are best left sitting out on the counter overnight, rather than in the fridge. Pecan and other nut pies, as well as fudge-type pies and pumpkin pies, work too, but they must be refrigerated. Cream and meringue pies are not as delectable after a sleepover in the fridge, and their crusts tend to get soggy. In my opinion, buttermilk, butterscotch and other icebox pies fail to fulfill the spirit of the festive autumn breakfast. Save them for another occasion. Or buy a pie from one of our many great Central Texas pie bakeries (see below for pie resource list).

• Don’t forget the beverages. About five minutes before guests are due to arrive, brew several gallons of coffee and tea and keep them hot in carafes. Water and orange juice are, of course, also required—the latter perhaps served with a jigger of Champagne added. This is breakfast, after all.

• Make the toppings. Also at the last minute, whip up a couple of big bowlfuls of cream—one with a few dashes of a liqueur such as Paula’s Texas Orange, Disaronno or St. Germain stirred in, and place them at hand for guests to dollop at will. Other toppings such as whiskey sauce and ice cream should also be available. Don’t bother with cheese. There will be plenty of savory flavors later on.

• People should feel free to come and go. This is not a party with a fixed schedule, because everyone moves on to meal commitments elsewhere—it takes place over a two- or three-hour period of tidal socializing. Remember, the fun is in eating and sharing dessert first, while you still have room for it.

• Use disposable plates if you like, but keep the real silverware. Pie pleasure is always diminished by plastic utensils. Respect the dignity of your offerings.

• Relax and enjoy your guests.



Apple and Green Chile Deep-Dish Pie
Fabulous Pie Crust, Courtesy of Princess Louise Dawson, Carol Dawson’s mother
Kentucky Peach Pie, Courtesy of Princess Louise Dawson, Carol Dawson’s mother
Lolita’s Pecan Pie, Courtesy of Lolita Poehlmann, Carol Dawson’s mother-in-law


Pie Resource List

Bluebonnet Cafe
211 Hwy. 281
Marble Falls, TX 78654

Hoover’s Cooking
2002 Manor Rd.
Austin, TX 78722

Me Myself and Pie
7703 Timber Hills Dr.
Del Valle, TX 78617

Pie Fixes Everything
Home delivery service

Royers Round Top Cafe
105 Main St.
Round Top, TX 78954

Sweetish Hill Bakery
1120 W. Sixth St.
Austin, TX 78703

Cutie Pie Wagon
South Congress Food Park
1600 S. Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78704

Texas Pie Company
202 W. Center
Kyle, TX 78640

Texas Pie Kitchen
Austin Resource Center for the Homeless
500 E. 7th St.
Austin, TX 78701

The Upper Crust Bakery Cafe
4508 Burnet Road
Austin, Texas 78756

Wimberley Pie Company
Located ¼ mile east of the square
on Ranch Rd. 12 in Wimberley, TX 78676