Pie vs Cake

How come pie gets all the love at Thanksgiving?
Is it because the pilgrims couldn’t bake a cake? Perhaps they lacked baking powder. Certainly chocolate was not available. And there’s nowhere to plug in the KitchenAid.

Or maybe it’s because we celebrate most other holidays with cake and this is pie’s big chance to shine.

Pies are good, I suppose, but they’re not cake. (Or brownies, but I won’t even go there.)

My family of origin were not big pie eaters, but we always had several dessert choices after the Thanksgiving meal. At least one was chocolate, and I recall some cookies. The first time I had Thanksgiving with my then future in-laws, dessert was one pumpkin pie. I kept waiting for the rest of the desserts to appear.

I’m no fan of pumpkin pie. It’s too smooth. I’ve seen some pumpkin pies that have pralines or other candied nuts strewn over the top. I might like that, but it’s still too creamy for my taste.
Apple pie is pretty good, but not that exciting. I actually prefer apple crisp.
I do like blueberry pie, but it’s not that season, and besides, blueberry crisp is also better.

Take a look at some of these alternative-to-pie Thanksgiving desserts. Surely one of them can convince you that there’s a better way to finish the meal than pie.

Photo from Fine Cooking

Fine Cooking’s Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake is a show-stopper. I made this last year and chances are, will make it again. The spicy, rich flavor and moist layers are fabulous – then top it off with a brown butter cream cheese frosting and those candied nuts. Perfection.

Pumpkin Almond Cake has been bookmarked in the new Baked Elements book since the day I bought it. It’s a single layer cake and the icing is made with almond butter and almond milk. Looks and sounds delicious and I wouldn’t mind having some leftover to have the next morning with coffee. You can find the recipe here, but again, I urge you to buy the book.

Chocolate is a way of life at Mignardise and there’s no reason it shouldn’t be a feature of your Thanksgiving feast. I made this Glazed Chocolate Pumpkin Bundt Cake a couple of years ago, and I’m tempted to do it again. It’s even kind of healthy, if you’re measuring it against other desserts. There’s little oil, no butter, whole wheat flour, cocoa powder and buttermilk. And of course pumpkin. It’s really, really delicious.

Photo from Cooking .com

If you want something truly impressive looking, but actually quite simple, try the Pumpkin Cake Roll. If you want to get fancy, you may call it a roulade. Barefoot Contessa has an excellent recipe and here’s another one that’s even easier.

Photo from verybestbaking.com

Just for fun take a look at CakeSpy’ s Buche de Thanksgiving…love it!

Photo from seriouseats.com

One more that looks pretty interesting, but I haven’t tried it: Sweet Potato Cake with Toasted Marshmallow Frosting. The casserole was too sweet for dinner anyways – make it for dessert!

Photo from seriouseats.com

Traditionalists, go with pie if you must. But those of us who are mavericks, we’ll have our cake.

Print Friendly


  1. i made this pumpkin cheesecake: http://www.browneyedbaker.com/2010/11/01/pumpkin-cheesecake-recipe/
    the word ends in ‘cake,’ totally counts!!

  2. A lot of those recipes look delicious. We will have two kinds of pie, but my daughter is also making an unfrosted cake with thin molasses cookie/cake layers and blueberry compote in between the layers. I think she may have gotten the recipe from Better Homes and Gardens.
    Chris in NY

Please leave a comment