Whether you’re team pumpkin or team pecan, pie is by and large a sure bet for Thanksgiving dessert. It’s classic, it’s delicious, and in slab pie form, it feeds a whole crowd of family or Friendsgiving folks.
pies can be a little nerve-wracking to assemble, especially if you’re not much of a baker to begin with. The pressure of rolling out an even circle of dough and getting it to fit neatly in the pie plate without slumping or tearing, not to mention crimping the edges or—cue cold sweats—weaving a lattice top for the picture-perfect finishing touch…it has the potential to overwhelm all but the most professional pie makers.Traditional
Plus, your average pie only feeds about eight to 10 people, unless they’re feeling especially demure (but even then, what host or hostess ever actually listens to those cries of “Really, just a tiny slice for me, like just a sliver”?).
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Slab Pies: It’s About More Than Size
These vast pies are so big, you can line up multiple fillings in one slab, though that might defeat the purpose of making it easier on yourself. Then again, it’s totally in line with the general excess of the holidays, a good way to ensure everyone gets the flavors they like, and a nice compromise between a relatively puny round pie and the dessert answer to turducken, the Piecaken.
Since the holidays are usually prime time for feeding crowds, the large-scale format comes in handy on dessert tables from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve. (They’re also great for bake sales, potlucks, company picnics, and family reunions.)
But slab pies also strike a balance between a certain folksiness and the impressiveness inherent in anything that’s handmade for other people, in the same way that bar cookies are less effort yet no less appreciated than their drop-and-bake brethren, and sheet cakes are super simple yet so wonderfully generous. They’re more casual, but more communal too.
Since you do still have to roll out crust, whether the dough is homemade or purchased, assembling a slab pie may not technically be all that easier than making a standard round version, but it feels so much more forgiving. There’s definitely no need to stress about perfect circles. If cracks do form, they’re easier to conceal. And no one’s going to expect a dessert with “slab” in the name to look utterly polished anyway, although you certainly can get as fancy as you’d like to.
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How to Top a Slab Pie
If you’re comfortable with weaving pastry, the classic lattice look is lovely:
But some of the simplest slab options, other than eschewing any embellishment at all, are using a crumb crust or streusel topping.
For a more traditional double-crust look, you can leave a little overhang on the bottom layer of dough so you’ll be able to fold it up over the sides of the top layer for an easy but appealing tucked-in look (think galette), or just crimp the top and bottom margins together with a fork or your fingers.
For something a little more advanced, you can use cookie cutters to stamp out shapes of any sort in the top crust before transferring it to the pan, including alphabet cutters to send a message:
Or, invert that technique and use the cut-out letters or shapes themselves to top the pie. If you need to go the extra mile (emphasis on the extra), you can go with cinnamon swirl dough that bakes up crisp like palmiers and inspires true awe:
But remember, slab pies by their very nature are unpretentious and need no gussying up to be enjoyed.
How to Make Any Pie Recipe Into a Slab Pie
True to their easygoing nature, they’re also highly adaptable—you can make pretty much any pie you want in the slab format. The basic formula for scaling up is 2 batches of standard double-crust pie dough plus 1 1/2 batches (or about 7 to 8 cups) of your preferred pie filling, although non-fruit fillings might scale a bit differently. And this formula assumes you want a double-crust slab pie; if you don’t, just double-check your starting pie dough recipe and adjust the ingredients accordingly:
1 batch standard single-crust pie dough = not enough for a slab pie
1 batch standard double-crust pie dough = 1 single-crust slab pie
2 batches standard single-crust pie dough = 1 single-crust slab pie
2 batches standard double-crust pie dough = 1 double-crust slab pie
Also be aware that in general, since slab pies are broader and flatter, there will be a lower filling-to-crust ratio overall, something to keep in mind when choosing your topping.
If you do start your slab using a standard pie dough recipe, in addition to increasing the ingredients to suit your needs if necessary, don’t form the dough into disks before chilling them, as usually directed. Instead, pat them into rectangles, since that’s the shape you’ll be going for when it’s time to roll them out.
Slab Pie Recipes
When it comes to slab pies, there’s almost nothing they can’t do. So consider setting aside your rather prim pie plate this Thanksgiving and baking one of these capable crowd-pleasers instead. Here are some renditions especially suited to fall and winter entertaining.
There are lots of different pumpkin slab pies out there: low carb with cardamom candied pecans for a keto Thanksgiving, lightened up with a touch of cream cheese and decorated with little pastry pumpkins, marbled pumpkin-cheesecake slabs…but this one hews more closely to the classic pumpkin pie, just writ large (and rectangular). Get the Pumpkin Slab Pie recipe.
This Pecan Slab Pie recipe is another classic spun into a slab, with a touch of bourbon in the filling. It uses pre-made pie crust for ease, but if you want to go the homemade route, try this Chocolate Pecan Slab Pie recipe with a flaky buttermilk dough.
The classic pumpkin pie—in slab form, of course—gets another little twist with a chocolate cookie crust and cinnamon-flecked whipped cream. Chocolate shavings on top don’t hurt, either. Get the Chocolate Pumpkin Slab Pie recipe.
Apple slab pies are wonderful, whether you add maple icing, mix in ginger, rum, and cranberries, or go with caramel and crumb topping. If you’d rather keep it classic, this version adds a touch of cinnamon and a sugar glaze (replace the water with apple cider or juice for extra flavor). Get the Apple Slab Pie recipe.
While cherry pies may speak of summer, adding tart, seasonally appropriate cranberries to the filling is a great option for Thanksgiving if you want to try something new (or at least augment the classic array of desserts on offer). Get the Cranberry Cherry Slab Pie recipe.
Pears and apples marry beautifully with cinnamon and nutmeg in this pastry leaf-bedecked Apple Pear Slab Pie recipe. (But if you want to branch out a bit, try a Maple Pear Slab Pie with both fresh and crystallized ginger, or a Caramelized Pear and Sage Slab Pie.)
Pumpkin, pecan, and seasonal fruits might be the more obvious choices for Thanksgiving pies, but it’s never a bad time for chocolate. This gorgeous slab of French silk pie-style creamy cocoa pudding topped with whipped cream is dreamy. Get the French Silk Slab Pie recipe.
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