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Local bakers talk classic Thanksgiving pie and share tips for amateur pie makers
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Caramel apple pie at Amanda's Farm to Fork restaurant in Lula. - photo by Scott Rogers

When Amanda Wilbanks, founder of Southern Baked Pie Co., thinks of Thanksgiving pie, her mind drifts to her grandmother. 

“She always would make me my own sweet potato pie,” Wilbanks told The Times in an interview on Tuesday, Nov. 24. “I’d ask for a smidge of filling because the crust was my favorite part.”

Her grandmother would bake the pie just how she liked it, and Wilbanks said she would eat the whole dessert by herself over the course of a few days. 

This Thanksgiving, she expects the “must haves” at her four locations — including the one off Broad Street in Gainesville — to be her caramel pecan and apple pies. While the caramel pecan pie is undoubtedly a Thanksgiving classic, the apple pie reminds her of warmth and family, she said.

Amanda Browning, owner of Amanda’s Farm to Fork in Lula, said her childhood favorite dessert for Thanksgiving is also sweet potato pie, which has proved popular with her customers during the holiday season.

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“My Aunt Audrey would make a special sweet potato pie every year,” she said. “She passed about 15 years ago, but we’ve continued to use her recipe.

At Amanda’s Farm to Fork, the owner said no Thanksgiving is complete without Rooster’s chocolate pie, made by her husband, Timothy — known by most as “Rooster.” The dessert comes in a deep-dish crust that holds cooked chocolate, which Browning said is reminiscent of pudding.

“He uses dark cocoa, and it just makes it unbelievably creamy and rich in texture,” Browning said. 

Around Thanksgiving she also prepares caramel apple pie, made with apples from Jaemor Farms, traditional buttermilk pie and chocolate pecan pie with pecans from her family’s farm. 

If she could give one piece of advice to amateur pie makers this Thanksgiving, Browning said she would tell them to not worry about making crust from scratch and simply buy a frozen version. 

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Amanda's Farm to Fork restaurant owners Amanda and Timothy "Rooster" Browning offer a selection of homemade pies for their customers at their Lula restaurant. - photo by Scott Rogers

Instead of devoting time into making dough, she recommends focusing on the filling’s flavors. 

“Cooking should be a joy, it should never be so much effort that you don’t find joy in it,” she said. “Cut out that step and work on all the goodness that you’re putting into it. It’s not the pie crust that makes it for me.”

Contrary to Browning, Wilbanks encourages new bakers to give homemade pie crust a chance. She said most of the frozen pie crusts are made with palm oil or Crisco, and don’t produce good flavors. But, making it on your own, she said “you get a much more intense buttery flavor and tender flaky crust.”

“Don’t be afraid to just try a homemade crust recipe,” she said. “If they (amateur pie makers) need any help, they can always get my cookbook (“Southern Baked: Celebrating Life with Pie”). I give away my secret pie crust recipe in the book.”

Those who want to opt out of making dessert this Thanksgiving can order a classic pie at both Southern Baked Pie and Amanda’s Farm to Fork. 

To place an order with Amanda’s Farm to Fork, call 770-540-1035.

Wilbanks said her company also delivers pies to people’s homes. To place an order, visit or call 404-263-0656.

“If you can’t be with someone, ship them some comfort and a taste of tradition and home,” she said. “They need comfort and food to enjoy this year more than ever.”

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Rooster's chocolate pie at Amanda's Farm to Fork restaurant in Lula. - photo by Scott Rogers

Easy-peasy buttermilk pie recipe from Kelsey Podo

If you’ve barely scraped the surface of pie making, like me, buttermilk pie is a Southern classic that is both easy to make and ridiculously scrumptious. This method is a combination of ideas I’ve picked up from both my mom and various collected buttermilk pie recipes. Don’t stress about juggling pie with all your other Thanksgiving dishes because you now have this simple and tasty buttermilk pie recipe. You’re welcome. 

Here’s what you’ll need for your easy-peasy buttermilk pie:

  • 3 eggs

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened  

  • 1 cup of buttermilk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1 seed of nutmeg (or enough ground nutmeg to lightly dust the pie)

  • 1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 

  2. Add eggs, sugar, flour and butter in a large bowl and mix well. 

  3. Stir or whisk in the lemon juice, vanilla extract and buttermilk in the same bowl.

  4. Pour your mixed ingredients into the pie shell. Gently shake the sides to make sure it’s level.

  5. Lightly dust the top of your pie with freshly grated nutmeg. Adding ground nutmeg that comes in a shaker works too. 

  6. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until it sets and turns golden brown. 

  7. Pro tip from my mom: Add a few decorative squirts of whipped cream once the pie has cooled a little.

For those who want to take their pie to the next level and aren’t worried about time, there are plenty of fantastic crust recipes available online. I’d recommend looking up those from Bon Appétit or Serious Eats.

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Sweet potato pie at Amanda's Farm to Fork restaurant in Lula. - photo by Scott Rogers
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