Prefer to leave the baking to the pros? With creative riffs on the classics and one-of-a-kind pies you won’t find anywhere else, these local bakers have your Thanksgiving dessert table covered.

Union Special Bread

Before he devoted his time to perfecting his own bread and baked goods recipes, Andrew Ullom spent seven years as Ashley Christensen’s executive pastry chef. Next year, he and his wife Jess will open Union Special Bread, a full-scale bakery and cafe in Raleigh, but till then, you can get a taste at pop-ups at Videri Chocolate Factory and via a stellar lineup of Thanksgiving pies. If you really want to take home bragging rights, opt for either the smooth, super-rich Videri dark milk chocolate malt, or the persimmon chess pie, made with locally grown persimmons from Burkett Farm in Cary. 

“Chess pie is usually super sweet, and I’m backing down the sugar considerably to help the persimmon shine. Native persimmon tends to be a bit astringent even when fully ripe, and I think it’s a really cool ‘texture’ to play with,” Ullom says. “The fruit puree has a ‘fruit leather’ or dried flavor to it, and I’m using yellow corn flour from Geechie Boy Mill on Edisto Island, South Carolina to brighten that up a bit.”

In addition to a pie or two, order a dozen cookies—the chocolate chip are a sure bet, but don’t sleep on the Geechie Boy Mill blue cornmeal. Visit www.unionspecialbread.com/thanksgiving-goodies to place orders by November 16.

East Durham Bake Shop

Ali Rudel earned a loyal following for her scratch-made pies and signature flaky crust long before she and her husband Ben opened East Durham Bake Shop in March. They still make every pie, galette, and croissant by hand using seasonal, local ingredients—and their Thanksgiving pies are no exception.

The sweet potato pie features slowly roasted local sweet potatoes sweetened with brown sugar and a touch of local sorghum syrup; the bourbon caramel apple pie sees a mix of North Carolina-grown apples tossed with a homemade bourbon-spiked caramel sauce, tucked beneath a beautiful lattice crust topper; and the honey bourbon pecan pie is sweetened with local wildflower honey and amped up with a splash of bourbon.

“I’m not a huge fan of overly sweet sweets and we tend to keep the sugar on the lower end in most of our pies, but both the bourbon caramel apple and the honey bourbon pecan are pies that could easily be very sweet. Adding bourbon to these pies is not to make them boozy but to create a nice depth of flavor in two pretty sweet pies,” Rudel explains.

Visit www.eastdurhambakeshop.com/thanksgiving for more information; orders can be placed in person at the shop or by calling 919-957-1090. East Durham Bake Shop will also offer a limited number of pies on pickup days at the bakery and at PopUp @ American Tobacco, where it is the featured food vendor this month.

The Country Bakeress

I didn’t think I had any room left after an afternoon of eating and tasting at Sip + Savor, until I laid eyes on The Country Bakeress’s New York cheesecake, swirled and drizzled with a Malbec reduction. Wendy Tomblin is the creative pastry whiz behind The Country Bakeress, a custom-order business known for its wedding cakes and pies, and she is also responsible for the daily desserts at Pittsboro’s Pickle Jar Cafe. Tomblin finds inspiration in heritage recipes but relishes putting her own twist on it. To wit, her Thanksgiving pie menu features a deep-dish honey and chai pumpkin pie, whose warming spices such as cardamom, allspice, and ginger go beyond basic pumpkin spice, and her all-time favorite, her mom’s Atlantic Beach pie.

“She was from Sea Level, North Carolina, which is about as coastal as you can get. I don’t remember any occasion in my childhood where her lemon pies were not the dessert of choice,” Tomblin says. “My mom always used Ritz crackers, just enough butter to hold it together, and lemon juice. I use Meyer lemons, which are a little sweeter and less acidic, and my meringue is better—sorry mom—it’s not as syrupy sweet. But for me, that one is the one—that’s Thanksgiving to me.”

Tomblin is also offering a sorghum-sweetened pecan pie, a brown sugar sweet potato pie, and a dark chocolate espresso pie. Visit www.thecountrybakeress.com to place orders up until November 18.

Jack Tar & The Colonel’s Daughter

There is perhaps no American diner dish more iconic than a slice of pie. Modern diner Jack Tar in Durham is known for its elevated takes on comfort food classics, including scratch-made desserts such as the silky chocolate chiffon pie. This season, chef-owner Gray Brooks and pastry chef Meg Kehoe pay homage to an American icon with two pies destined for modern-classic status: one made with N.C. apples and cranberries in a classic pastry crust, the other a pumpkin chiffon pie featuring N.C.-grown Indian River pumpkins in a speculoos cookie crust, wreathed with house-made cool whip. 

“I love these pies because they are the perfect way to use these really old, heirloom varieties of pumpkin and apple. The apples we use in November and December, Limbertwigs, are the same apples you would typically get in North Carolina a hundred or more years ago,” Brooks says. “They’re such a great baking apple, and they really taste like what you think the apples are supposed to taste like in an apple pie. And the Indian River pumpkins that we use for the pumpkin pie just have such an honest, naturally sweet pumpkin flavor.”

Whole pies are available for pre-order until November 18; call 919-682-5225 to order or visit www.jacktar-durham.com. Slices will be offered on Jack Tar’s menu throughout November and December (in December the pumpkin pie will make way for an eggnog chiffon pie).

laylakh@indyweek.com