Thanksgiving dinner might be all about the turkey, but Thanksgiving dessert is all about the pie.
Just ask the folks at Hall’s Apple Farm in Lockport — they bake up about a thousand pies each year for Thanksgiving tables.
Bob Hall is the fourth generation of the Hall family to run the farm and he’s been making pies for just about as long as he can remember.
Hall, along with Tina Goodridge and part-timer Cindy Sanford, make every one of the pies by hand, and they make it look — well — as easy as pie.
There are three varieties of apple pies sold at the market: Regular, apple crumb and apple caramel, and all are made from apples grown right on the farm and peeled one-by-one on a hand-cranked apple peeler in the back room.
Right now, Hall is making the pies with Cortlands, but he said that throughout the season, different varieties of apples are used.
Hall also tries to buy fruit for the other pies locally when possible. The cherries and peaches come from Singer Farms in Appleton.
On the days leading up to Thanksgiving, pie-making is almost a 24-hour operation, with one person making the crust, and another filling and topping the pies.
Hall and Goodridge can complete about 200 pies a day, working on six pies at a time.
Although Goodridge said she always enjoyed baking, she has perfected her pie-making skills since she started working at Hall’s.
“This will be my third Thanksgiving here. I always baked at home, but when I came here, Bob taught me just about everything about making pies,” Goodridge said.
What’s the secret to a good pie crust? Crisco, according to Hall.
“If you want a good pie crust recipe, just look at the Crisco can. But that doesn’t mean you can do it right. If you overwork it, it will be tough. When it comes to making pie crust, you can either do it or you can’t,” he said.
Hall can roll out a crust in less than a minute, with only five or six passes of a pastry-cloth-covered rolling pin.
The most popular Thanksgiving pies sold at Hall’s are pumpkin and apple, closely followed by chocolate cream. The least popular is mincemeat. More than 20 varieties of pies are available.
Pies are also popular at Christmas, but not nearly as much. Hall sells about half as many pies for Christmas as he does at Thanksgiving, and cherry takes over for pumpkin — “People like to have something red for Christmas,” he said.
Most people pre-order their pies, but the store is open until 6 p.m. the day before Thanksgiving. Pies are sold already baked or frozen and ready to be baked at home.
“On Thanksgiving, people like to feel like everything is homemade. You can smell the turkey and you can smell the pie baking,” Hall explained.