If you’re looking for a Thanksgiving pie with a kick, Bayou Bakery is your best bet. Aside from traditional sweet potato ($18) and pecan ($22), Bayou is also offering a bourbon chocolate pecan and a bacon and cayenne pecan ($24 each). I don’t usually like pecan, but I like Bayou’s. The traditional pecan is a pleasant alternative to the syrupy sweet and heavy pie that seems to end up on many a holiday table. Expect a mildly sweet pie with a soft, thick, custard-like base, caramelized pecans sweetened with brown sugar, and a tender, flaky crust. Bayou Bakery is taking orders through Tuesday night, and you must pick up your pie by Wednesday night at 9.
WoodMoor Pastry Shop
This is a no-nonsense bakery—don’t expect trendy cupcake flavors or inventive pies. But WoodMoor does the basics, and they do them well. They offer 16 flavors of pie, pumpkin loaves, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cheesecake, and five kinds of rolls. The cinnamon-topped apple pie cost me less than $9 with tax, and it was hands-down the best apple pie I’ve had in years (sorry, Mom). If you want a pie that you could pass off as homemade, this is it. They may have stopped taking orders for pies by Saturday or Sunday (though I was originally told they’d be taking orders the week of), but they plan to make pre-made desserts throughout the week that you can stop by and pick up. Best to call ahead.
Upper Crust Bakery
I like when pumpkin pie tastes like pumpkin, not like spices and sugar. Upper Crust Bakery’s pumpkin pie ($9.75) gets a thumbs-up for treating the pumpkin with respect—that’s what you taste. While the crust is nothing special, the filling is earthy and barely sweet, and would pair perfectly with some whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream. They also offer seven other pie flavors, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin tea cake, and seven kinds of rolls in half dozen and dozen quantities (the sourdough they make here is incredible). Upper Crust is taking Thanksgiving Day orders through Monday at 5 p.m. The shop is closed on Mondays, but someone will be manning the phones and taking call-in orders that day.
Upper Crust Bakery: 13488 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring MD 20904 (map); 301-879-0622
Buzz Bakery is headed by pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac, who also runs the popular Birch & Barley and ChurchKey with her husband Kyle Bailey. Buzz pie offerings for Thanksgiving include double-crust gala apple ($28), chocolate-bourbon pecan ($28), classic pumpkin ($25), Mississippi Mud ($25), sweet potato ($25), and apple crumble ($25). A couple of the pies have the “make it a pie bar” option, where, for about $10 extra, you’ll get customized accompaniments like caramel sauce, cinnamon ice cream, and candied cranberries that’ll take that pie even more over the top. I tried all but the pumpkin and apple crumble, and to be honest, most of them weren’t as flavorful or as balanced as I would have liked. The Mississippi Mud, however, was light and delicious, and I especially enjoyed the chocolate-covered crunchies on top and inside the pie. They were originally taking orders through at least Monday night, but now say you must place your order by Sunday night. Fear not, though—they’ll have pre-made pies in both shops on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday until they run out.
Baked & Wired
Though Baked & Wired’s Thanksgiving pies are the most expensive of the bunch, they’re certainly good. They’re offering 12 pie flavors at $36 each (plus an $8 refundable glass pie dish), pumpkin cheesecake (a whopping $60), pumpkin amaretto poundcake, pumpkin ginger bread, pumpkin cream cheese muffins, and pumpkin donut muffins. They had five flavors the day I went in: Very Berry, pumpkin, apple cranberry crumb, pecan, and cherry. All were noble representations of pie, and generally tasty (with perhaps apple cranberry crumb taking top honors). They’re only taking 200 pie orders for Thanksgiving, and they're likely to sell out; you can call the kitchen directly (202-333-5506) to see if they might be able to fit another one in. If they’re not able to, you should still pick up a dessert there—their cupcakes are incredible.