It’s pumpkin pie time- or is it? In a recent conversation between Executive Editor, Mary Malouf and myself (Assistant Editor, Jen Hill), we shared our opinions. The outcome: Mary prefers cake, Jen adores pie. Our conversation went further, pontificating the finer points of both types of desserts, like, should it be included as a specified preference in a dating app question? Mary laments because cake lovers have to take a back seat to pie during a traditional Thanksgiving feast. She explains, “Who asks ‘What kind of Thanksgiving cake are you bringing to dinner?'”

What makes a superior pumpkin pie?

  • a flaky, light and buttery crust
  • its filling should be flavorful, with a smooth, custard-like consistency, and the perfect balance of spice, pumpkin and sweetness

Pie à la mode? You betcha. Top it off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, crème fraîche, whipped cream, or all of the above.

What’s better than pumpkin? A slice of blackberry, that’s what.

Warm from the oven, or chilled in the fridge, either is equally wonderful. Just like leftover pizza, next day pie is the ideal breakfast food.

My personal fave, the Honey Pie (Hearth & Hill, Park City) is subtle and sweet with a tart, lime twist.

Chances are, you’re not going to bake your own this Thanksgiving (we don’t judge). However, we wish to steer you in the right direction. To assist SLmag staff chose the most traditional of seasonal pies—the pumpkin—from four local bakeries and here we share our opinions. Once we got through the pie or cake discussion and past the simpler, “But I don’t like pumpkin,” everyone had a bite of our contesting pies. Turns out, we had a tie between the top two and the second tier.

SLMag’s TOP STAFF FAVORITES: 

The Baking Hive: 3362 S. 2300 East, Salt Lake City

pumpkin pie

Balanced and a bit rustic. A staff favorite—we liked the cookie too. Garnished with a turkey-shaped sugar cookie, iced in orange. “This is a more rustic kind of pie.” “Darker, with a nice crust and thicker filling.” “This is truly traditional.” “The pie filling has more texture.” “And more clove.” 

—AND—

Tulie Bakery: 863 E. 700 South, Salt Lake City

pumpkin pie
Tulie’s pumpkin tartlets with creme fraise and pepitas

Two tarts, topped with an oval of cream and pepitas.

“This is the most beautiful entry.” “I love the crunch of pepitas on top.” The topping looks like whipped cream, but it’s thicker and tastes cultured. Is it sour cream?” “I want to eat the whole damn thing. Right now.” “This is a more sophisticated version.” “The crust is like pastry.” “This filling is milder with a more complex flavor—not just a bunch of spice dumped in.” 

—our second-tier pies tied as well—

City Cakes: 1860 S. 300 West Ste D, SLC, 801-359-2239.

City Cakes pumpkin pie (vegan)

“I can tell it’s vegan by looking at the texture.” “This filling has way too much spice.” “The  crust is dense, not flaky.” “I like the heavier texture.”

Harmon’s: multiple locations.

pumpkin pie
Harmon’s pumpkin pie could have been better.

“Oddly, not enough pumpkin spice.” “Sort of an everyman pumpkin pie—it’s very mild.” “The texture is more like just pureed pumpkin.” “This would be good topped with marshmallows and run under the broiler for a minute.”


And if you truly are bent against a serving up pie this Thanksgiving, Mary shares her favorite pumpkin cake recipe and admits it is much like a carrot cake. Good stuff indeed.

Mary Malouf’s Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9” x 13” pan.

Cake 

  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 15 oz. pureed pumpkin
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans

Mix dry ingredients. Beat eggs, add oil. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients till mixed, then stir in optional chopped pecans. Bake 30-35 minutes until it passes the toothpick test. Let cool completely.

Icing

  • 8 oz. cream cheese (softened)
  • ½ cup butter (softened)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar (approx)

Beat the butter and cheese together. Add powdered sugar, sifting it in a little at a time and beating till smooth. Spread on cake.

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