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But First, Dessert: Holiday Baking with Amanda Wilbanks

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But First, Dessert: Holiday Baking with Amanda Wilbanks
Written by Amanda Dalton Wilbanks | Photos by Kathryn McCrary

But First, Dessert

Tapping the women in her family for inspiration, Southern Baked Pie Company founder Amanda Dalton Wilbanks bakes up sweets for the holidays

I fell in love with baking at a young age. Standing on a chair, I would watch my mother as she made our dinner and dessert from scratch—while testing me on spelling words from across the bar. She could do it all, and with such grace. She never shied away from letting me help in the kitchen. I was expected to learn how to cook and bake so that one day I could pass along the recipes and traditions to my family. But with every layer of cake she had me ice and pie dough she let me roll out, she was actually laying the foundation for my future career.

Fast forward thirty-two years and I’m now a professional baker. I opened my first pie shop, Southern Baked Pie Company, in Gainesville, Georgia, in 2012. Three more bakeries and a growing e-commerce business later, I spend the majority of December at my bakery into the wee hours of the morning. But I still keep my mother’s tradition of taking off the day before Christmas Eve to bake with my children. And now, Mom comes to my house and helps my two oldest, Austin and Dalton, make their favorite cardamom cookies. My mother-in-law, Sandy, recently joined our crazy holiday baking bonanza too. She busies herself with making raspberry bars, my husband’s favorite dessert. (One is never enough; I always crave two with my Christmas morning coffee.)

My grandmother, Betty, always insisted we have a touch of citrus on the holiday table, which meant ambrosia salad. I’ve not abandoned my roots—ambrosia is a must on our Christmas menu—but have added mom’s orange meringue pie to the dessert round-up. Also on the dessert sideboard this Christmas: my cranberry-pear pie—Southern Baked’s top-seller during the holidays—and my mother-in-law’s sticky toffee pudding that I couldn’t resist adapting into a pie. After all, a holiday without an abundance of pie would simply be a meeting.

Don’t want to make your own holiday showstopper? Order one from Southern Baked Pie Company and have it delivered right to your door.

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Raspberry Bars

Wilbanks tops raspberry bars with meringue for a festive crunch.

Cardamom Butter Cookies

A powdered sugar glaze adds a pop of sweetness to these spice cookies.

Southern Baked Pie Dough

The trick to making a pie crust is using cold ingredients. Wilbanks even chills her flour, salt, and sugar. (And fluting is easier than you think.)

Sticky Toffee Pudding Pie with Rum Glaze

Wilbanks turns classic sticky toffee pudding into pie.

Cranberry-Pear Pie

Your holiday showstopper.

Orange Meringue Pie

Orange is the new lemon.