If you want to make a splash on Thanksgiving day, don't show up to the annual potluck with the same old store-bought pumpkin pie and a canister of whipped cream.
Instead, bring a yummy homemade dessert that will stand out from the crowd and showcase all the delicious fruits of autumn, like crisp, fall apples and succulent pears.
"Everybody's coming to the potluck with Aunt Betsy's casserole and a store-bought pie," said Moaya Scheiman, co-owner of Crisp Bakeshop in Sonoma with his wife, Andrea Koweek. "We're offering something different."
Along with an array of seasonal cakes for the holidays, Crisp is baking up batches of easy, free-form galettes made in the autumnal flavors of sweet potato and marshmallow, pear and hazelnut.
Galettes are ideal for home cooks struggling to survive during the busy holiday season because the free-form crust is easier to shape than a regular pie crust.
"Galettes are easy to transport," Koweek said. "And you don't have to worry about leaving a pie plate behind."
For the holidays, the shop is also offering apple pies made with hard cider and Calvados, an apple brandy from France.
"With the hard cider, it's almost like adding vinegar, which brings the sweetness up," Scheiman said. "And the Calvados gives it a deep, rich taste and an adult flavor."
The couple expects Crisp to be extremely busy this week, with a raft of customers stopping by today to pick up their orders. But the bakeshop will close on Thanksgiving so that the couple can host their own potluck dinner at the storefront.
"We're doing a pop-up potluck for orphans," Scheiman said. "There will be about 10 workers and friends who don't have families close by."
Scheiman plans to start a new tradition this year by serving an authentic "turducken" from Louisiana. For the uninitiated, that's a turkey stuffed with a duck that's stuffed with a chicken. Each meat has a layer of seafood jambalaya around it.
Meanwhile, each guest is going to bring a favorite Thanksgiving dish from his or her own family.
At his daughter's request, Scheiman will make wild rice and corn dressing. Meanwhile, Koweek's tradition demands some kind of bread stuffing and the traditional sweet potatoes and marshmallow casserole.
"We're both New Yorkers, and both Jewish, but our Thanksgiving table is completely different," Scheiman said. "Thanksgiving is the one holiday that we celebrate. Every other holiday we work."
Since Crisp Bakeshop opened last April, the couple have been working hard to create a new identity for the artisan, small-batch bakery. Before opening, they gutted the storefront and completely renovated it.
"In urban patois, crisp means fresh and clean," Scheiman said. "We wanted it to be urban and Wine Country at the same time."
Koweek, who graduated in the pastry program at the California Culinary Academy of San Francisco, brings a broad range of experience to the bakery.
In Sonoma, she managed Ramekins cooking school and ran the catering program for The Girl & the Fig. In Napa, she cooked at a bed-and-breakfast and served as chef Thomas Keller's personal assistant.
Scheiman, who has lived all over the world as a journalist and filmmaker, was the chef/owner of Tamal, a Latin American wine bar in San Francisco. He brings a restaurant chef's perspective to the bakeshop.