Fireman Derek's Thanksgiving Pies and How to Make the Perfect Crust

With a little over a week left before Thanksgiving, you ought to have a pie plan in mind. Namely, are you going to make your own, or are you going to trust the professionals? If it's the latter, you can't go wrong with one of Derek Kaplan's creations.

Kaplan is the man behind Fireman Derek's World-Famous Pies, a pie shop and café that opened in Wynwood this past July. A full-time firefighter for the City of Miami, Kaplan has been baking since he was 15 years old. For this turkey holiday, he's whipping up pumpkin pie, apple pie, pecan and chocolate pecan pie, and pumpkin cheesecake. If you don't want to leave dessert to chance, place your order before Sunday, November 23.

See also: Thanksgiving 2014: Guide to Restaurant Dinners in Miami

If you miss the cut-off date for advance orders, it will be first-come, first-serve says Kaplan. The 9-inch pies are for 6-8 people and cost $25-30, while the cheesecakes are for 10-12 and cost $50. With the exception of pumpkin, all of the other Thanksgiving pies are available at different times throughout the year. The two most in-demand flavors are Key lime and crack pie.

If you are going to make your own pie at home, the fireman does have a tip to ensure a perfect crust. "You wanna make sure you have enough moisture whether you use butter or shortening, or a combination. You're not making a cracker. You want something that's supposed to be moist and flakey so don't over flour it. You're not making pizza dough."

At the moment, all of Fireman Derek's sweets, which also include cookies, brownies and croissants are made on site at the retail space, but Kaplan is looking for a location to open a commissary. That way he can expand seating at the Wynwood venue and hopefully open a second store/café.

Kaplan told us he now has a beer and wine permit to go along with the quiches and pot pies currently offered. And in the near future he's planning on serving sandwiches, salads and soups, and to have outdoor seating. But despite all the growth, the pie maestro's adamant about keeping his spaces small and ensuring there's always a homey feel.

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Valeria Nekhim was born in the Ukraine and raised in Montreal. She has lived in Manhattan and Miami. Her favorite part of food writing is learning the stories of chefs and restaurateurs.