Elena Rosemond-Hoerr, the North Carolina-based food blogger behind Biscuits and Such, shares her fall-favorite cast iron skillet dessert.
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Apple Gouda Hand Pies Blog
Credit: Biscuits & Such

This weekend my family is coming to Wilmington, traveling from places as far flung as Ireland and New Orleans, for a week of Thanksgiving fun. Three of my five siblings (and their families) will be in town, plus my parents, cousins, aunts, and uncles. We'll be baking biscuits, roasting oysters, watching toddlers wrestle, playing football in the park (the "we" on that one is pretty loose), toasting to new engagements, and enjoying the experience and madness of being together.

The pressure of helping to host Thanksgiving in a house where the paint is still drying (that's only kind of a joke) has been a great motivator in getting things done. Last week, we stripped the wallpaper off of the walls in another room, primed and painted, hung quarter round over the kitchen cabinets, painted the trim and installed seven doors and door frames, and hung a serious amount of art all over the house. What is it about getting art on the walls that makes it feel like YOUR HOUSE all of the sudden? We've almost reached the point where I won't be embarrassed to host my sister's engagement party (assuming everyone has enough Champagne to not look at the trim too closely).

One of my favorite events of the holidays is our family White Elephant gift exchange. We've honed the rules and routine over the course of a few decades and it's quite the event. The stakes are high, and deciding what gifts to add every year comes with a lot of pressure—nobody wants to gift the dud. Thankfully this year I had a new cookbook published and (family spoiler ahead!) I'll be including a copy in one of our gifts.

WATCH: Apple-Bourbon Pie

This recipe from The Southern Cast Iron Cookbook will also have a place in our holiday extravaganza, most likely on the Thanksgiving table itself. Apple pies with a little Gouda baked into the crust, baked in a cast iron biscuit pan for the optimal crispy edges, are one of my favorite autumnal desserts. They'll be the first dessert baked in my new kitchen, and I can't think of a better occasion for its grand debut.

Elena Rosemond-Hoerr is a Southern food writer, photographer, and cookbook author based in Wilmington, North Carolina.