Ask A San Francisco Expert: Your Best Thanksgiving Pie Recipe

Ask A San Francisco Expert: Your Best Thanksgiving Pie Recipe
Thanksgiving is not only about giving thanks while devouring traditional favorites applauding fall’s harvest, but also about sharing with family and friends new tastes that become part of the yearly celebration.
renee cade headshot Ask A San Francisco Expert: Your Best Thanksgiving Pie Recipe

Chef Renee Cade (Courtesy of the Palace Hotel)

Pastry Chef Renee Cade
Palace Hotel
2 Montgomery St.
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 512-1111

The elegant Palace Hotel is a cherished San Francisco icon with historic significance. This landmark hotel remains a treasure with its timeless stained glass dome floating above the lovely Garden Court restaurant that holds everlasting memories for many people.

Executive Pastry Chef Renee Cade is the passion and talent behind the marvelous desserts at San Francisco’s legendary Palace Hotel. Born in Japan and brought up in Hawaii, Chef Cade learned to cook and appreciate new recipes as a child when cooking with her mother, an excellent cook, who encouraged her daughter to taste everything once before passing judgment – wonderful advice for young Renee.

After working in the hospitality industry in Honolulu as a concierge while attending the University of Hawaii, Renee developed a new passion for a career in the culinary arts. In 2000, Renee moved to Arizona with a goal to be a chef, and enrolled at Scottsdale Culinary Institute, Le Cordon Bleu, to study pastry and graduated in 2004. After time as Pastry Chef at several top-level hotels and resorts in Arizona, Chef Cade left for The Palace Hotel in San Francisco to lend support during an especially busy time. She fell in love with the Palace Hotel, and virtually everything in and about San Francisco. When the Executive Chef position became available at The Palace in 2012, Chef Cade joined the Palace team.

Originality and an instinctive approach to food and flavors have made Chef Cade a successful and vital part of The Palace Hotel. Her love of pairing unlikely yet exquisitely complementing ingredients creates delicious and memorable desserts. Both classic traditional and distinctive signature items are part of the Chef Renee Cade talent and style at the Palace, where she creates desserts for the 553 room hotel, its award-winning restaurants, room service, notable banquets and special events.

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Buttermochi is one of Hawaii’s favorite desserts, and many locals have their own version of Buttermochi, sometimes adding a little coconut, black sesame seeds or cocoa. The recipe uses Mochiko flour (sweet rice flour), which gives the texture a chewy quality, like mochi. Buttermochi was a real treat when Chef Cade was growing up. Based on her love of traditional pumpkin pie, Chef Cade tweaked the traditional Buttermochi recipe to retain a wonderful pumpkin pie flavor. One of Chef Cade’s favorite desserts, Buttermochi will be featured in the Palace Hotel’s grand pie display for Thanksgiving brunch.

Pumpkin Pie Buttermochi

  • 2.5 cups Mochiko Flour
  • 1.5 cups Sugar
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 cup Butter (melted)
  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 14 oz Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 29 oz Pumpkin Puree
  • 2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1 tsp Ground Cloves
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp Salt


  1. Mix all ingredients together in a mixer until well incorporated.
  2. Slowly add melted butter last until all of the ingredients are combined. Pour into mini pie/tart tins (approximately 2 1/2 inches) or a 9×12-inch pan.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 12 minutes, or 20 minutes for the 9×12.
  4. Dust a little powdered sugar over the top when cool and enjoy!

* Note: The Buttermochi can be baked a little longer if you prefer the edges to be a little crunchy.

Related: Ask A Peninsula Chef: Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Recipes

Melanie Graysmith is a writer, artist and educator based in San Francisco. She writes on adult education, art and lifestyle topics, and enjoys writing short stories and poetry. She is also a member of an independent filmmaking group. Her work can be found at

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