October

05
October
2014

Juicy News from the Pie Contest, NM State Fair

Best of Show Pie, Fresh Raspberry & Chocolate, 2014

People – Pie Pals, specifically – have been asking, “What happened?!” 

Let’s get to the juicy details!

New challenges emerged this year.  There were 17 categories, up from the previous 16.  The Home Arts Division decided that they would eliminate “Dutch Apple” (it was rolled into the “Nontraditional Apple” category) and they added “No Sugar” and “Citrus.”  Hmmmph!  Here I thought I’d won all of the categories (which I had until they changed things) and could just bake for fun.

I worked and worked on creating a great sugar-free pie.  I’m not willing to use those weird artificial sweeteners that often have a bitter after taste, so I focused on more natural ways to make things sweet. First it was the “Nutty Buddy” Pie, based on frozen bananas whirled with unsweetened chocolate, frozen, and topped with chopped peanuts.  Analysis:  terrible texture (icy, frozen shards).  Then it was on to the “Sweet Potato Sweetie Pie,” which used apple juice boiled down to a thick syrup as the sweetener.  I was looking for a soft, custard-like texture and, instead, got what would gag a dog (if I had one).  As one of my favorite pie testers, Jon, said with such understatement, “This doesn’t measure up.”

Ha!  The final entry was an apple pie, double crust, sweetened with raisins and condensed apple cider.  It was quite lovely, thick with apples and raisins, and I really liked the flavor – probably because I’ve cut down on sugar so much in the last few years.  The judge, however, said she was a little confused by the flavor – maybe too much cinnamon?  And she didn’t get that the raisins had been soaked in rum. 

Sugar-free Apple Pie  So…it didn’t win a ribbon.  But you know what?  I enjoyed it for the next several days!

Meanwhile, they were judging the peach pie category which had an unusually large number of entries this year.  Guess who won?  A Pie Pal, Havens!    Here’s a picture of her gorgeous lattice-top peach pie, and you can find the recipe ("Stars & Moon Peach Pie) on www.piepals.com

Blue Ribbon Peach Pie

Then they judged the nontraditional apple pies.  And guess who won again?  Pie Pal Havens!  I’ll ask her to post on the web site the recipe she used for her winning Dutch applie pie along with a picture.

Finally, they got around to judging the “Fruit Pie” category.  It catches everything that doesn’t fit in one of the other fruit groupings.  That’s where I entered my raspberry chocolate creation.  And I say creation because this is a recipe I made up 25 years ago.  That was the first blue ribbon pie I ever made! 

It’s a labor of love, for sure.  The crisp crust holds a thin layer of chocolate buttercream (like dark chocolate butter frosting), then there is a double layer of fresh raspberries covered by a lush, scarlet-red raspberry glaze.  Small chocolate cream swirls around the inside edge of the crust made it all come together. 

So the two judges tasted a sliver of the raspberry pie and also someone’s pineapple pie and all of the others in this category.  As usual, I watched to see if their expressions gave away their impressions.  They did not.  I tried to remember to breathe.  They lifted each of the slices to check the bottom and see if the crust was properly browned.  They pinched off bits of crust to check for flavor and flakiness.  They tasted the fillings each one more time. 

Finally it was time to announce the winners in this category.  One judge took the microphone and started, “Third place goes to…” while the other judge lifted my pie.  My heart sank.  “No, not that one!” the announcer corrected.  Whew.  They discussed and displayed the third place and second place winners.  And then judge #2 held up my pie while judge #1 pronounced it to be “perfection.”  Yay!  A blue ribbon in the “Fruit Pie” category!  I could breathe again.

Near the end of the pie contest, all of the blue ribbon pies (one from each of the 17 categories) compete against each other for “Best of Show.”  All 6 of the judges circle up and compare notes on their favorites among those 17 pies.  They go back and forth, a little more tasting, a lot of kibitzing, and finally one of them takes the mic again.  Guess what?  They agreed on the raspberry pie!! 

Raspberry Chocolate Pie

So, there you go.  Well, actually, there we went.  We, friends and I, took the remainder of that pie outside and ate it up.  We sat at a shady picnic table on a sunny September afternoon, forks, little plates and bottles of cold water at the ready.  We also ate up most of the peach pie and the Dutch apple and some of the sugar-free apple.  Does life get any better than moments like this? 

Special thanks to Havens, Jon, Patty and Carla for making the day even sweeter than the pie.

Cheers & love from Rebecca, your Pie Pal

P.S.  The recipe will be posted soon under Scarlet Raspberry Pie.

 

 

 

 

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