pie, pie, pie

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Last week, I competed in the 6th Annual Jo Beers Pie Contest and Auction, aka the Johnson County Fair Pie Contest. I giggle every time I think of competing in the pie contest. Besides the stress of baking a beautiful, delicious pie (which was even more like tiring than stressful) and entering my pie on time, there was no stress involved in the pie contest. When I think of competing, I think of cross country and track meets; these competitions most definitely evoked stress. Anyway, this pie contest is unique because at the conclusion of the competition, the pies are auctioned off in silent and live auctions. The money raised in the auctions is divided between two local organizations; one of the organizations uses its money to fund two high school scholarships. My pie was in the live auction, and it sold for not $10, not $20, not even $50, but $140. I was amazed at its selling price, but  one pie was sold for $1,500! There are truly benevolent, charitable people in my community, and I am happy, even honored, to have contributed to the two local organizations. In a distant way, I helped two high school students pursue their dreams, and this made the wearying process of pie baking totally worth it.

I entered a traditional apple pie, which I called “Bucket List Apple Pie.” Because of my age, I was in the Youth Division. At first, even though I only participated in the pie contest for fun, I was glad about competing in the Youth Division because I would not have to compete against the ladies who had been baking pies for years, for decades. But, then I realized that most of the contestants in the Youth Division more than likely baked their pies with the same type of ladies. In the end, I received Third Place in the Youth Apple Division. Like I said above, because I only took part in the pie contest to have fun, I was (am) content with my award. I was happy with the filling and crust of my pie, but I need to practice finishing a pie! Practicing will have to wait, though, because I am pie-baking-out (I made four pies in preparation for the pie contest!).

Bucket List Apple Pie

Yields: One 9” pie

  • 1 pound sweet apples, such as Braeburn or McIntosh, peeled, cored, and sliced into ~1/4” slices
  • 3/4 pound tart apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and sliced into ~1/4” slices
  • 3/4  cup white sugar + extra for sprinkling
  • 3/4 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • Pie crust (Butter and Shortening Pie Crust)
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  1. Place a rimmed baking sheet on an oven rack in the lowest position. Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together apples, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, flour, cinnamon, and salt until apples are well coated. Set aside.
  3. Roll out bottom pie crust. Gently place crust in 9” pie pan, and press crust into sides of pan. Refrigerate while top crust is rolled out.
  4. Once top crust is rolled out, remove bottom crust from refrigerator, and spoon apple mixture onto bottom crust. Loosely place top crust over apples and bottom crust.
  5. Trim off excess crust.* Press bottom and top crusts together, so there are no openings between crusts. Crimp edges with fingers or fork.
  6. Brush top crust with egg white, sprinkle edges with sugar, and cut a few vent slits in top crust.
  7. Place pie on baking sheet in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake for 25 minutes, or until top crust is lightly golden brown.
  8. Reduce temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until top crust is a deeper golden brown and juices are bubbling.
  9. Remove pie from oven, and allow to cool before serving.

*If desired, make Cinnamon and Sugar “Pie Crusts” with excess crust: sprinkle excess crust with sugar and cinnamon, and bake in oven, along with pie, for approximately 15 minutes or until very lightly golden brown and crispy.

Butter and Shortening Pie Crust

Yields: Enough crust for one double-crust 9” pie

  • 2 1/2  cups all-purpose flour + extra for rolling out dough
  • 2 1/2   Tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/4  teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup salted butter, cut into small squares and chilled
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening, cut into small squares and chilled (I use Spectrum Organic Shortening, which is Trans-fat-free.)
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt.
  2. Add butter and shortening to flour mixture, and gently toss so butter and shortening are lightly coated with mixture.
  3. Using a pastry cutter, cut butter and shortening into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse sand.
  4. Add ice water to mixture, beginning with 5 Tablespoons. Using hands, work mixture until dough just forms, adding more water 1 Tablespoon at a time, if needed.
  5. Separate dough into two equal pieces, and mold each piece into a small disk. Wrap disks in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for one hour.
  6. Before rolling out dough, allow it to slightly soften at room temperature, so it is easier to work with.
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