Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Thrill of Victory

I had a prize-winning pie at the Stafford County Fair last week. And to think, I almost didn't even take it to get judged.

I am my own worst critic (just ask my family). I made two Cherry Berry Pies last Friday evening. One, I intended to take to the Stafford County Fair's Hudson Cream Flour Bakeoff on Saturday morning.

The other, I made because my husband said, with puppy-dog eyes and with a pleading voice, "Do I get a pie, too?"

My pie crust recipe makes three pie crusts. I had just made him a blueberry pie (I've even written a post about the blueberry pie, but I've had so many other timely things to write about, I haven't posted it yet). So it's not like he's been deprived.

But I really don't make pie that often. And he's a pretty good guy. So I made another pie for him. It just wasn't the picture-perfect version.

I had stashed my extra pie crust from the blueberry pie baking day in the freezer. That one was already fluted and ready for use as a one-crust pie. But instead, I used it along with the extra pie crust from my Hudson Cream Flour Bakeoff baking session.

It's hard to seal an already-crimped crust with a new one on top. So it boiled over and the filling just didn't set up that well.

I had already experienced the agony of defeat with my bread baking endeavor for the same bakeoff (Read about that tomorrow: I had to post the Thrill of Victory first. Don't you remember Saturday afternoon and ABC's Wide World of Sports? The tagline was "The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat. But, as usual, I digress ...)

This was not the first time I had spent an evening baking for the Hudson Cream Flour Bakeoff ... and then decided nothing was "good enough" to take. I am the queen of that. In fact, I told Randy Friday night, "PLEASE remind me not to do this next year."

But, Saturday morning, I woke up, and I looked at the pie again. Looking through the strawberry-shaped vent hole, I thought to myself, "Well, it looks like it's set up."

So with trepidation, I took my pie to the fair.

Al Brensing, who IS Hudson Cream Flour, was there when I entered it.

"That looks really good," he said.

I told him, "Well, we'll see if the filling holds up when the judge cuts it."

And it did! She said that it probably was on the verge of being "overfull" and I was "teetering with disaster." But, since I averted disaster, it was a pretty good pie. She complimented the "melding" of the three berries, but also noted she could taste each one.

It was good enough to earn me second place in her eyes. It was second to Sharon, who is a champion pie baker, bread maker and all-around great cook, so that was good enough for me.

The winners: Brianna McNickle (one of my 4-H foods and nutrition kids!), 3rd with an apple pie; Sharon Allen, 1st, with a fresh apricot pie; me, 2nd; Jim Sellers, 4th with an apple cranberry pie.

The Stafford County Commissioners also get to choose their favorite pie. And they chose my Cherry Berry Pie! The pie I almost didn't bring earned me $30 bucks - $15 from the commissioners and $15 from Stafford County Flour Mills, the maker of Hudson Cream Flour (the best flour of all time, really and truly. I'm not just saying that because they paid me $15!)

Well, I earned $30 if you don't count all the money I spent enlarging and matting photos for the open class photo show ... and if you don't count all the ingredients that went into the pies.

OK. Maybe I didn't really make $30. But my prize-winning pie helped me so I didn't end up quite so far in the hole.

And, as Randy says, it's good to exhibit in the local fair. You want people to have something to look at when they come to visit.

Wait ... maybe, he just wants another pie.

Cherry Berry Pie
(From Taste of Home magazine with a few variations)
2 cups tart cherries, pitted (I used canned)
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries (I did chop them fairly fine)
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. almond extract
Dash salt
2 tbsp. butter
Pastry for double crust pie
A little milk
A little sugar

In a large bowl, combine cherries, blueberries and chopped strawberries. Add lemon juice and almond extract. Combine sugar, salt and cornstarch, mixing very well. Add to fruit mixture. Line a 9-inch pie plate with bottom crust. Fill with fruit mixture and dot with butter.

Top with remaining pastry. Trim, seal and flute edges. Use a miniature cookie cutter to make a vent hole or just put vent slashes in the top crust with a knife. With a pastry brush, lightly brush top crust with milk. Sprinkle with sugar.

Shield crust edges with foil guards. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes or until crust is light brown and filling is bubbly. Cool on wire rack. Yield: 8 servings.

Never Fail Pie Crust
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups shortening
5 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. vinegar
1 egg, beaten

Stir together flour and salt. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until well blended. Stir together water, vinegar and beaten egg. Add to flour mixture. Stir with a fork until a dough starts to form and pulls away from the side of the bowl. You may need to use your hands to help form it into a ball. Divide into thirds, as this recipe makes 3 crusts (enough for a 2-crusted pie and one single crust. I usually just put the extra crust in the freezer to use later for a one-crust pie.)



  1. Kim this looks wonderful. Congratulations! Well done, cousin. Sarah

  2. I vouch for this pie crust recipe. I love it and it works every time! Thanks for sharing it with me a few years back Kim!


  3. Kelly - I can't take credit for the pie crust recipe. I got it originally from my sister. But it truly is "never fail" - much better than any other recipe I've ever tried.