Category Archives: pie

Maira Kalman's Painting of Cherry Pie

Maira Kalman’s New York Times Pursuit of Happiness Blog is always a delight.

“Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie” by Jay & The Techniques

My new favorite song.

Pie Interview: Ruth Hanrahan, Director of the Pie Town, New Mexico Pie Festival

Ruth Hanrahan, 75, lives in Pie Town, New Mexico, where she serves as director the annual Pie Festival. She has personally garnered seven pie contest ribbons.

Ruth Hanrahan

Gina: Why do you love pie?

Ruth: Before we moved to Pie Town [from Boulder, Colorado], my specialty was gourmet cakes. I had a catering business and a small upscale restaurant. When we moved to Pie Town I had to switch to making pies.

Gina: What is your fondest pie memory?

Ruth: When in 2002, the second time I had entered the pie contest, I won Grand Champion with my Raisin Nut Pie.

Gina: What is your favorite kind of pie?

Ruth: Whichever fruit is in season, otherwise I love trying new pies of any kind.

Ruth baking.

Gina: What is the oddest pie you’ve made or seen, or heard about?

Ruth: The oddest pie I have made is an Apple, Green Chili, Piñon Nut Pie. I won second place in 2005.

Gina: Please tell me about your experiences participating in and judging pie contest.

Ruth: I have never judged any pies–just most years entering the pie contest in the Pie Town Festival. [It’s about] the thrill of anticipation and the hope to win, and cheering for your friends as well.

Gina: Do you have any competition tips?

Ruth: Test the pie you are considering to enter on your friends and family. Make sure it looks as good it will taste.

Gina: What criteria should pie judges consider? Is there a proper technique to tasting a pie?

Ruth: You judge the all over appearance, crust, and taste. The top of the crust should be golden brown, flaky, crisp eating, cut easily with a fork, hold shape, and not be runny. It should have a pleasant flavor, and the bottom crust should not be soggy.

Gina: What is the secret to a perfect crust?

Ruth: The secret to a perfect crust is not to work the dough too much. The less you fool with it, the more flaky it will be. The more you fiddle with the dough, the tougher it will be.

Gina: Do you think great bakers are born?

Ruth: First of all, you need to like what you’re doing. If you like to cook and bake anyway, you have a good start. Don’t make it a chore, have patience, and enjoy yourself. I do believe that you are born with a tendency towards certain things and a feeling to follow, like being a doctor or a lawyer–why not a wonderful baker?

Gina: Why does pie matter today?

Ruth: The smell of a pie baking brings back memories of times of the past. Pie baking is something you can do with your kids. Company always love pie for dessert. On holidays, you always have to have pie. You make points with your husband when you make his favorite pie. To make it very simple, pie has always mattered, and always will!

Pie Champ!

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan Sing "Petootie Pie"

This song is going on my soundtrack for pie contests playlist.

Do You Need Pie Therapy?

Road sign snapped earlier this summer on my way to my mother-in-law's house in Connecticut.

Pie Interview: Queen Esther on Winning the Roaring 20s Jazz Age Lawn Party Pie Contest, Learning to Bake on a Suzy Homemaker Easy-Bake Oven, Pie Crust as Waterloo, and the Connection Between Pie and Creativity

My friend Katherine Myers posted as her Facebook status the other day about how she loves it when procrastination works in her favor. This happens so often to me that I’ve come to believe that it’s somehow key to my creative process—that if I marinate a project long enough, when the time finally comes for me to really deal with it, I’ll have what I need and often as not, it turns out what I need wasn’t available during that earlier time period when I’d have been writing in a less adrenaline-driven sort of way.

The piece of the pie puzzle that I’d been pondering, but not acting on, was the contacting of pie contest winners to secure permission to include their recipes in my Pie Contest in a Box, which is due to my Andrews McMeel editor in a couple of weeks. I’d stumbled on many promising candidates during the course of my research, but there were still a few open slots. On a whim, I searched “pie contest” on Twitter and this message popped up:

“@queenesther I won the pie contest – “best savory” – at the roaring 20s jazz age lawn party today! *applewood smoked bacon apple pie* – yaaaay!
12:21 AM Aug 29th via web from Hamilton Heights, New York

This was every which way fortuitous, as I needed another savory pie recipe and this one sounded great and the Roaring 20s Jazz Age Lawn Party on New York’s Governors Island is totally fun and represents the new face of pie contests. Then I clicked on Queen Esther’s Twitter profile, where she describes herself as: “Negropolitan. Artist. Hillwilliamette. Dazzling urbanite.” From an editorial standpoint, we’re talking gift from God. She was just what I needed to balance the Iowa State Fair peach pie contest winner, the California vegan gluten-free apple pie champ, and the Georgia rancher with his blue ribbon chicken pie.

Queen Esther is a singer and actress, in addition to being a prize-winning baker and, as it turns out, a phenomenal writer. Here is her pie interview. You’ll have to buy the kit next spring to see her recipe.

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Queen Esther performing at the Harlem International Jazz Festival, Apollo Theater, 2008.

Gina: How many pie contests have you entered and won?

Queen Esther: This is the first pie contest I’ve ever entered, and it’s the first one that I’ve ever won. I love to cook and bake, and entering contests is something I’ve always wanted to do – just for the fun of it.

Gina: What’s the scene like at the Roaring 20s Jazz Age Lawn Party? Did you go in costume?

Queen Esther at the 2010 Roaring 20s Jazz Age Lawn Party. Photo by Josh Lowenthal.

Queen Esther: The scene at The Roaring 20s Jazz Age Lawn Party is kind of like stepping into an ever-expanding time warp. The more you walk around, the more you take in, the more you see and do and explore, the further down the rabbit hole you fall, until it feels as though it really is 1920-something, and the people who aren’t dressed to the nines are the ones who eventually come off as though they’re totally out of place. It’s surreal – in part because there are so many participants who take it seriously.

Think of it. You, with your garters and stockings, your brightly colored paper parasol, your drop waist linen dress, your Marcellus waves in your hair, your vintage jewelry. You know quite a few of the tea dances and you take to the dance floor as often as you are asked to dance. The dress you are wearing is older than your grandmother. And the guy that you’re with, the one that’s wearing an impeccable seersucker suit and a straw hat tilted just so, you’re the ones who are in step with the now. At least that’s the way it feels when you’re surrounded by so many others who are dressed this way.

By the way: if you’re anything like me, it’s not a costume at all. It’s simply the clothes in your closet.

And that’s not all that’s happening at that party, that’s not the only element in the mix. There are vintage cars, vintage stores set up with all kinds of lovely things for sale, there’s a bake sale, tug-of-war contests, a hat parade, a bathing beauties contest, rumble seat rides, lots to eat and drink, dance lessons, a floor show, and a victrola that plays when the bands do not. And the bands play and play and play. There’s a big band and a smaller combo, all of the tunes faithfully in keeping with the original arrangements. Imagine all those songs you’ve heard in the confines of your little speakers, coming at you, live. It’s quite overwhelming, really.

Those picnicking hipsters who are gawking at you – they seem so unrefined, so ill-mannered, so clumsy, so…ordinary. Eventually, they recede into the backdrop and everything vintage comes into even sharper focus than before. It’s kind of trippy and so far for me, it’s never been a disappointment.

What did I wear? It was a vibrantly dark blue rayon dress with an ecru/ivory lace doily of a collar and a slightly a-line shape. I admit, it was more early 1930s than 1920s. The truth is, my body is anything but androgynous and I think it’s rather pedestrian to show up looking like a flapper. The 1920s was so much more than that. You’d be surprised to know how much research it takes to pull all the elements together and get the details right. I was recently cast as a jazz dancer in an episode of the HBO series Boardwalk Empire, and sometimes I do it up and go to 1920s soirees. I’m also developing a one-person musical about performer-showstopper/songwriter (and nurse!) Alberta Hunter that delves heavily into her early years in cabaret, so I’m beginning to explore the options.

Gina: Do you have any tips for pie contest competitors?

Queen Esther: Only one – be yourself. Make it up as you go along, and more of you will be in what you create than you’d dare to think.

Gina: What do you think makes the difference between a good pie and a great one?

Queen Esther: Individuality and a flair for the bold. Taking a risk and coming up with something that’s completely unexpected. Doing something different with something traditional.

Queen Esther with Michael Ingbar, an infamous presence on the NYC swing scene -- and one of the pie judges that day. Photo by Mindy Haywood.

Gina: Please tell me about your artistic career and baking history. Why do you love pie?

Queen Esther: I grew up singing in the sanctified church as the middle child and the only daughter in the semi-rural environs of the Deep South, with six brothers, a four-octave range and an IQ that set me firmly in the gifted program for creative writing as a five year old. After studying and singing classical music in a prestigious performing arts high school in Atlanta, I drenched myself in the live music/blues scene in Austin, TX, thanks to an NFA/ARTS theater scholarship. Eventually, I relocated to New York City, finished a BA in Screenwriting from The New School, and flourished in the downtown alt-music/alt-theater scene.

My work as a vocalist, lyricist, songwriter and actor/solo performer and playwright led to creative collaborations in neo-vaudeville, alternative theater, various alt-rock configurations, (neo) swing bands, trip hop DJs, spoken word performances, jazz combos, jam bands, various blues configurations, original Off Broadway plays and musicals, experimental music/art noise and performance art.

I was raised in a traditional Southern household  – with a large, loving, extended family in Charleston, SC that included grandparents and great-grandparents –  so I learned how to cook and bake at an early age. I distinctly remember that I had a Suzy Homemaker Easy-Bake Oven when I was a tot. Unbelievable but true –it baked little cakes with a light bulb. You could look through the tiny oven door and watch the cake rise and everything. And there was icing! I can remember making my daddy a cake. It looked like a miniature hockey puck. And he ate it! He said it was delicious – and believe me, he wouldn’t have if it weren’t true.

By the time I was 10, I was running the kitchen to my entire immediate family’s watchful and overly critical satisfaction – especially my daddy, who would sometimes stand over me and watch me do my thing.

My mother made the best cobblers, dumplings, sweet potato pies and biscuits –bar none. I distinctly remember all of us kids – and quite a few that we played with in the neighborhood – habitually bringing her mounds of blackberries that we would usually pick and eat in the woods after she once off-handedly remarked that if we brought them to her, she’d make something good. And she did. They were the absolute best blackberry dumplings I’ve ever had, then or now. It was so effortless, so delicious, with very simple basic ingredients.

And therein lies my very personal problem with pie crust.

My mother couldn’t tell me exactly how much of anything to use when she made pie crust because she never measured anything. She would throw shortening, flour and water in a bowl and the next thing I knew, she was rolling the dough onto that flour dusted kitchen table. My grandmother, on the other hand, wouldn’t tell me how to make pie crust. Even now, whenever I ask, she just throws her head back and waves me off, with a short high laugh. She declares that if they had Pet-Ritz when she was a kid, she wouldn’t know how to make it now. As far as she’s concerned, I should stick to the Pillsbury pie crust that rolls out, right into the pie pan ready-made, and call it a day.

But I can’t. I have to make everything from scratch. It’s my thing. Pie crust, as it turns out, is my Waterloo.

Gina: Do you think there’s any connection between your singing and your baking?

Queen Esther: Absolutely.

Baking pie is a great escape. It’s a lovely way to get lost in my own home. When I bake, something clicks and I stop thinking – and that’s when real creativity tends to emerge. I usually leave the kitchen fortified with strong ideas for some project I’m working on that’s already underway.  Or bits and pieces of lyrics. Or a melody that’s sticking in my head. Baking pie is a great way to keep those creative juices flowing.

Queen Esther

I couldn’t possibly eat everything I bake, so I’ve developed this bad habit of foisting what I come up with on so many beautiful people in my life because frankly, there’s no way I could possibly stay this size if I didn’t.  So far, I haven’t gotten any complaints. And sharing everything keeps my pie baking skills in great form.

Baking pie can also be a handy distraction.

On the Saturday that I went to the lawn party on Governor’s Island, I had an audition in midtown early in the afternoon for an upcoming Broadway show – the lead role for the musical Sister Act.  There I was on the subway, dressed head to toe in vintage clothing surrounded by sunburnt tourists of every ilk, with fresh hot pie in my lap. Now that was quite a picture.

The problem was that my pie had to be on the judge’s table by 3pm. The audition started at 1pm. With the slower weekend subway schedule and a boat ride to get to the island – albeit a short one –  it could take an hour to get there. And there was more. When I got to the audition before 1pm, the place was packed.  I almost left when I saw someone walking around with the number 200 – but that’s the number they started with, so I stayed. My number? 239.  The question floated over my head all day, in neon: Would I make it?

Surprisingly, I did – with a little help from my friend Mindy.

After a flurry of text messages, phone calls and hand-wringing, Mindy swept into the audition like a superhero, and as she changed into her vintage attire in the restroom, she reassured me repeatedly that she would get that pie to the island on time. Believe it or not, I finally calmed down. (A little.)

What about the audition, she said, almost laughing, as she left. Oh, that! I remember thinking.

Here’s the thing about auditioning that most actors know and very few actors can pull off. You can’t care all that much about it. If you care too much, you’re desperate – and that’s never a good thing. If you don’t care enough, you’re ambivalent. That’s not good, either. You have to care, but not really.  It’s a delicate balance. I think that pie helped me find it that day, and that allowed me to go into the audition with confidence, have fun and do my best.

Pie! Who knew?

Gina: Why do you think pie matters today?

Queen Esther: Cake is one thing, but pie is something else entirely.

When I think of desserts, pie is the ultimate comfort food. Simply put, there is something about it that says home. And although home means different things to everyone, I think that instinctively you are reaching for your idea of what home is, and for that comfort, with every bite, even if you didn’t have a mother and a grandmother and a great-grandmother that baked, like I did, or even if home for you was a negative situation.

In the aftermath of 9/11, so many people that I knew stayed home and basically nested.  When it was time to socialize, potluck dinners became the norm. Everyone seemed to intuitively want what a restaurant or a bar strived for quite often but couldn’t ever really provide – comfort.

Nowadays, things seem to be shifting gears towards a less complicated approach to living well. Everyone wants to breathe clean air, drink clean water and eat clean food. Locally grown, organic produce and meats are all the rage, at least in my neck of the woods. When it comes to baking desserts, there isn’t much that encompasses the essence of this ideal more than pie does. It’s synonymous with nurturing and warmth and, well…love, I suppose. Perhaps this is true because making pie is so personal and because it can be served hot, and that warmth translates into so much more when it’s inside of you.

We all want to feel loved, don’t we. If it’s true that you put yourself in what you make and if there’s love in your efforts, perhaps inadvertently, that’s a part of what someone is experiencing when they eat pie.

I’d like to think that’s true of the pie that I make.

Pie Interview: John Phillip Carroll on the Allure of Pie, Baking with James Beard, the Importance of Texture, and His Pie Tattoo

Cookbook Author John Phillip Carroll

John Phillip Carroll has authored or co-authored more than a dozen books on food and cooking, including California the Beautiful Cookbook and The Bakers’ Dozen Cookbook, and numerous volumes in the Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library.  His articles have appeared in several publications, including Gourmet, Cook’s Illustrated, and the San Francisco Chronicle.  He also serves on the panel for the Taster’s Choice column, which appears weekly in the Chronicle Food section.  In addition, he writes copy and recipes for catalogues and commodity boards.  He is a past president of the San Francisco Professional Food Society, and served on the board of directors of the Bakers Dozen. His book, Pie Pie Pie, was published by Chronicle Books.

Gina: Why do you love pie?

John: Pie has a unique allure.  The aromas—sweet, toasty, fruity—are tempting, and they draw people into the kitchen—the place that can be the center of life, of the home, where family and friends get to know one another.  If that sounds like a lot to expect from a pie, just try it sometime.  Pie, like homemade bread, is a symbol of many good things.

Gina: What is your fondest pie memory?

John: Mastering a basic pie crust, when I was about fourteen.  I learned a lot about baking from my grandmother, and I’d make a few pies, but my crusts weren’t like hers. She used to plunge right into the fat and flour and mix with her fingers.  She didn’t use a pastry blender. Her favorite fat for pie crust was lard, but it’s hard to find good tasting lard now, so I use vegetable shortening.  And I still blend the dough with my fingers.  James Beard used to say that our hands are the best tools for mixing, because you develop a real feel for what you are doing.  He was right.

Gina: What is your favorite kind of pie?

John: Summer fruit pies.  You just can’t top the combination of a crisp, flaky crust and a sweet, tender fruit filling.

Gina: Shelley Handler told me that you worked with James Beard. What did he teach you about pie?

John: James Beard, despite his girth, didn’t have much of what you’d call a “sweet tooth” for pie.  He liked simple tarts, and not-too-sweet pastries.  I don’t recall ever making a pie with him, though we sometimes made fruit tarts at home and in his summer cooking classes on the Oregon coast.

Gina: What is the oddest pie you’ve made, seen, or heard about?

John: Mock Apple Pie.  It’s made with soda crackers, but the recipe used to be on the Ritz Cracker box as well.  I’ve made it a couple times, and you’d be surprised, the filling really does resemble apple slices.  It’s a very old recipe, and before produce was shipped around the country, cooks had to made do with what they had.

Gina: Have you ever participated in or judged a pie contest?

John: I’ve judged many pie-baking contests, but never entered one.

Gina: Do you have any competition tips for contestants or judges?

John: For the contestants, keep it simple.  In every cooking contest, no matter how many entries, one or two of them will stand out.   And they are usually straightforward, undemanding recipes.  Whatever you are making, remember that when combining ingredients, and adding flavorings and spices, less is more.  A good pie judge is impartial, without bias, and tries not to be influenced by any predetermined notions of how he or she thinks should be.

Gina: What criteria should pie judges consider?

John: Taste and texture matter the most.  Appearance is secondary.  A homemade pie will never have the look of a pie cranked out in the mechanical world.

Gina: Is there a proper technique to tasting pie?

John: Texture, meaning tenderness, smoothness, flakiness—those are probably a pie’s greatest attributes.  Beyond that, tasting is not something deeply cerebral, although some palates are more refined, or educated, than others.  And when judging something, you must keep an open mind.

Gina: What is the secret to a perfect crust?

John: There really are no secrets, just some good advice. Don’t be afraid, just get right into the dough, and use your fingers for blending. Vegetable shortening (I use Crisco) is the fat I recommend for producing a crisp, tender American pie crust.  It keeps at room temperature, it blends easily with the flour, and it is generally very forgiving of a little too much handling.  Practice a few times, and you will get the hang of it.   Butter makes a good tart crust, but that is something different.

Gina: What personality traits make for the best pie bakers?

John: Patience and perseverance, and consoling yourself with the knowledge that if your pie didn’t turn out just the way you want it right off the bat, that it will probably be better next time.  Forget what scares you about making pies, and start fresh.

Gina: What’s the story of your pie tattoo?

John: I wanted a tattoo, and I wanted it unique.  I’d thumbed through catalogues of tattoos at a neighborhood studio (in San Francisco’s North Beach), but I wanted something nobody else had.  I took a photograph of a pie from a major food magazine to one of the artists at the studio.  His name was Marcus.  He’d recently moved to San Francisco from New York, after college, and he had a background in art.   He redrew the pie so it would “read” better in tattoo form, and of course shrunk it, to about the diameter of a tennis ball.  It’s a two-crust pie, in a blue enamel pie plate, with hearts in the top crust.   I’ve been very happy with it.  I even went back later, so he could photograph it for his portfolio.

Gina: Why does pie matter today?

John: Because pie, whether you are baking one or eating one, is rarely a solitary occurrence.  Sharing it with friends is a tradition cloaked in nostalgia.  It is also a social experience, a way to bring people together.  Pie is rarely eaten alone, except maybe for breakfast the next day.

John Phillip Carroll on the Golden Gate Bridge

Aimee Mann Thinks Pie is Sexier Than Cake

Singer-songwriter Aimee Mann tweeted the following comments yesterday:

I’ve never seen someone with such stage presence that you felt like you were eating a delicious piece of pie every time they were onstage.

That metaphor was super awkward, but I was up late. Sorry.

I know some of you are taking issue with me citing “pie” as the example of something that is satisfying and delicious, rather than cake.

But you have to admit there is something about the texture of pie that is a lot sexier than cake. Cake is merely a square of sweet.

click…click…click…WHOOPS! Pie Face Game

circa early 70s

Interview: Former Roller Derby Skater Kat Selvocki on Founding Piety Bakery, Her Favorite Seasonal Pies, BK Farmyards Pie Contest, and the Brooklyn Local Foods Renaissance

Kat Selvocki grew up in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania — close enough to Lancaster County that she developed a deep love for shoofly pie at a very young age. She now bakes pie, cooks, crafts, and gardens in Brooklyn, travels the world for inspiration, and photographs and blogs about all of it at katofalltrades.com.

Kat Selvocki

In addition to her urban homesteading adventures, she works full-time for a nonprofit, teaching volunteers to paint murals, garden, and serve meals in soup kitchens and she is the proprietor of Piety, a Brooklyn-based pie bakery that uses seasonal ingredients from local farms and organic suppliers to craft pies that give your grandma a run for her money.

Kat is a former roller derby player and current manager of the Bronx Gridlock of Gotham Girls Roller Derby. She explains, “I loved skating, but wanted more time to bake pie and explore other endeavors.”

Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/shinyredtype and twitter.com/pietybakery.

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Gina: Why do you love pie?

Kat: I love pie because it’s a really homey, comforting food that is meant to be shared. I love that pie reminds me of family and of history: I grew up with homemade pies — my grandmother makes the best coconut cream pie in existence! — and I also think it’s fascinating that the ancient Egyptians and the Romans consumed pie in some form. I love it because the best pies are very seasonal; you’re not going to have the perfect peach pie in the middle of winter. And I love that the best pies don’t look flawless: they’re handmade and show it.

Gina: Who taught you to bake?

Kat: I baked cookies and other things with my mom as a child, but I’m not sure I ever made piecrust with her. I started baking pies a few years ago, when I joined my first CSA, and I found myself with an abundance of some fruits — gooseberries in particular — and I had no idea what to do with them! I remembered my grandmother and my mom baking some beautiful summer pies, and I called them both to get their crust recipes and ran with it. I didn’t really know what I was doing; I knew the crusts tasted like the ones I remembered, so I kept doing it.

Gina: When did you start Piety Bakery and what are your hopes for it? Do you have a storefront?

Kat: I started working on piety in fall of 2009. I competed in a couple of bake-offs, and baked pies for a few events and around the holidays. This year, I’m working on figuring out all of the required paperwork (New York is currently cracking down on small food businesses), and looking into ways that I can find shared commercial kitchen space for a reasonable price. I’m aiming to sell at markets and custom orders; I’m not interested in having a storefront at this time.

Gina: What are your favorite pies for each season?

Kat: Spring: Apple-rhubarb or rhubarb, straight up. Summer: Peach-blueberry and sweet cherry. Fall: Peach maple walnut and pear-cranberry. Winter: Balsamic vinegar with pomegranate and shoofly.

Kat's Balsamic-Strawberry Pies

Gina: I notice that you offer gluten-free pie. What do make the crust with?

Kat: My gluten-free pie crust is made with a combination of tapioca, white rice, and sorghum flours. And butter. Lots of butter!

Gina: It seems like Brooklyn is in the midst of a pie renaissance. Why do you think that is and do you know the other players?

Kat: Brooklyn is in the midst of a local foods renaissance, so I think that’s a big part of why pie is back on the radar. People are creating urban homesteads and farms all over Brooklyn and participating in activities that go along with that (canning, for example), and I think people like the tradition that comes along with pie. Also, there are cupcake and cake and cookie shops aplenty around the city, and pie hasn’t been as much a part of that. It’s time for something a little different, and Brooklyn is great for being at the forefront of that shift.

I haven’t talked with the women of First Prize Pies and Four & Twenty Blackbirds yet, but I have sampled their wares and both shops make a pretty tasty pie! I have had the pleasure of meeting Lauren Cucinotta of Pie in the Park, and I’m really excited about her Kickstarter project. I’ve pledged, and will be publishing a pie recipe on my blog over the next few days to help raise awareness of the project and hopefully get her fully funded.

Gina: Please tell me about the BK Farmyards Pie Contest. Where was it held? What were the rules? Who attended? Who judged? Who won?

BK Farmyards Pie Contest

Kat: Jimmy’s No 43 in the East Village hosted the BK Farmyards pie contest. Jimmy’s is a great supporter of local and organic foods, and also hosts a lot of food events and cook-offs.

The only rule was that you had to make your own crust, which I think is probably the most important rule that you could have!

A variety of bakers, both professional and hobbyist, participated, including: Elizabeth Witte Kalin of Betty Brooklyn, Matthew Tilden of SCRATCHbread, Annie Novak of Growing Chefs and Eagle Street Rooftop Farm, Allison Kave of First Prize Pies, Emily and Melissa of Four & Twenty Blackbirds, Megan Paska of Brooklyn Honey, Joann Kim of Greenpoint Food Market, Lily & Fig, Blondie & Brownie, Lauren Cucinotta of Pie in the Park, and of course, me!

The judges included:

– Amy Zavatto, Edible/Imbibe contributor

– Anna Broussard, pastry instructor, French Culinary Institute

– Matt Timms, Chili Takedown

BK Farmyards Pie Contest

The winners of each category were:

Savory: Annie Novak of Eagle Street Rooftop Farms, for her rainbow chard quiche

Sweet: Joann Kim of Greenpoint Food Market, for her strawberry-rhubarb pie

People’s Choice: Elizabeth Witte Kalin of Betty Brooklyn, for her braised short rib mini pies

Gina: Have you entered other pie contests? Do you have any tips for contestants?

Kat: This is my third bake-off (two were pie, one dessert). At the Jimmy’s bake-off, the winners kept it simple, though that hasn’t been the case with the winners of previous bake-offs. It seems that with pie bake-offs, people tend to bake sweet pies, so if you make a good savory, you’ve got a better shot. And of course, the biggest key is making a good piecrust. The judges at Jimmy’s were surprised that no one used lard (I personally prefer butter so that it’s vegetarian-friendly, though I’ve sampled some delicious lard crusts), so using a different fat in your crust could help out there as well.

BK Farmyards Pie Contest

Gina: Why do you think pie matters today?

Kat: I think pie matters today because of tradition and community. Pie is an amazing food to create and share with others. Technology is both bringing us together in some ways and disconnecting us in others, and it’s important to be able to sit down and interact, and good food can really help the process. I think everyone has a pie story, and so many of us remember pie from family meals when we were young, and that can be a part of today, too.

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