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!

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

  1. Louise Robertson says:

    Not just a great pie maker but also a gourmet cook. Very talented and fun to hang out with. Great pictures and interview.

  2. joan williams says:

    Good pictures. Your pies are good too.

  3. John Hanrahan says:

    After all the fun and games of the Pie Festival, Ruth finally was overtaken by her sciatic nerve. So on Sept 14 she had Back fusion on S1 L5 L4 L3 and is now recuperating at home on her 12 acre spread. Her husband (ME) is waiting on her hand and foot. She’s actually a good patient so good I think I’ll keep her.

  4. Gina Hyams says:

    Oh, I’m sorry to hear this, John. All best to you and Ruth. Wishing her a speedy recovery!

  5. John says:

    Hi Gina slow in updating but here’s a new line. This year Ruth tried to stay as far away from the Pie Festival as she could. So while Ruth was hold up at home, the Council got together and surprised Ruth at home by crowning her this years 2011 Pie Festival Queen. About 15 people arrived at our home about 5 o-clock just in time to celebrate. Ruth laughed, she cried, it was a wonderful surprise. Ruth loved the attention “hard to believe”. Ruth turned 76 Sept 2, one hell of a women.

  6. Gina Hyams says:

    Sweet. Thanks for the update, John. All best to everybody in Pie Town.

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