Tuesday, September 15, 2015

I Make the Best Pies in Town

I am an undisputed champion! I have now won the Takoma Park Farmer's Market Apple Pie Contest every year that I have entered it (3 times). Woohoo! I think I shall rest on my laurels next year and play the volunteer role to give someone else a shot at a prize. A big thanks to my friends and neighbors who also entered pies or volunteered this year. Your pies were delicious and it was so much fun to have so much company this year! And a huge thanks to my husband. Without him, there is no pie. Because somebody has to watch the kids.

My Plum Lucky Apple Pie won Most Unusual this year. I got a shiny blue ribbon and a fancy new Takoma Park Farmer's Market baseball cap. Thanks Takoma Park! My Cider-Poached Apple Pie did not win a prize this year, but the crowd was very interested in its white fluffy topping (whipped cream) and I think some more tweaking could make it a contender. I won't post that recipe yet, since it requires more testing. Here's the recipe for the big winner:

Plum Lucky Apple Pie (makes one 9.5" pie)

buttery pastry dough for bottom and top crust
5 Gingergold apples (peeled, cored, & thickly sliced)
4 black plums (peeled, pitted, & thickly sliced)
1 T. fresh lemon juice
2.5 T. unsalted butter
1/4 c. + 1/8 c. packed brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
2 T. apple cider
1/2 T. arrowroot starch
1/4 c. apple-prune puree (Simmer 1 peeled and chopped apple with 4 prunes in 1/4 c. fresh orange juice for 20 min. Cool slightly. Puree.)

3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
3/4 c. chopped pecans
6 T. butter, cut into small squares
1/4 t. salt

Roll out dough and place in 9.5" pie dish. Crimp overhang and pierce all over with fork. Freeze while oven preheats to 375F. Line pie shell with pie weights and bake at 375F for 12 min. Remove pie weights and bake an additional 12 min. Cool while filling and topping are prepared. Toss apples with lemon juice. Set plums aside in a separate bowl. Mix apple cider with arrowroot starch in a separate bowl. Melt butter in a large skillet over med heat. Add brown sugar and cinnamon and stir to blend. Add apples and saute for 4 min. Add plums and saute and additional 1 min more. Add cider-starch mixture and stir vigorously until thickens and bubbles, about 2-3 min more. Remove from heat. Stir in apple-prune puree. Pour into prepared pie crust. Mix topping ingredients together in a large bowl with your fingertips until clumpy. Sprinkle over top of pie. Bake at 350F for 40 min. Enjoy!

Current Pie Tally: 177

Labor Day Pie Contest Practice

As the big Takoma Park Farmer's Market Apple Pie Contest loomed closer, I baked an experimental pie or two for the Labor Day Block Party as I have done in the past. It's becoming the venue for getting a sneak peak at my pie contest entries. The two trial pies you see here are an Apple Custard Pie and a Plum Lucky Apple Pie (apple & plums). The Apple Custard Pie was good, but it didn't make the cut. I baked it according to my Rhubarb Custard Pie recipe and substituted granny smith apples for the rhubarb. I cooked it at 400F for 40-45 min. The custard came out great, but the fruit just didn't have enough full-bodied flavor to make it a contest contender. Maybe if I could find some super flavorful super sour apples in the future it would have a chance. The Plum Lucky Apple Pie was a crowd favorite at the Block Party, so I decided to make one of those for the contest even though it seemed a bit boring to me. More on that in the next post.

Current Pie Tally: 175

Mom's Birthday Rhubarb Custard Pie

This pie is the result of an impulse purchase of some beautiful rhubarb they had at the farmer's market one week. It was so beautiful in fact that a passerby commented on the "lovely" rhubarb I had sticking out of my backpack. I didn't get a chance to use it right away, so I brought it with me on vacation and made it for my mother's birthday. It came out perfectly despite using foreign tools and appliances. Mom was delighted. Here is the recipe. This time I baked it at 400F for about 45 min. Slam dunk!

Current Pie Tally: 173

Cherry Blackberry Pie

A visitor from Germany had the pleasure of sharing this pie with us when she came to tour my husband's lab. This is my go-to 4th of July pie and it came out great as always. Recipe can be found here. For this one, I used 4 T. arrowroot starch instead of tapioca.

Current Pie Tally: 172

Cherry Berry Pie

In the interest of catching up quickly from my lackadaisical summer of pie, I'm going to bulldoze ahead with spotty details here. This pie had strawberries and cherries in it. Possibly rhubarb or something else also. I think I made it for a neighborhood event of some kind and the recipe is probably similar to this one. Apologies for the lameness of my remembering abilities. It looks tasty though, doesn't it?

Current Pie Tally: 171