So here’s the part of the blog I love the most. When I come up with a great pun title and tell it to someone and they hate it/ don’t get it/ downright say it’s no good, and then I know it’s the one to go with. For the record, Teri hated it, but on the other hand she did want me to ask you how to make an Apple Turnover? … Push it down a hill. So bear with me, I haven’t gotten to get my creative juices out for a while and here they go:


The Thrilla of Pie Filla


For our  annual pie contest, one thing has become very clear; this is by far and away the strongest competition going at Volante’s. People sign up quick and feverishly for a spot on the card table these beautiful last days of October. Why?


So many reasons: personal demons, sibling rivalry, the approval of friends and relatives, chips on shoulders. A love of baking and the camaraderie of the kitchen? Sure probably that too.


So the apples were the stars again of course. The apple pie contest has once again brought pies of all creeds, shapes and sizes to the mat. Lightweight and heavy weight alike, some lumbering under their own caramelly heft others dancing around on flaky phillo dough, but all of them giving the judges something to consider. Round after round they absorbed each and every jab and parry (mixed metaphors yet?) of the flavors on their forks.

While I’m on that note, thanks again to our judges. They are true heroes. Tasting 21 pies, often more than once, and offering comments and criticism, scoring and determining their favorite. Judges included our own pastry chef, Jen Heberlein, whose opinions for apple pie, well, mean she is a pretty tough judge. A little more understanding of the tribulations the contestants had put themselves in for, last years winner, Sally Gaudaitis, was on the other side of the judges table and rose to the occasion. She also brought the possible future prize idea of a reserved parking spot at Volantes for the winner, not a bad idea at all! Robert DeSimone of Needham’s Spiga Restaurant has often said apple pie is his favorite dessert, so we inundated him once again. Finally Amy Traverso, author of the Apple Lover’s Cookbook, fought through personal injury to circle the table. So glad she could make it, we hope to get more copies of her book in the stand shortly. If you haven’t gotten a chance to see it yet, check out this wonderful piece on Chronicle from earlier this month, all about apples it has a piece on us and flows right into Amy showing how to make her apple pickles and her own perfect Apple Pie.


OK back to fight night.


There was nothing overtly technical about the knockout  in this bout. Kelley Heyworth won easily with her nearly extravagant display of a Pennsylvania Dutch Apple Crumb Pie with a Maple-Cinnamon Whipped Cream.

Rumor had it she comes from a family of trained culinary talents. However many eyes they rolled at her for entering her same old apple pie, it is clear she knew how to bring her A game to the task. Strolling home with a $100 gift card to Volante’s, a copy of the Apple Lovers Cookbook, a sweet trophy, and judging rights at next year’s competition. She has certainly earned the title, the belt and all the accolades to follow. She went home hoisting her trophy and mobile fan club in the air.

Recipe for her pie below and here: Kelley Heyworth’s Pie


Irit Feldman’s 2nd Place Pie, with a super flakey top crust.

Second place was a real interesting matchup. Former classmates, and I have to assume from their visages, bitter rivals (who had never been happier to see each other again) met again in the ring, years after grad school. Surprised to see each other, the tension was palpable. But they held it together and kept it clean and it paid off. These two once bitter foes ended today’s match in draw. At the final bell they were tied for 2nd, and parted ways with a $75 gift card each. Sure to meet again in upcoming cooking challenges. Schoolyard rivalries can’t end so quickly.

Carmine’s Caramel, Cardamom, & Cognac Pie … with Apples also in 2nd Place.


Third place: Future rivalries take off. The Lockhart sisters came to play again, but young Zoe Lockhart held her own. While she certainly wants to move beyond third place, having won the same spot last year, her sister is nipping at her heels. With this kind of familial pressure, I don’t envy the other mouths in that house, being subjected to trial after trial and choosing one sister over the other. For today however, Zoe takes home the honor again and $35 worth of Volante Farms gift card.


That’s as far as I can stretch it today. It has been a long bout and literally I never watch boxing. I clearly don’t have the vocabulary for it. But thanks to everyone for joining us again this year. There were really do many beautiful pies and so many different types. In addition to the 4 winners above we also gave a special presentation award to Maria Engle whose piecrust towered beautifully over her pie. See the photos here to see how the tower of apples left a lacelike structure of crust suspended above the plate.


Maria’s very Presentable Pie

Maria’s pie tower, pre-oven.

Also as you are well aware, the other half the fun is opening up the tasting to the crowd, and letting everyone be a judge for a minute. Plenty of our staff did this and there was a different and clear favorite for them, perhaps because of the uniqueness, Paul Gardner’s Candy Apple Pie. The recipe for this is also included below in the photo gallery, due to popular demand.


The Staff Pick, Candy Apple Pie


See this pie and the rest of the excellent contestants below, as well as the recipes for our top winners. And thanks for joining us. Please be sure to come back to see us next Saturday when we take a different sort of food challenge on. We hope to carve at least 500 pumpkins Saturday afternoon and light them around the farm for a twilight stroll. We ask you to come and join us in the fun and donate $5 to the surgery department at Boston Children’s Hospital in the process. More to come on this later this week, but mark your calendars now!

For future pie planning, be sure to study my favorite bit of fruity statistics, the Apple Pie -Pie Chart. This year’s pies used apples from the wide variety we have to choose from, but the winner used Suncrisp, Baldwin, and Granny Smith. See the distribution of the 21 entries below: