Beginner’s Luck very likely plays a role in many of our kitchens frequently, but when it comes to baking, there is a lot to be said for the old adage “Practice makes Perfect”.
This year’s winner had a little from column A and a little from column B. Malin Limaj is one of our youngest ever contestants, so I’m guessing a bit a of a novice at the whole pie baking thing. But having baked two pies in less than 24 hours of the contest, she was good and limbered up. With a first pie having “failed” completely according to her mother, they made a last minute run back to Volante Farms at 9 am on Saturday morning to re-up their supplies of Granny Smith and Baldwin apples. With a brand new pie in hand and a HOT label on it they made it in to the judges table just in the nick of time with their new pie and whether it was the panic or the perseverance or the piping hot steam, the judges named it their favorite! Winning them over as the the 21st entrant in a line of 22 pies means it must have done quite a lot right.
Malin took home a very hefty $150 Volante Farms gift certificate for her hard work as well as a very special trophy. Perhaps most coveted she earned that spot on the judging panel for next year’s contest. The top contestants also received very special chocolate and caramel covered apples from Sonny of Sonny’s Sweets, one of our esteemed judges. Sonny was joined on the panel this year by our own pastry chef Jen Heberlein and last year’s winner Nicole.
Malin’s Pie had a rather classic lattice top which was popular this year. Lattice is great if your apples are on the juicier side as there is more room for the moisture to evaporate, but for drier fruit you want to watch the moisture retention qualities of a solid top.
Our second place pie this year by Heather Adams was, I believe, one of our highest performing crumb topped pies to date. It especially benefited from a jolt of sweetness from the caramel topping on top of the crumb. Heather received a $75 gift card to the farm as well as a gourmet apple from Sonny.
3rd place was a tie between two other Apple Pie variations: Ruth Mahoney’s Old Fashioned Apple Pie and Jane Harvey’s Swedish Apple Pie. Both of them were recipients of a $35 Gift Card and some solid bragging rights.
Best Presentation this year went to Jeff Cruzan. His pie was rather simple at first glance, yet somehow impossibly tall and beautifully symmetrical. He received a $20 Gift Card for his attention to detail.
These top 5 pies are show below with their recipes, as well as a youtube slideshow of the entire event. Thanks to all of our contestants, judges, and customers who joined us for this event. This is always a great way to kick off the holiday baking season, and while we still have over 30 apple varieties available take the opportunity soon to get in some practice baking on your own.
For the record the winning varieties this year were Granny Smith, Baldwin, Cortland, Rome, Macoun, & Monroe. Cortland are still the bakers’ favorite appearing in over 40% of this year’s pies.