Pie championships draw nearly 900 entries

by Eric Schroeder
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ORLANDO, FLA. — The American Pie Council recently announced the winners of its 17th Annual A.P.C./Crisco National Pie Championships held April 8-10 in Orlando. The pie competition is held each year in conjunction with the Great American Pie Festival and the Never Ending Pie Buffet, an event that draws an annual following of more than 32,000 people and features more than 87,000 slices of pie.

This year’s pie championships attracted 896 entries in four divisions: Amateur, Professional, Junior Chef and Commercial. The event featured three new categories: Royal Wedding, Gluten-Free and Crisco Innovations. The pies were judged by 174 pre-qualified volunteer chefs, bakers and assorted pie aficionados.

“We want to thank all those who traveled to Orlando to participate in the 17th Annual A.P.C./Crisco National Pie Championships,” said Linda Hoskins, executive director of the A.P.C. “The creativity and skill demonstrated in all of the categories, but especially our new categories — Royal Wedding, Gluten-Free and Crisco Innovation — were truly inspiring, not to mention, mouthwatering.”

The Royal Wedding Pie category, which was added for only one year, challenged professional bakers to use their imaginations to create a pie fit to serve Prince William and Kate Middleton at their upcoming April nuptials. The winner of the Royal Wedding Pie category, Bryan Ehrenholm of The Lunch Pail in Modesto, Calif., also took the Professional division’s Best in Show out of 142 entries for his creation called “Engagement Ring Pie.”

“The engagement ring worn by Kate Middleton is rich with history and grace, symbolizing the eternal love of Diana for her son William and William for his future Queen,” Mr. Ehrenholm said of his creation. “So this pie is rich with history of English walnuts and dates, graced by a meringue crust and topped with the deep color of blueberries and encircled with the lightness of whip cream and diamond dust.”

Nearly 450 entries took part in five categories within the Commercial division. Bakers Square took top honors with 32 wins, followed by Bonert's Slice of Pie with 21 wins.

The Amateur division, meanwhile, featured 301 entries spread among 17 pie flavors. Phyllis Szymanek of Toledo, Ohio, took the Amateur Best in Show with her Royal Macadamia Raspberry Pie. Her Crisco-based crust featured ground macadamia nuts, as did her cream cheese and Cool Whip filling, which was topped with a glaze comprised of fresh raspberries and raspberry Jell-O.

Junior Chefs, ages 14-17, also made a strong showing at the competition, but last year’s winner once again emerged victorious. Devin Davis of Plant City, Fla., took the Junior Chef Best in Show with his Creamy Guava Pie, which consisted of a crust made with Crisco Butter-Flavored Shortening, filled with a whipped cream and cream cheese mixture which then was layered with a guava topping made from guava paste, lemon Jell-O, sugar and water, and topped with a whipped cream topping sweetened with sugar and vanilla.

In celebration of Crisco's 100th birthday this year, the competition featured a “Crisco Innovation” category, challenging professional and amateur bakers to come up with a creative new pie concept while incorporating at least a ½ cup of Crisco All-Vegetable Shortening. Taking Best of Show in the Amateur division was Naylet LaRochelle, of Miami, whose pie name was as creative as its flavor: “My Big Fat Italian Strawberry-Basil Wedding Pie.” Ms. LaRochelle’s big fat pie featured a crust made from Butter-Flavored Crisco Shortening and a filling made with Smucker’s Strawberry Preserves, mascarpone cheese, whipped cream, unflavored gelatin and chopped fresh basil, topped with a vanilla bean white chocolate mousse.

Best of Show in the Professional Crisco Innovation category was Linda Hundt of DeWitt, Mich., for her pie called, “Laura’s Sticky Toffee Pudding Apple Pie.” Her pie also featured a Crisco-based crust layered with a sticky toffee pudding filling and praline pecans, topped with a mixture of cooked apples, cinnamon, butter and sugar, baked and then smothered with homemade caramel and more praline pecans.

The Gluten-Free category also was added this year to the Amateur division. The first place winner of this permanent new category was Liza Ludwig of Winter Curlew, Iowa, with her “Mom’s Mudpuddle Pie.” The pie featured a brownie crust with a rich filling made of Mexican cocoa, Mexican vanilla, cream, semi-sweet chocolate, chopped nuts, butterscotch chips, and mini-marshmallows, topped with crushed Score candy bars.
For a full list of winners visit www.piecouncil.org.

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