What makes a prize-winning pie? Creativity, patience and — in Kentucky, at least — maybe a little bourbon.
Stephanie Jeter of Lexington won blue ribbons for prettiest pie and best semi-homemade pie in the Great American Pie Contest, held July 3, with her Tipsy caramel chocolate pie with pecans. The contest is part of the city’s Fourth of July festival.
That pie also took third place in the chocolate division of the American Pie Council’s National Pie Championships. (Jeter is so into pie-making that her skirt had wedges of pie on it.)
She puts a tablespoon of Woodford Reserve in the pie and two more in the caramel topping.
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Loris Points, who took second place in this year’s scratch category and won last year’s contest, included a quarter-cup of Evan Williams bourbon in her green-tomato mincemeat pie.
She got the recipe from a Southern Living magazine spread on redoing old pies from the 1930s.
“It was very clever,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine how that would taste, and when I got it finished, it was somewhat like chutney. ... I’m going to have to make another, because I never got to taste the actual pie.”
Allie Baughn of Lexington, who won the scratch division this year with her princess peach pie, credits the freshest peaches. She buys them from the farmers market or local orchards. It takes longer than using canned filling, but it’s worth it, she said.
“It’s really good with ice cream, too.”
Points, 83, said she was impressed that the winners of the contest were both young.
Pie-making “is a dying art,” Points said, and she has worked at it for many years. She said she likes working the crust, because it reminds her of working with clay sculpture.
“I always want to encourage young people to learn it, and in many cases, their grandmothers taught them,” she said. Her secret for a great crust? “It’s the vinegar that’s the magic.”
Young bakers seem eager to pick up the rolling pin.
Baughn said she has baked since she was 10, and Jeter has won prettiest pie for two years in a row.
When it comes to pie, though, the final test is taste, and as beautiful as the pecan pie is, Jeter’s favorite is much simpler: “Just plain chess pie.”
Best scratch pie: Allie Baughn, first ; Loris Points, second; Ellenann Meier, third. Prettiest pie: Stephanie Jeter. Best semi-homemade pie: Stephanie Jeter, first; Ruth Willoughby, second; Jennifer Wright, third.
Tipsy caramel chocolate pie with pecans
1 Pillsbury roll-out pie crust
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup 100 percent cacao unsweetened cocoa
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon bourbon
3 large eggs
1 cup toasted chopped pecans
1 unbaked pie crust shell
Salted caramel topping:
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons bourbon
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 cups toasted pecan haves
1/2 teaspoons sea salt
Roll or pie crust into 9-inch pie plate and crimp the edges. Brush edges with egg whites.
Prepare filling: preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together first seven ingredients in a large bowl. Add eggs, stirring until well blended. Fold in chopped pecans. Pour mixture into unbaked pie shell. Bake for 35 minutes (filling will be loose but will set as it cools.) Remove from oven to a wire rack. Immediately, place pecans into filling in concentric circles, working outside in.
Prepare caramel topping: Bring 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water and lemon juice to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Do not stir. Boil, swirling occasionally after sugar begins to change color, 8 minutes or until dark amber. (Do not walk away from the pan, as the sugar could burn quickly once it begins to change color.)
Remove from heat; add cream, bourbon and four tablespoons butter. Stir constantly until bubbling stops and cream and butter incorporated (about one minute.) Stir in table salt.
Top pie with warm caramel. Cool 15 minutes, then sprinkle with sea salt.
Princess peach pie with homemade crust
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter
5 to 7 tablespoons water
Put flour in mixing bowl with the butter. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour. Add the salt and water. Mix until dough is formed. Roll out and place in pie dish. Put in fridge until ready to bake.
3/4 cup combination of brown and white sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 cups fresh peach slices
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup soft butter
Line 9-inch pie pan with pie crust. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix sugar, flour and salt. Toss with the peaches, vanilla and lemon juice. Spoon into crust. Make the topping by combining brown sugar, flour, oats, walnuts, salt then mix in butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle topping over filling. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake for 40 minutes.
Green tomato mincemeat pie
4 Granny Smith apples, chopped and peeled
5 small green tomatoes (peel by dipping in scalding water, then cool, seed and dice)
8 ounce bag of dried cranberries
2 teaspoons or more of apple pie spice
Add ¼ cup of bourbon
2 tablespoons orange zest (zest of 3 oranges)
1 cup granulated sugar
Half-teaspoon of salt
¾ cup chopped pecans, toasted
Mix together first four ingredients, add bourbon, orange zest, sugar and salt. Cook on stove for 30 minutes; add a quarter-cup water if dry.
Cool and store in the refrigerator for two or three days to cure flavors. After three days, stir in pecans.
Pour mixture into pie crust, top with other half of crust. Crimp edges together and add holes to vent top crust; these can be decorative cut outs.
Cook at 350, about 30 minutes, with aluminum foil over the top to keep from getting overbrown.
3 cups flour
1 cup shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, well beaten
5 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon vinegar
Cut shortening into flour and salt. Combine egg, water and vinegar and beat. Pour liquid into flour mixture all at once. Blend with spoon until all moistened.
Crust molds well and can be re-rolled without toughness. Keeps two weeks in the refrigerator. Makes two crusts, enough for a bottom and a top.