I wish I could return to you with news of blue-ribbon glory, but participating in the Bucktown Apple Pie Contest (not to mention my own challenge of taking on an unknown pastry in less than a month's time) did come up as a winning experience in my books.
After dropping off contestant pie #7 early Sunday morning, I was awed at just how big this 5-year-old event had gotten- 120 beautiful pies and a waiting list of bakers in the wings! I met contestants that quoted an heirloom depression-era recipe, some that shared a few secrets-apple butter and orange juice, and a few very strange renditions for show-hickory smoked apple pie is not on my list to reproduce any time soon!
I found myself wandering not one but two 'pie rooms', trying to guess which crusts were shortening and which were butter simply by appearance, finally comparing my pie to others gathered by my ticket holding friends. And naturally, that resident taste tester had nothing but superlative words for my 'rustic' little number. I call it rustic because at 1 a.m. in the morning, crimping pie crusts by hand is not high on the priority list.
And so I discovered I'm a flavor person, not a precision baker. I'm proud that I was able to produce edible pies that sold tickets, but like anyone that's worked as a busboy or waitress, sometimes it's just better to be on the receiving end of a good meal.
Perhaps by Thanksgiving I'll be able to present my family with an apple pie remember! Or I might just take this year off...