UPDATE Aug. 1, 2013! Register by Aug. 7 for the judges to taste your favorite recipe in the Apple Pie Baking Contest Sat., Aug. 10, held in conjunction with the Hometown Picnic from noon to 4PM. 2013 judges Mayor George Pradel and Dan Casey will join returning 2012 judges Nada Darwish and Stephanie Penick. Below is an overview of the 2012 event.
Remembering an Apple Pie Baking Contest
All last week, folks remarked to PN’s publisher, Stephanie Penick, that they were envious that she’d be among the four judges for the apple pie baking competition at Naper Settlement’s Hometown Picnic, a delicious detail that had been mentioned in Tim West’s commentary column in the Naperville Sun.
West had noted he also would be a judge along with Mike Krol, chairman of the Naperville Heritage Society board of directors; and Neda Darwish, owner of Sugar Monkey Cupcakes in downtown Naperville.
The call had gone out for apple pie bakers to register for the competition and by the time the pies were to be delivered to the Meeting House at noon on Aug. 11, 15 bakers had submitted 16 apple pies in many different varieties and degrees of upper crust.
After reviewing the line up of 16 apple pies spread out over tables, all numbered in the order they had been delivered, the four judges were seated at an L-shaped table just after 1PM. Contest organizer Jenn Edginton, Learning Experiences Coordinator at Naper Settlement, explained the rules to determine the three best apple pies based on appearance, crust, filling and overall impression. Then the competition began, one slice at a time served by Naper Settlement volunteer Amy Ramsland.
The judges quickly discovered the pies had two things in common: they were all home-baked in traditionally round pie plates and their main ingredient was apple. Otherwise, each recipe was distinguished by different flavors of the filling and appearance.
For instance, one pie was apple plum and several were apple crumb. One was blackberry apple double crust while another was apple criss-cross crust, topped with an apple shape cut out of pie dough. And two pies had been entered by the same baker because she wasn’t pleased with the way the first one had come out of the oven, Edginton said.
While the judges waited between slices—nary an “Mmmmm Mm!” was heard, noting fairness—the y reminisced about other times they had judged food competitions. West quickly became recognized as the most experienced with a long history of judging ribs, both at Ribfest for professionally smoked ribs and at Last Fling for the amateur barbecue variety. Penick said she’d judged all types of chocolate desserts at the 360 Youth Services annual Chocolate Festival.
The judges also shared childhood memories of Mom’s apple pie served with cheddar or American cheese and a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. Krol, who grew up on a farm, remembered great tasting crust made with lard and Crisco. Penick shared that the secret to her mother’s flaky pie crust recipe is ice water. And Darwish noted the importance of salt, even in the sweetest recipes.
The lively conversation also included “pie birds,” a handy pie-baking tool that’s set in the center of the top crust to help release steam while baking to prevent the filling of a pie from boiling over.
Edginton and Ramsland (pictured upper right with the three winning pies) orchestrated the contest, sliver by sliver. After at least 32 bites to test the texture of the crust and the taste of the filling, the judges’ scores— ranging from 1-inedible to 10-sublime in each of four categories —had determined that No. 6 Beatrice McGovern had mastered first place. No. 2 Bryan Ogg’s recipe put him in a close second place and No. 14 Kristin Zwirkoski’s apple pie came in third place. All three of top winners had entered double crust apple pies.
The winners were announced at 2:30PM at the end of the Naperville Light Guard Band concert near the gazebo. Winners received a ribbon, baking-related prizes and bragging rights. First place McGovern also received a pie plate and an apron for her winning entry.
For more information, contact Edginton at (630) 305-5252 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Edginton is hopeful that the Apple Pie Baking Competition will be repeated next year.
Note to future judges: Judging an apple pie baking contest with 16 entries is not only delicious, it’s filling!
Going forward, plan a visit to the Pre-Emption House at Naper Settlement and take in the exhibits during this All-American Summer at the outdoor history museum. Year round, visitors can see Les Shrader paintings in “Brushstrokes of the Past: Naperville’s Story,” a permanent exhibit that depicts the history in vivid colors, vintage photos and artifacts. A special exhibit, “Food for Thought,” is dedicated to the history of food in the Heritage Gallery.
Also, save the dates of Aug. 24-25 for the return of Naper Nights, a summer series of outdoor concerts at Naper Settlement.
RELATED PN POSTS: Food for Thought