The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

September 6, 2013

From cream to pecan: Fair pie-baking contest judging takes center stage

ENID, Okla. — Judge Martha Gabriel walked into Garfield County Fair with her work spread before her — 28 pies entered in the pie-baking contest.

Not every entrant could be there for the judging, but 12 expectant bakers awaited Gabriel’s arrival.

As Gabriel set to work, she cut a good-sized piece from each pie.

“I’m getting a nice-sized piece just because I think it’s nice to have a good piece on the plate, so people can compare,” Gabriel told the bakers as she began cutting the peach pies.

Some of the onlookers voiced their agreement as they eagerly eyed Gabriel’s progress.

The categories that drew the largest entries were pecan and cream, with seven pies each.

Gabriel, formerly the extension home economist for Garfield County, gave pie-baking tips and commentary on each pie she cut and tasted.

“I’m looking for flaky crusts and nice, even browning,” Gabriel told the bakers.

Linda Sader, food superintendent, assisted Gabriel by bringing the pies to the table where she sat and letting her know the category for the pies spread before her.

As for pie-baking tips, Gabriel gave out advice such as “If you are baking in a throw-away pan, I recommend you put it on a baking sheet, because it won’t get done if you don’t.”

Looking at the seven cream pies, Gabriel told the bakers the competition would be tough.

“This is a good class,” Gabriel said. “It’s a tough class.”

After tasting each, Gabriel removed two pies from the table — and from consideration.

“I’m going to go ahead and eliminate some of them,” Gabriel said. “This one has some separation and this one has a little tougher crust than I like.”

Gabriel’s commentary on the pies as she sampled them was softened with such observations as “each one of these is a little science experiment. You try something and see how it comes out.”

The fact no youths baked pies for the contest resulted in a bonus for the hopeful bakers. Since Jumbo Foods sponsors two $50 gift cards for the pie contest, a champion and reserve champion would be decided.

Peggy Stanford took grand champion for her pecan pie.

“This is the first time I’ve entered the pie contest,” Stanford said.

Reserve champion ribbon went to Kim Mullen for her freestone peach pie.

“I also had a lemon that I took second on,” Mullen said. “My pecan didn’t win because it was the one that was runny.”

Mullen may have had an unfair advantage. She bakes and decorates cakes professionally, doing business out of her home as Kim’s Cakes, and marketing her cakes with a Facebook page. She said prices start at $25.

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