Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pie Baking Contest

Today our stake had a big "Harvest Festival" complete with balloon animals, sunflower seedspitting contests, cotton candy machine, etc.  We had fun hanging out with friends and catching up with people that Paul knew from when he was growing up in the area.  Clara was a sweet little girl and was so good the whole time.

Clarabelle had fun holding onto Paul's hair and messing with daddy's face and glasses and drooling all over.  (Pretty sure she is teething). 

The highlight of the event (for me) was the pie baking contest.  I've known for a couple of weeks that it was coming up and I have to admit that I put much more thought into it than I probably should have.  What can I say? - I'm ridiculously competitive when it comes to baking or, well, most things I guess.  In case you need a reminder, you might like to reread this post about a chili cook-off I entered a couple of years ago. 

After much contemplation (and getting opinions from friends and even borrowing a pie & tart recipe book), I decided to tweak an old family recipe that was not exactly a pie recipe and turn it into a pie.  I made up my mind when we went to the Farmer's Market this morning and I tasted the most amazing fresh strawberries.  I also retitled the recipe because "Strawberry Delight" (the original recipe's name) doesn't sound as gourmet and amazing as "Late Summer Strawberries & Cream Pie with Walnut Shortbread Crust".  There isn't actually any cream in the pie, and I'm not entirely sure that the crust qualifies as a shortbread, but I liked the sound of it all together and it is more or less accurate, so I figured, why not?  Besides, if you are judging just by name and you see my pie name up against plain ol' "Apple Pie", mine is definitely more intriguing, right? 

Anyway, there were something like 5 prizes for the 24 pie entries - best appearance, best crust, best texture, most creative, and best overall pie.  Some of the other pie entries included a pumpkin pecan pie, a rocky road pie, a lemon truffle pie, a strawberry rhubarb pie (I just about made this flavor myself actually because I adore the tangy-sweet combo of strawberry and rhubarb), a dutch apple pie, a blueberry rhubarb pie, a banana split pie, and a french silk pie.  Paul counseled me beforehand not to get my hopes up too high because this was a stake level contest, not just a ward level contest - the "Big Time," as he put it - and so it might be more difficult to walk away with an award.  I thought my best chances were in Best Appearance or Most Creative categories, so I almost, almost, suggested that we leave after the most creative award was given out and it didn't go to my pie.  But lo and behold, I walked away with the first place, Best Overall Pie title.  I couldn't stop smiling and I still feel a little giddy inside. 

Me looking nerdy with my empty pie dish.  Clara was more interested in gnawing on the prize bag.

Since I'm bragging about tonight's victory and still goofishly grinning ear-to-ear, I figured I would share my winning recipe.  If you can snag some fresh strawberries before they go out of season and the weather is still warm where you live, I recommend making this as it really was delicious.  Oh, and a few of the ingredients can be tricky to find but I always stock up on Danish Dessert and Dream Whip whenever I am at Wal-Mart (like, once every 2 years) because they always seem to have them.  These things are easier to find in Utah than they are in California though.  And incidentally, for anyone who read the chili cook-off post and wants to know:  Yes, I hovered but NOT during the judging (see this Valentine's Day Post where I learned that lesson) and once the pies were judged and opened up to the general public for eating but before the awards were announced, mine was the first to go.


Late Summer Strawberries & Cream Pie with a Walnut Shortbread Crust

Walnut Shortbread Crust:

1 stick butter, mostly melted
1 cup flour
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Cream Filling:

1 package Dream Whip, prepared according to package directions
1 package cream cheese
2 Tbsp powdered sugar

Strawberry Topping:

1 package Danish Dessert, prepared according to package directions
2-3 pints fresh strawberries, washed and hulled and cut in half

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare crust by mixing flour, brown sugar, chopped walnuts, cinnamon and mostly melted better together in a bowl with a fork or pastry cutter until it roughly resembles cookie dough.  Press into the bottom of a pie dish (no need to butter the dish - there is plenty of butter in the dough to keep the crust from sticking).  It is not necessary to press it up the sides of the pie dish at this point.  Bake the crust for approximately 15 to 18 minutes, then remove from oven and use a fork to crumble the crust while it is still warm.  Press warm crumbled crust against the sides and bottom of the pie dish to create the crust, similar to a graham cracker crust.

While crust is cooling, prepare the Strawberry Danish Dessert according to package directions and place in refrigerator to cool somewhat (but not entirely set up).  Next, prepare Dream Whip according to package directions, then add powdered sugar and cream cheese and mix until smooth.  My cream cheese was still a little cold so I couldn't get it totally smooth, but it still turned out fine.  Spoon into the cooled pie crust.

Stir prepared strawberries into the slightly cooled Danish Dessert, then spoon the strawberry mixture on top of the cream cheese filling.  Refrigerate pie for a couple of hours, but allow it to sit out of the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving as it is best served not too cold.


  1. That looks amazing!! And I can't wait to see you with your dark hair in person!!

  2. It was the best pie there! I saw it on my brother's plate and I have to admit, I was in line with he kids for a game and I went and cut in line for the pies so that I could get some:) Thanks for sharing the recipe. I will pass it on to my brother:)

  3. I'm so hungry for that pie right now.

    I can't believe what a little grownup Clara is! And her hair is too cute.

  4. How is it possible that Clara is even cuter in this post than in your past ones? She is adorable!!!!

  5. Ry is now begging me to make this for him. And oh-my-gosh, I can't believe how cute Clara is!

  6. Man, I miss all your awesome desserts! How do you think your pie would do in the mail...
    Wishful thinking, I guess.

    Love you guys and miss your guts!

  7. That looks amazing. Drool. Seriously, I will have to try that recipe you shared.

  8. That pie looks awesome! My mouth is watering right now. I love little Clara sitting up on Paul's shoulders. She looks like such a little big girl!

  9. Hi Amy!
    So I just commented on another post, and was continuing on reading and got to this post (obviously). I knew you guys lived in the Bay area, but I have to ask, you are in the San Jose South Stake right?! I know that the stake recently had a harvest festival, and I'd recognize the front of the Comanche chapel anywhere, because that was the building I grew up going to church at! I can't believe you guys live in my home stake! I grew up in the Parkview ward, but they disbanded it, so if I still lived in the area, I'd be in the Hillsdale ward. Anyway, it just makes me super happy to have found your blog and know you live in the same stake I grew up in!

    Sorry that was totally random =]



Your turn...