By Mary Luz Mejia
Pie. For me, the very word conjures up images of warmth, comfort and the most delicious way to end a cool weather meal. Given my love of pie, you can imagine my delight when I was asked to be a judge at the Chudleigh’s first annual Apple Piefest Baking Competition in Halton Hills, Ont.
I was joined by fellow writers, bloggers and magazine editors on a rainy, cold autumn day. Our task? To taste-test and judge over 20 pies. We were wisely split into two teams of three, with each team picking the top three pies in their section. In the final round,all six judges congregated to taste the top six pies.
The competition was stiff and we were charged with awarding points for creativity, texture, appearance and presentation, flavour and consistency. The only fruit allowed was apple, but no apple crisps or crumbles were admissible – they had to be pies with a pastry bottom.
The winning pie was what you’d imagine grandma lovingly prepare for her brood: flake-perfect crust and a sweet, cinnamon-nuanced filling that was juicy without being liquid logged like some of the varieties we sampled.
But my personal all-round favourite was the cheese-speckled crust pie containing Chudleigh’s Wealthy and Cortland apples, a hint of cinnamon, vanilla and raw sugar. To my palate, it was the perfect marriage of savoury and sweet. It was also the most creative, delicious pie on the block with pastry apple cut-outs glistening on top.
The most amazing part is that Alex Rundle and her friend Cailin had never made pie before they entered this beauty. I wish I had that kind of “beginners luck”. My pastry just isn’t up to scratch. But the girls have shared their recipe with me so that we can all savour their second place winning entry!
Alex and Cailin’s Wealthy Cortland Cheddar Pie Recipe
2 ½ Cups Flour
½ Tsp. Salt
½ Cup Cold Butter, Cubed
½ Cup Cold Lard, Cubed
¼ Cup Ice Water
3 Tbsp. Sour Cream
1 Cup Grated Cheddar Cheese
Whisk flour with salt in large bowl. Cut in butter and lard until only a few large pieces remain. In a separate bowl, combine water and sour cream. Pour over the flour mixture and mix. Divide in half, refrigerate for 1 hour, or overnight. Immediately before using crust, mix in the cheddar cheese.
4 large Chudleigh’s Wealthy Apples
4 large Chudleigh’s Cortland Apples
¾ Cups Sugar
2 Tbsp Cornstarch
1 Tbsp. Cinnamon
1 Tbsp. Vanilla
1 egg yolk
3 Tbsp. Coarse Raw Sugar
Peel and core apples and cut into slices. In a small bowl combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon andsalt. Toss apples with vanilla, then coat with sugar mixture.
1 Egg Yolk
3 Tbsp. Coarse Raw Sugar
1 Chudleigh’s Apple Shaped Cookie Cutter
Roll out half of pastry on floured surface. Fit to pie plate. Make ventilation holes with fork. Add apple filling mixture. Roll out remaining dough. Whisk egg yolk. Brush over pastry rim. Use cookie cutterto cut apple shapes in pie crust. Fit crust over pie and brush with remaining egg yolk. Add more holes with fork. Sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake 10 minutes on bottom rack of oven at 450F degrees. Reduce heat to 350F degrees, cover pie with tin foil and bake for 60 minutes.