When Tye Tilt (founder of our local Slow Food chapter
and everyone's favorite mushroom farmer) asked me to judge the pies at the Best Pie in the Tetons
contest, I jumped at the opportunity. After all, I fit both of Tye's criteria for being a judge: you must eat food and love pie.
This year's line-up at the Best Pie in the Tetons contest.
I do love pie, but I am a crummy pie-maker. For years I have dreamed of making a pie worthy of the Best Pie in the Tetons contest, held each July at the Tin Cup Challenge
in Driggs, Idaho. Secretly, I was hoping to pick up a few tips from Teton Valley's very best pie makers.
This Dilly Quiche made with local eggs won Best Savory Pie.
I skipped breakfast the morning of the big day, and my mouth started to water as the pies rolled in. Apple, bacon and blue cheese with maple whipped cream. Cherry rhubarb crumble pie. Strawberry rhubarb with a whole wheat crust. Then there were the savory pies: A dilly quiche made with local eggs, and a cheddar and crab quiche. There was a pie that wasn't a pie, but rather a gluten-free tart made with dates and nuts, topped with dairy-free citrus cream and gorgeous slices of fruit. And many, many more. Time to get to work.
I adored Sarah Gross' apple pie with bacon and blue cheese, served with maple whipped cream. Sarah won in the Most Creative category.
Judging a pie contest was more challenging that I had predicted. Not only did I have to eat at least 3 bites of all the pies, I had to do so while fighting off the growing crowd of pie enthusiasts. Kids begged for a slice, old timers patiently lined up, and every 2 minutes an adorable 12 year old girl asked me if I was done judging yet.
A pie enthusiast digs into the Cherry Rhubarb Crumble pie.
My fellow judges were an agreeable bunch, but we all remained steadfast to our favorites, making it difficult to declare a winner.
Here it is: The Best Pie in the Tetons, a Cherry Rhubarb Crumble Pie by Sue Muncaster. I didn't get the recipe, but her daughter gave me a hint; there's ginger in the crumble.
Finally, as the hungry crowd grew restless, we arrived at a consensus opinion. Jacob Holmes won the category for the Best Pie
using Most Local Ingredients
with his Whole Wheat Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
. The crust was made from freshly ground flour from our friends at 460Bread
; the rhubarb was cut from a neighbor's garden, and the strawberries were locally grown. Baked in an heirloom cast iron pan, it even had a tin cup crust decoration.
Jacob Holmes with his prizewinning Whole Wheat Strawberry Rhubarb Pie.
Tanya Alexander (from Forage restaurant in Driggs, Idaho) created a gorgeous gluten-free, dairy-free fruit tart. It was the clear winner of the Prettiest Pie category.
The pie that wasn't really a pie but a tart won for Prettiest Pie
. Tanya Alexander of Forage restaurant
in Driggs, Idaho crafted this "pie" from nuts and dates, and a dairy free citrus cream. This gluten-free dairy-free tart was a work of art. This tart made me want run over to Forage and check out what else was on the menu.
The winners were declared as the hungry crowd clamored for pie. And since we had no plates or forks for our pie enthusiasts, Tye declared: "Let them eat pie...with their hands". And they did. All pies were devoured in record time.
Another of Jake's entries, a Raspberry Rhubarb Pie showcases the Tetons.
Before all the hoopla was over, I quizzed Jake about his prizewinning pie. Jake credits his mom's advice, given over the phone. That, and the freshly ground whole wheat flour from his friends at 460Bread. Jake, who never measures, did give me a rough outline to recreate his pie. And a tip: Use less sugar than you think you need.
Nico Santelices did an admirable job of sampling all the fruit pies without a fork or plate.
I was determined to recreate Jake's Whole Wheat Strawberry Rhubarb Pie. Just like Jake, I cut down some rhubarb from my garden (the second sprouting having just arrived).
I scored the last basket of strawberries from Cosmic Apple Gardens at the farmer's market. Saving the strawberries for pie was the hardest part.
I made a crust using freshly ground 460Bread whole wheat flour, butter and cream cheese. Like Jake, I rubbed the crust with cream and sprinkled it with cinnamon sugar. I was careful not to overmix the dough.
I crimped the crust to the best of my ability, and went for a simple, hopeful declaration to vent the filling.
Although my version of Jake's pie still looked like it was crafted by a toddler, it was delicious--not too sweet, with a cinnamony whole wheat crust, and a bursting-with-strawberries flavor. My crust was not as flaky as Jake's, but I liked the nutty contrast the whole wheat flour added to the sweet and tart fruit.
Fellow judges Tye and Ross congratulate Jake on his Most Local Ingredients prizewinner.
Thanks for the tips, Jake. There may be hope for me yet.
For a printable version of the recipe, click on the file below it.
Jakob Holmes' Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
It is a challenge to pull off a whole wheat crust that is flaky and moist. To ensure the best results, you could use half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose flour.
The secret to a flaky crust? Make sure the butter and cream cheese are very cold when you mix them with the dry ingredients. And don't overmix; there should be pea-sized lumps of fat in the dough, which will melt and create steam pockets in the crust, and hence flakiness.
Makes 1 deep dish pie, or 2 smaller pies
For the Crust:
For the Filling:
- 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, freshly ground if possible (or use 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour)
- 4 ounces cold unsalted butter
- 4 ounces cold cream cheese
- 1/2 cup (or so) ice water
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 cups fresh rhubarb, chopped into small pieces
- 3 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 1 1/2 cups Sugar in the Raw (use more or less depending on the sweetness of your fruit)
- 2-3 tablespoon tapioca pearls, or instant tapioca
Inspiration for my next pie.
- Place the flour, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Mix well.
- Cut the butter and cream cheese into 1/2 inch chunks and add to the flour.
- With your hands, mix the flour with the butter and cream cheese, breaking the fats up into pieces the size of a pea.
- Add ice water a tablespoon at a time until you have a cohesive dough.
- Gently knead the dough for a minute on a floured board, and then divide into 2 portions. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
- While the dough chills, mix the strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, and tapioca in another bowl. Let sit for at least 20 minutes to thicken.
- If making a deep dish pie, roll out half the dough and place in a deep dish frying pan. Pour in the fruit, and top with the other half of the dough, rolled out. Crimp the edges, and brush the crust with heavy cream. Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon-sugar, and vent with a knife.
- If making two 8-9 inch pies, divide each portion of dough in two and roll on a floured board. Divide the fruit filling among the two pies, and top with the remaining crust.
- Bake at 350ºF for 35 minutes for the smaller pie, 45-55 minutes for the larger one.
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