I'm a winner!
Okay, enough about the Rockies already. Here is the post that will act as a salve to Dave's hurting wounds from the losing Rockies.
This weekend, another competition was taking place. A church in Westchester hosted it's 2nd annual Chili-Pie Bake off. Let's just put it this way: it was the world series for pie baking.
I knew the competition would be stiff, and I prepared accordingly. Following a strategy session with my next door neighbor Rick, who won last year's contest, I settled on a caramel pecan apple pie. I baked all day (along with putting the final touches on the kids' Halloween costumes) and took the pie out at 3.30. I desperately wanted the pie to still be warm when the judges tasted it. As we were driving to the church, I had a moment of panic when I saw the water that was sloshing around inside the pie. Why was it there? What had caused it to appear? Travis suggested I pour it off, and a dicey operation ensued. Luckily the pie survived the draining, but my hopes of winning were crushed. Who would want to eat a watery pie?
I was completely surprised when my pie was called as the winning one. I was so thrilled I ran up the steps to accept my apron, and then turned around and gave an impromptu speech to the crowd. There had been several winners for chili, but mine was the only speech. I must admit I'm a bit embarrassed about it now, but it was a rambunctious group so hopefully no one heard what I said.
For those of you who asked (you both know who you are!), here is the recipe. I have some tips included too, if you're interested. The irony of it all is that I really don't like pie. I'm not a fan of any kind of cooked fruit... I'm just in it to win it. Any suggestions for next year's recipe?
CRUNCH CARAMEL-APPLE PIE
single pie crust
1/2 cup sugar
2 T all purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
6 med. baking apples, peeled and thinly sliced
Stir above together until apple slices are coated. Transfer apple mixture to pastry-lined pie plate. Sprinkle crumb topping over apple mixture. To prevent overbrowning, cover edge of pie with foil. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes or till top is golden. Remove from oven; sprinkle pie with pecans, then drizzle caramel topping over. Cool on wire rack.
CRUMB TOPPING: 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup quick cooking oats, 1/2 cup butter until crumbs form.
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping
my tips: I always used locally grown apples. This year was honey crisp. After peeling I coat them in lemon juice, so they don't brown. I also used vanilla sugar, which was introduced to me by the lovely and talented Elizabeth. She gave it to me a couple of Christmases ago... it's basically regular sugar with a couple vanilla beans in it. You just keep adding sugar to the container when it starts to get low, and leave the vanilla bean in there. It adds a great flavor to whatever you're baking.