Monday, July 6, 2009

Prize-Winning Pies and Cupcakes

Whenever we visit the Eastern Idaho State Fair- which is considerably often, considering we live in Missouri- my favorite displays to look at are the prize-winning pies. It's a facet of small town America I didn't get to witness first hand growing up in Southern California, but I remember reading about in books like Charlotte's Web. So I was thrilled when I found out that Kirksville was having an apple pie contest and a cupcake contest the weekend of the 4th!

It all started when my friend Marie told me she and her daughter were going to enter cupcakes in the contest and would we like to as well? Uh, yes please! There's a blog I love to poke around at called Bakerella- have you ever tried her Thank you Betty bars? I thought I'd check her blog out for any great 4th of July themed cupcakes. Instead I found these hamburger cupcakes she made for Father's Day. Could you just die?! It was so easy. I knew those were the ones.

I baked a yellow cake mix in the cups (2/3 full), as per the suggestion of her highness, the one and only Bakerella. I sliced them into thirds and kept only the top and bottom pieces as the buns. I used my 1/4 cup measuring cup to cut brownies (mix) into circles. Hamburger Patties! So brilliant! I bought vanilla frosting, mixed yellow, green, and red food coloring into three separate portions of it and piped them onto the top of the patties using only ziplock baggies with small tips cut off. Then a little water brushed on the tops with a pastry brush and few sesame seed shakes and we achieved the most adorable cupcake I have absolutely ever seen.

The girls had fun. Well, Franny and Corrinne had fun. Sophie was only interested in eating Corrinne's jelly bean corn kernels. Isn't this idea adorable as well? It comes from a book called Hello Cupcake that I went ahead and ordered for my best friend Annie for her birthday. I'm glad you like it!!

Then we patiently waited for the results. A couple of brothers took 3rd place, Corrinne's corn on the cob took 2nd and WOOHOO, Franny took 1st. It was so exciting. She has not been able to stop talking about it since it happened. "Mommy, did they give me a "congratulations" (first place ribbon)?" "Mommy, did they call my name?" "Mommy, did I win first place at the cupcake contest?" "Mommy, what does hamburger cupcake mean? So it's not real?" It's been a good opportunity for us to help her with skills at recalling events. She keeps going up to people and saying things like, "They called my name!" And that's it. So we can say, why did they call your name? where were you when they called your name? etc. It was a great moment, except I felt so bad for Sophie. Corrinne's name was called, Franny's name was called and she kept asking for her turn. It was so sad. She was too young to enter the contest, but of course she helped with the cupcakes. She was so upset I had to take her out when they were taking pictures of the winners, so thank you Marie for snapping this shot for me.

I went online to read about the Kirksville holiday events and the cupcake rules and I discovered that there was an apple pie contest as well. HOT DOG! I love baking pies. There is something so gratifying in making your own crust and having it lay perfectly in the pan and crimping the edges decoratively with your fingers. And then the way it makes your house smell while it bakes. The salty, flaky crust paired with the sweet filling. I just love pies. I usually only make apple pies in the fall, though, when there are better apples to choose from. But I went for it anyway. If Granny Smith are good enough for Ina Garten's recipe, then they're food enough for me too. I actually tried a new recipe. I looked for one that was similar to my friend Bill Brady's, though, as he is naturally the master apple pie-maker. His crust recipe uses all shortening and doesn't call for any sugar. I really like the absence of sugar, but I am a true butter snob. So I turned to 101 cookbooks. I trust her recipes, they have never done me wrong. Actually, what really sold me on her recipe was the butterfly cutout on top of her pie. I started looking for a good summery cookie-cutter, and found this star that came with a set that Annie (BFF who I gave the cookbook to) gave me for my birthday last year. Perfect! The recipe is nothing fancy. I brushed an egg wash on top of the crust and dusted it with cinnamon sugar. I followed the recipe pretty closely except I used only a dash of allspice instead of the 1/4 tsp or so the recipe calls for.

So after the cupcake contest results were given, they auctioned off some donated pies and we continued to wait for the apple pie contest results. My pie took second place! I was thrilled! Franny was thrilled for me, too. The rest of the night she was making up songs about it. Waving her little ribbon around and singing, "Katherine and Franny, you did a good job, congratulations!" We had to bring two pies- one for judging and one for auctioning off. My pie was sold for $22.50. The first place pie, an apple pecan streusel pie, sold for a whopping $90! Ninety bucks for a pie! It was Bobby's first night on call at the hospital, so it was a girls' night out. After the contests were over, we were walking to the car and passed Pagliai's, a local pizza joint. We ducked in and shared a small pizza and a big root beer. (Jayne, you were right. That is kid's pizza for sure. Although I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it. It reminded me of my youth and I found myself wanting to order a side of ranch for dipping like I used to at Chuck E Cheese's.) Franny wanted me to take pictures of her making these scary hand gestures accompanied with varied emotional faces. You'll find happy, sad, scared, surprised... Sophie wanted in on the fun, too.


Shana said...

wow, those hamburger cupcakes are freakishly hamburger-like. Congratulations on your 1st and 2nd prizes. Look at you Katherine, county fairs and pie contests? Next year you and franny should raise some livestock for 4-h. I love small town county fairs, something very nostalgic about them.

Brendon and Stephanie said...

We miss you guys. No surprise that you won TWO prizes! That's awesome. I aspire to bake/cook just like you. You're amazing!

Way to have a fun girls night time I want to join in on the fun!

Chrissy said...

CONGRATS Katherine and Franny! Franny is doing so good! I loved seeing all of her emotions, so cute. Both the pie and cupcakes look amazing!! I knew you'd win :).

Anne said...

So many things to comment on. Wow those cupcakes look amazing. And the pies look wonderful too. You are amazing!

Franny and Sophie look so darling and Franny so proud. And your red shirt is so cute.

Love the cookbook, I can't put it down. Love you!

Jessica said...

If you didn't win, I would have cursed Kirksville. Congratulations!

Franny is so stinkin cute.

Jenny said...

How fun. Am I surprised? Not one little bit. You rock

Kelly said...

That is so awesome! I'm so excited for you. I dibs a copy of your first cookbook!

valerie said...

Those cupcakes look awesome!!! And that pie makes my mouth water!!! Congratulations!!!

Melody said...

Sexy Buns Katherine!
So impressive and I wish I could have a bite, although I would feel bad eating something so awesome to look at.
I love your perfect, apple pie, red checker, shirt. A new-old fashioned hip style. So cool.
Your blog is wonderful and I love how dedicated you are. I love visiting your little slice of heaven you carve for you and your family. It's delicious.

theflanfam said...

That is far too exciting! I need one of those cupcakes and slice of that pie! Delish. Congrats to you all. I sure do wish I could swing by the kirks again. ahhh, the memories!

Keri Beth Mason said...

So crazy! I found your blog from a blog of another blog (make sense) and then just was going through your older posts to check out the recipes.

That's when I saw Thousand Hills. Ding Ding! And Pagliais (polly-eyes).

Hello Truman State University! My alma mater (1999-2003). I loved Kirksville. It sort of gets a bad wrap, but I really love it. I live in a town that is almost identical, but I still miss Kville!

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