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!!
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.