There was a successful showing of entries at the first Vandalia Gathering pie and cake baking contest Saturday.
"We thought it was time to introduce a food competition to the weekend," said Randall Reid-Smith, commissioner of culture and history, master of ceremonies for and driving force behind the event. "It fills a spot that may have been lacking and lends a feel of other West Virginia fairs and festivals to the Vandalia Gathering."
It's impressive that the organizers didn't forget that there are young bakers, since a large focus of Vandalia is the bringing together of families.
Ashley Hager of Kenna took the blue ribbon in the youth category and also placed third in the adult division with a single cake.
Second place went to Tracy Carte of Charleston for a poppy-seed sour-cream apple cake that could easily do double duty as a moist coffeecake.
The first-place winner was Ella Hoffman of South Charleston for an attractive, appetite-rousing fresh apple cake, finished with hot butter caramel drizzled over the top. The coconut and nuts gave the appearance of a German chocolate cake, baked as a Bundt. In fact, "German chocolate" is the tag that judges Eddie Belcher, Dewayne Duncan and I gave it for identification.
The pies that won were traditional and familiar apple blends in flaky pastry. In their fashion, they all clearly and flavorfully spoke of "Mom." Well ... except for one.
Charleston's John Carte upset the apple cart of several female contestants with his variation on a Dutch apple pie, earning first-place stature.
In the Carte family baking throwdown, John's pie topped wife Tracy's cake. However, she may be partially credited for his win because her mother gave them her pie-crust recipe when they were newlyweds.
The second- and third-place pies, both old-fashioned apple with great spicy fillings and appealingly garnished top crusts were Kris Rollins of Scott Depot and Mary Jane Bradshaw of Chesapeake.
The youth pie winner was Rachel Stevens of Charleston, who fashioned apple-shaped cutouts and sculptures in her top crust.
All cake and pie winners received cash awards.
Reid-Smith said he is thinking of expanding to jams, preserves and possibly breads next year. "We're encouraged by the turnout and ready to toss around different food competition ideas."
E-mail Judy Grigoraci at ...@suddenlink.net.
Simply Delicious Apple Pie
Basic pastry dough:
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup Crisco (cook's tip: subtract 1 tablespoon Crisco and replace with 1 tablespoon butter)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 pound butter, chilled (1 stick)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons flour
4 to 6 large firm, tart apples
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 to 2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
For crust, stir together milk and vinegar; set aside. Mix flour, Crisco and butter until mixture crumbles; add milk mixture, blending lightly. Roll out and place in 9-inch pie pan, crimping edges.