September 30, 2010

Granville Island Pie Contest!

Today was the first annual Granville Island Pie contest, and if you have seen my post for Cranberry Pear Apple Pie with Parmesan Crust you will probably be all caught up on how I made a test pie a few days before, ran around everywhere looking for fresh cranberries, and discovered and tweaked a recipe for Vodka Pie Dough. Well? All my hard work paid off! I won 1st place at the Farmer’s market today, and it was quite the race!

First off, I didn’t think I would make it there on time (oh everyone in architecture runs everything to the last second) because I put the pie in the oven at 9:20am and I had to catch the 10:30 bus! (I might have pressed the snooze button a couple times) I live in the northern suburbs of Vancouver and it takes a good hour to get to the market. Thankfully, luck and the convection oven was on my side because I was able to pull the pie out of the oven at 10:15 and with 5 minutes to spare, snapped a few pictures, put it in a basket and tote bag and off I went. I briskly walked to the bus stop, managed to catch the bus and there I sat, with a steaming hot pie right out of the oven as my fellow passengers wondered where the smell was coming from.
After waiting for the bus, sitting with it beside me for safety, I made it to my connection point where I had to catch another bus. I had just missed the bus and got on a different one, when lo and behold, my best friend’s parents were on the bus with me! It’s been quite a while since I saw them so it was a very pleasant surprise! I made it to the farmer’s market with 5 minutes to spare to 12 noon and I successfully submitted the pie on time!
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There were 10 pies entered into the contest in total, and it was tough. There was a pumpkin chiffon pie, a caramel apple pie, lemon and buttermilk, apple rhubarb, and a few other really creative ones. How was I to compete?
Oh the suspense! The judges went from one end of the table to the other (mine was last) and they tasted the pies one at a time, carried around a clipboard to record scores and oh man was it nerve racking. I strained to hear their conversation and questioned myself when I heard them exclaim, “mmmm”s or “ooo that one’s good” at so many of the different pies!
I was happy there were so many participants and a lot of people that came down to witness it. It was a beautiful, crisp, sunny day at Granville Island, a perfect day to host the first ever pie contest at Granville Island.
The trophies and goodie bags to be won.
Chef Ann’s tasting my pie! I faintly hear, oh this one is verrrrrry good from her and oh I get excited! She has a stand at the farmer’s market called Cranberry & Onion, and I guess I picked the right ingredient to put in my pie as she likes cranberries!
My mom came out from work for moral support.
Counting up the scores!
People are all milling about waiting to hear the results!
My pie tied for 1st place with the Pumpkin Chiffon Pie!!!
The coordinators were nice enough to save me some. I hadn’t even tasted my final pie yet! So all this effort and what did I get in my loot bag??? Oh man, I think I’ll do this again next year! I got so much stuff!
I got 2 cookbooks, a set of hand painted cards, an locally grown artichoke, local celery from the farmer’s market, a pot of Nicola Valley Gourmet Honey in a beautiful handmade clay pot, balsamic jelly, A potted Winter Pansy, A Terra Breads gift certificate for 25 dollars, Terra Bread’s Pecan Fruit Crisps, and 2 tote bags! Not to mention my lovely trophy and ribbon.
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How fitting! A cranberry inspired tote bag! Thank you Granville Island for putting on a great pie contest! Now, what will I bake next year?

Cranberry Pear Apple Pie with Parmesan Crust

Note: See the results at the Granville Island Pie Contest! Post.

So Granville Island is going to have an annual pie contest hosted by the Thursday Farmer’s Market and this is the first time it’s on! Oh I wanted to create a pie that would prove that my baking is as good as I can cook!

The rules are as follows:
· Invitation to all Island Staff and the Public
· Only one pie with recipe can be submitted by each contestant
· Pies must be dropped off before Noon on Thursday, September 30, 2010
· Judging is at Noon, pies will be judged on appearance/creativity, taste/ and overall impression
· No crumble crust please
· Pie recipe must be submitted with the pie

Well those rules are pretty easy to follow! Now I wanted to create a pie that celebrates the apples, pears, and cranberries that are in season as fall is upon us and these fruits are local! Why the three ingredients? Well, the pear adds an almost flowery softness to the pie, the apple a sweet crunch and the cranberry the tangy sourness that will meld the pie together. The cheese in the crust is what gives it a savoury quality to it, and mellows out the sweetness of the pie. Think, cheese and fruit plate in a pie form!

Parmesan, specifically Grana Padano, is a very hard cheese with a grainy texture, but is less grainy than Parmigiano- Reggiano. It holds up to the baking and doesn’t really melt, so giving the pie crust a stiff quality but adds the cheesy flavour. It’s also cheaper than most other Parmesans so you don’t have to feel bad about using it in baking rather than enjoying it as it is.

Anyway, enough rambling. On to the recipe! This is a test pie that I baked a few days before the actual pie contest just to make sure the recipe is perfect. I made a few adjustments and added it into this recipe.

Final Product:
3 Honey Crisp Apples
4 Ripe Anjou Pears
1 batch of Cranberry Sauce
1 batch of Vodka Pie Dough with Parmesan Cheese
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon (preferably freshly ground)
1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg (fresh)
1/4 tsp Ground Cardamom
2 Tbsp Agave Syrup
3 Tbsp Flour
1 Tbsp Corn Starch
Tin Foil
Pizza Stone or Cast Iron Pan
1 Egg
2 Tbsp Milk

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and place a pizza stone in the center of the oven, or an upside down cast iron pan. This helps the pie bake on the bottom as well as the top evenly as it is common for the bottom crust to be undercooked.
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2. Using a clean coffee grinder, grind up cinnamon sticks for freshly ground cinnamon. Break them in half and grind until it comes out a fine powder. Pass it through a sieve or a tea ball to get any coarse bits out.
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3. Wash the apples and pears and peel them.
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4. Cut them off the core, and slice them so they’re 1/8” thick. Put everything into a large bowl.
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5. Take the cinnamon stick out of the cranberry sauce and pour over the fruit. Give it a toss with a spatula.
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6. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and Agave Syrup
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7. Put flour and corn starch into the tea ball or sieve and shake over the fruit and thoroughly mix.
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8. Using the pie crust from Vodka Pie dough with Parmesan Cheese, add your filling, carefully remove the the pastry from the wax paper by rolling it over your rolling pin for transferring.
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9. Cut out the excess pastry with scissors. Crimp the edges. Make an egg wash with 1 egg and 2 Tbsp of milk. Using a pastry brush, brush on a thin layer of egg wash onto the top. This will help the pie become golden brown.
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10. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp of Raw sugar on top.
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11. Make a tin foil jacket for the pie to keep the edges and the top from browning too fast. It should be long enough to cover the circumference of the pie and wide enough to mostly cover the sides and top. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for the first 30 minutes, and turn down the heat to 350 degrees for the remaining 30-40 minutes. Take off the foil jacket with 20 minutes left in baking.
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12. Use the scraps and extra filling to make yourself an apple gallette!
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This ended up being the most flaky delicious pie I’ve ever tasted, and the pears were soft, the apples were a little crunchy and the tartness of the cranberries really played well with the cheesiness in the crust. Hopefully this will be a winning pie! I’ll give and update after the judging happens!

Apple Pie on Foodista