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Local bakers share secret to pie success

POSTED July 11, 2012 2:41 p.m.

Who doesn’t love a warm pie made from scratch and baked until perfection?  It’s ideal for family gatherings, holiday, or simply a midnight snack.  Whether you like old-fashioned apple pie, cream or custard pie, it takes the right ingredients and the right person to bake the ideal pie.

 “A pie tastes the best when it is made from home and every ingredient is made from scratch,” said Erin Sprandin.

Sprandin, 21, will be one of many contestants who will put their skills to the test to create the best apple pie and submit it for judging at the Stanislaus County Fair on Friday.  The contest asks bakers of all ages and skill levels to submit two pies — one for judging and one that will be donated to the United Samaritan Foundation’s lunch program.

“This is my first year entering the contest but I am confident that I have the secret ingredient that will beat out the rest of the competition,” said Sprandin.

This will be the 10th year for the apple pie contest at the Stanislaus County Fair. There are no restrictions on what ingredients can go into the pies — except, of course, there has to be apples. 

“I’ve been practicing all week to prepare.  With the help of my grandmother’s Southern crust recipe, I am confident that my pie will turn out good in time for the competition this Friday,” said Sprandin. 

This year the judging panel will be made up of mayors from cities around the county, including Ramon Bawanan from Hughson, Garrad Marsh from Modesto, Ed Katon from Newman, Luis Molina from Patterson, Virginia Madueno from Riverbank and John Lazar from Turlock.

 “I’ve been baking since I was 15 years old.  I mostly bake muffins, cakes, and other types of desserts.  I started getting into pies because of my grandmother,” said Sprandin.

One might think that all apple pie recipes are the same, but the slight variations in its recipe can make a difference on the finished product.

“The type of fat you use will affect flavor and flakiness, while the amount affects tenderness. Flaky crusts result when bits of un-melted fat are layered between layers of flour and melt away with baking. They can be made from a variety of solid fats such as butter, vegetable shortening, and lard,” said Sidonia Rosa.  “I have also found that the best ingredient in an apple pie is of course, the apples.”

Rosa, 70, who in the past was a contestant in the fair’ pie contest, has baked her share pies.  She believes that the secret for perfection lies in intuition.

“I never follow the directions on the recipe box,” said Rosa.  “I use my intuition and add more if I have to.  The results are always good.”

Whether the secret lies in a fluffy crust or the perfect apples, one thing is for certain, experience and technique works best when baking the perfect pie.

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