No matter whether you’re a pie maker, pie lover or both, Central Florida was the place to be weekend before last for the Great American Pie Festival, National Pie Championship and Pie Learning Center. The American Pie Council did an amazing job putting these events together and it was my first time attending. The gigantic pie display above was the first thing you saw when you walked into the Pie Learning Center room. There was so much sugar in the air that it was hard to not go into sugar shock! Yummmm!!! These pies were from grocery stores and bakeries all over the country.
One of my reasons for going was to meet Francine Bryson from The American Baking Competition that aired on CBS last year. She was my favorite finalist and is also a National Pie Champion. We follow each other on social media and since she was speaking at two events, I made my way out there to say “hi” to my virtual southern friend in person. She talked about her experience on the show while demonstrating how to make her famous Chocolate Peanut Butter Bacon Pie (which is amazing by the way – I got to sample it twice). Did you know she gets her vanilla at the bait & tackle shop? Go figure! Francine was contacted by 26 publishing companies on the night of the show’s finale wanting to publish her cookbook and then received 300 cookbooks on her front porch from publishers to show her the type of cookbooks they publish (now that’s a cookbook collector’s dream). Her cookbook, Blue Ribbon Baking from a Redneck Kitchen, will be available on September 9. Francine got emotional speaking about her cookbook and reaching her lifelong dream. She said every page of her cookbook is covered with love. Can’t wait to get my copy. Here are a few Francine quotes I just had to write down:
- The cool thing about making something someone else has is that you can put your own “stank” on it!
- I believe in good dishes, but I also believe in paying your light bill.
- You can never have enough chocolate or bacon!
- Do everything you do from the heart because you’ll always succeed.
Francine brought “Team Redneck” along with her for the weekend. It was a blast hanging out with this crazy bunch. I can’t even begin to tell you how much fun we had…you had to be there. We all laughed so hard our sides hurt! Just call me a Team Redneck member now. I look forward to seeing these sweet and funny ladies again.
In addition to all the fun over the weekend, there were several sessions for learning anything and everything about pie. The photos above show Susan Reid from King Arthur Flour, her beautiful apple pie and Chef Joe DiPaolo from Duncan Hines Comstock/Wilderness Fruit Fillings. While making a pie, they shared the following tips and tricks.
- Put pie dough on parchment paper to help move the dough around. She spritzes with water and folds the dough over using the parchment paper.
- Shape dough in a circle before chilling and it’s easier to roll out.
- Roll pie dough from the middle out.
- Spray pie plate with cooking spray before adding crust to make it easier to get the first piece of pie out.
- Use several sizes of chopped apples in an apple pie and combine different kinds of apples.
- Put cutouts on top of pie (as she did above) instead of a top crust.
- You can use a rolling pin as a measure. The standard barrel is 10 inches and handles are 3 to 4 inches.
- Use half & half as a wash on top of crust or cutouts and sprinkle with coarse sparkling sugar (it catches the light).
- She bakes her apple pie until she sees bubbles in the middle.
Chef Joe’s tips:
- Instead of melting caramels to put in the bottom of a pie, use a caramel sheet instead (the ones that come out in the fall for caramel apples).
- You can make a pie crust with cake mix by mixing together 1 box cake mix, 3 egg yolks, 1 egg and 1 tablespoon butter. Use half for the pie crust and make cookies with the rest.
- Another way to use pie filling is to puree a can of pie filling, put in freezer, take out and blend again, return to freezer. You’ve now got sorbet.
There was a never-ending pie buffet at the festival on Saturday, but I didn’t get many pictures of that. You get the idea with Team Redneck getting their pie on above. What a great weekend of fun with new friends and everything pie! I might just have to start baking pies with all the new tips I learned.