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This Pie Made It To The Semi Finals at the Bucktown Apple Pie Contest

I mentioned last week that I was working on my pie for the Bucktown Apple Pie Competition. I have been so busy, but unexpected time opened up and allowed me to devote all Saturday to this pie. I started the prep at 10:oopm so it would fresh for morning, but set. I had a last minute inspiration to dust cinnamon powder with my Chinese long life vegetable cutter.It worked! And notice the center with a full Star Anise pod. Here is my recipe. I based my crust on Dorie Greenspan's Good for Almost Anything Crust, but changed the shortening aspect to my trusted Atora. This tasted way better than my previous attempts. But what a lot of butter and grease that seeped out while baking. But better it seep than stay in, but still give me a flakier crust.

On Sunday Morning I arose at dawn and popped the pies back into the oven at a low 200 to warm up for an hour . I was the Contestant #2 and had my photo taken. I got some compliments on the appearance and left. All the contestants were to return at 2pm . At 2:30pm the finalists were announced. While waiting and listening to some band called Tangleweed that played bluegrass/ country, I saw my name on the ribbon board on a list of Semi Finalists!

I made it that far. Maybe there was hope for finalist?92 contestants, 27 Semi Finalists, 5 Winners.

All this year in particular of obsessing, blogging, learning, Daring Bakers, reading, etc was starting to pay off in improvement.But that's as far as I got. The finalist seemed like familiar names in the competition.Neighborhood locals, repeat contestants,etc. This was my second year and I think I'm miles ahead from last years entry.The celebrity judges including Gale Gand , and Stephanie Izard( Top Chef Chicago winner) went to work on the finalists table and the mob was directed to the Pie Room to 'buy' a taste.

We were packed liked sardines , but I found my pie and waited patiently for a clear view. One of them was practically gone and people in line were asking for a slice. Now was the time to really taste and see how it measures up. I was pleased. The crust was not soggy , but flaky even on the bottom. The fruit gelled nice. A lot of pies looked like they had bigger chunks of fruit, but not that gel like sauce. The only thing I would change is bigger chunks of fruit and more fruit, as the winning pies seemed to be high in fruit. One of the finalist told me she only uses 4 ingredients in her crust, one of them being milk! Hmmm, I have to try that one day.I didn't stick around to 4:45 for the winners. The place was packed and a line went through to outside. I heard a volunteer turning non contestants or people who hadn't already been inside away because they running out of pie. The contestants pies were being sold off in slices and the winners auctioned. Sounds like it was a succes. I will be back next year, God willing.

Coco's Asian Apple Pie

Makes 1 9inch double crust pie


1 12 fl oz can of Frozen Apple Juice concentrate
1 cinnamon stick 2-3 Star Anise ground to make 2 teaspoons of powder
1/4 teaspoon mace
pinch of black pepper
5-6 Golden Delicious apples peeled ,cored, and chopped
1/2 cup King Arthur's Pie Enhancer ( for thickening)
1/2 cup sugar
Pastry Crust
3 cups all -purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 sticks frozen unsalted butter cut into small pieces
1/3 cup Atora ( cold) a shredded dehydrated suet available in the the UK or online
1/2 cup ice water
Egg Wash
1 egg beaten
1 teaspoon cream

Take a heavy bottom sauce pan and heat the frozen concentrate with the ground star anise, cinnamon stick( intact) , and mace until mixture is reduced by half. It will form a dark syrup. Set aside. Discard cinnamon stick when cool.
Make Crust. mix flour , sugar, and salt in your Stand Mixer. Gradually in stages add the butter and Atora until mixed into the flour. Do not over mix! Chunks of butter and Atora are fine. Gradually add water by tablespoon until all is combined . Just enough until it holds together. Take the dough and place on a lightly floured work surface . I use wax paper for easier clean up. Divide into 2 balls. Take a ball and between two sheets of wax paper roll out to fit into pie pans.Place rolled discs in refrigerator until ready to use.
Peel, core , and chop apples. Toss into a bowl with syrup/ concentrate mixture( discarding cinnamon stick). Add the sugar and pie enhancer. Toss until evenly mixed.
Preheat oven to 350 .
Line pie tin with crust. Pour in fruit filling. Cover and seal edges with second layer of dough.Slash dough to vent.Brush with egg wash mix( egg beaten with cream).
Bake at 350 for 30 -5 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil, and reduce heat to 200. Bake an additional 1 hour.* Place pie pans on a baking pan with lips to catch the excess butter, etc. that bakes out of the pie. Take out and allow to cool on wire rack with foil cover for a few hours to set. Serve at a cool room temperature.

I'm sending this over to Ivy, for her Sweet Pies Event.

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Emiline said...

Congrats! That's awesome.

Heather said...

congratulations! that looks soo tasty!

maybelle's mom said...

sounds delicious. and congrats. I would have picked yours b/c I love fusion desserts.

DeepSleeper said...

Congratulations ! The bit of asian cinnamon dusting is a touch of ethereal genius, like a tasty mandala !

Audax Artifex said...

Congrats and the design in the middle is a nice touch. Good luck for next year.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Wow, congrats! That's sooo great!

Cheers and have a wonderful week,


Nina Timm said...

Wow, you are becoming quite "daring" baker, entering competitions and all!!! Well done, my friend! The looks scrumptious!!!

Ivy said...

Cinnamon is so good in apple pies and I always add more than stated in the ingredients. Congratulations and making it to the semi-finals amongst so many contestants is a big deal. Thanks for participating with this lovely Apple Pie and next year I hope you will be No. 1.

The Caked Crusader said...

yay, for the pie!
yay, for the baker of the pie!

kittie said...


Coincidentally, a colleague has just brought me a huge bag of apples into work - I'm going to bake my first ever apple pie!!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Yeah!!! Congrats. Your pie looks v. yummy.

Peter M said...

Congrats and great result for your first foray in the contest...until next year!

Mary said...

Congratulations! Your pie looks mighty glamorous with the Chinese symbol on it. How exciting to create your own recipe and have that clear of a response on how good it is!!

Darius T. Williams said...

Wow - this totally sounds like something I should have gone to - to eat that is.

Next time you find out about competitions - let me know.


Núria said...

Congratulations!!! That's a fantastic result :D. Next year you will be one of the winners :D :D

Rosie said...

Congratulations! I am so pleased for you :) Your pie looks amazing coco!

Rosie x

Nikki said...

I'm so proud of you! Congratulations on your win and place! Yay! See? You're coming up, too. Add baker to your resume, too, OK? :)

Laurie said...

Congratulations! Is that a stamp design you used on your crust, I might have missed it in your write up but it looks awesome! How fun to have county pie baking contests!!

Deborah said...

Congrats! I see you winning the whole thing next year!

Scott said...

That's a great looking pie - Congrats on making the semi's!

I am a member of Tangleweed. This was our third year playing the Pie Contest. Our bass player and I also entered pies for the third year running. I made the finals in '06, and the semi's in '07, but did not fare as well this year. Oh well, it was a fun day anyway. Good luck honing your recipe for 2009!

chou said...

Courtney, I'm so glad you made it to the semis! Next year, top three, right! :)

Heather said...

Ooh, girl! Getting a taste of sweet victory so early! I'm glad to see it feeds your fire. Can't wait to see the next one!

Big Boys Oven said...

wow congratulations! well done!

Proud Italian Cook said...

Look at you!!! You made it to the semi finals! Great job Courtney, you should be very proud. Also, congrats on your Etsy shop, my, you
have so many talents. I thought for sure those watermelon rinds would be for sale :)

Dagmar - A Cat in the Kitchen said...

Congratulations!!!!! Very well done! The pie looks and sounds great, I'll definitly try it out!

Jeanne said...

I'm so thrilled for you - and next year, maybe a finalist? Or a winner?? I love the clever cinnamon decoration on top too, and the flavours sound heavenly. An American classic with a twist :)

Blog Princess G said...

Hooray! That pie has my mouth watering. By the way, I've tagged you for a very simple game. Hope you play... :)

linda said...

Great job, congratulations! It looks delicious! Love the addition of the star anise.

~~louise~~ said...

Such creativity, originality, such flair! I would have waited online forever just to get an up close and personal view of that Coco inspired Asian Apple Pie. A nibble would have certainly pushed me over the edge. Kudos to YOU Courtney!

Gabi said...

Congratulations on the semi-finals! I think your pie's a winner!

Sophie said...

Congratulations on your pie! It looks and sounds sensational, the crust looks beautiful! :) I would love to include your recipe in our pre-loaded Demy, the first and only digital recipe reader. Please email if you're interested.

kellypea said...

Serious congrats to you! That's quite the accomplishment. Apple pie is a favorite and I like the Asian spin you put on this. It sounds fabulous.

Susan said...

To have been hanging in your kitchen when this fab pie was bubbling and browning in the oven! The aroma must have been divine. Congrats on your ribbon! I want one of those veggie cutters.

Sunshinemom said...

This is just my thing! Congrats on making it to the semifinals:)