ORLANDO, Fla., May 6 /PRNewswire/ -- It was a proud day for the California Raisin Marketing Board and for Andrea Spring of Bradenton, Fla., as the restaurant owner took Best of Show in the professional division of the 16th Annual American Pie Council® (APC)/ Crisco® 2010 National Pie Championships® for her Chocolate Raisin Walnut Pie.
This was the first year the raisin category was available to professional division bakers and the first time that a pie in the raisin category has ever won Best of Show in the prestigious baking competition. The raisin category is sponsored by the California Raisin Marketing Board and is offered in the amateur, professional and commercial level pie competitions.
The APC/Crisco® National Pie Championships were held April 23-25, 2010 at the Omni Orlando Resort at Champions Gate in conjunction with the APC Great American Pie Festival sponsored by Crisco. At the annual event, bakers of all skill levels, all ages, and all degrees of training, from all over the United States and Canada, competed in a bake-off to determine North America's best professional, amateur and commercial bakers as well as budding junior chefs. This year brought a record number of entries — 917 — among the four categories. It took 200 judges to eat their way through those pies to find the crème de la crème of North American pie bakers.
This year's professional competition consisted of 170 pies entered in nine categories: Apple, Crisco® Classic Cherry, Crisco® Classic Chocolate, Citrus, Cream, Fruit & Berry, Nut, Open and Raisin. First place winners were chosen in each of the nine categories with Best of Show selected from among the first place winners. While the apple category boasted 20 entries, only 12 professional bakers braved the relatively uncommon territory of raisin pies.
"When I saw that raisin was a new category in the professional division, I really wanted to tackle that because I like the challenge of the new and unusual," said Spring, who owns the Sign of the Mermaid Restaurant on Gulf Drive. "I love raisins, but I considered that a 'straight-out' raisin pie may not appeal to the masses. The first time I made the pie I knew the flavors were perfect for the contest. Pairing it with favorites like milk chocolate and walnuts enhances the raisins and creates a very appealing pie."
"We joined the APC and the championships because our 3,000 plus growers have talked about raisin cream pies for years," says Larry Blagg, Senior Vice President of Marketing, California Raisin Marketing Board. "As we've gotten more involved in the competition, we've been impressed by the myriad of creative ways competitors have used raisins beyond cream pie or the standard dutch apple pie. These ideas and the winning recipes offer opportunities for pie lovers to enjoy California Raisins in new, incredibly tasty ways."
Spring not only took first place in the raisin category but also in the cream category for her Hula Hula Pineapple Cream Pie with Fried Crust. She also won Best of Show in 2007 for her Gold Coast Key Lime Pie and first place for her Chocolate Espresso Explosion Pie.
"Winning two first place awards was exhilarating, but when I won another Best of Show my emotions got the best of me. Suddenly I was crying and laughing," said Spring. "After staying up until 4 a.m. baking and arriving at the turn-in, I discovered I wasn't the only one who had pulled an 'all-nighter.' Most of my fellow competitors had been up for 24 hours or more."
Amateur bakers also competed in the raisin category, with Carolyn Blakemore of Fairmont, W. Va., taking first place for her Raisin Delight Pie. Her award-winning recipe is available on the American Pie Council website, www.piecouncil.org.
As Best of Show professional winner, Spring received $5,000, a new Sears Kenmore range and a Crisco® gift basket. Emile Henry USA, makers of the finest quality ceramic bake ware and gourmet cooking products returned for 2010 as the "Official Pie Dish" of the National Pie Championships. Each junior, amateur and professional competitor received an Emile Henry ceramic pie dish, valued at $45 each.
A complete list of winners is available at www.piecouncil.org.
To enter, APC members pay $15 per pie entry for amateurs and $20 per pie entry for professionals. Non-members pay $35 per pie entry for either category. Junior entries are free. The American Pie Council offers individual membership for amateurs as well as professionals and commercial bakers. Pie lovers receive multiple benefits including the "Pie Times" e-newsletter, membership directory and member-only online "pie talk" access for idea exchange, pie recipes, coupons and discounted entry into the annual APC/Crisco® National Pie Championships. For more details, to become a member of the APC or to register for the National Pie Championships, visit www.piecouncil.org
Crisco® is a registered trademark of The J. M. Smucker Company. For more information, visit www.crisco.com.
The American Pie Council® is the only organization committed to maintaining America's pie heritage, passing on the tradition of pie-making and promoting America's love affair with pie. The APC offers personal, professional and commercial memberships. For more information, please visit www.piecouncil.org.
Chocolate Raisin Walnut Pie
by Andrea Spring, Bradenton, FL; First Place Raisin Category, APC Crisco® National Pie Championships
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons shortening*
1/4 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons milk
2 tablespoons hot water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
1 cup California raisins
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup dark corn syrup
In small bowl, combine shortening, vinegar and milk. Add hot water; mix well. In medium bowl, mix together flour, salt and cornstarch. Add shortening mixture. Mix until dough forms. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and let stand in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Then, roll out dough to fit 10-inch pie pan. Arrange in pie pan and crimp edges. Sprinkle and spread raisins, chocolate chips, and chopped walnuts evenly over bottom.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In large bowl, mix eggs, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, butter and corn syrup until well blended. Add chocolate chips and walnuts; mix well. Carefully pour over raisins in pie crust. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F and bake until center of pie is set; about 30 minutes.
Note: Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening preferred
For foodservice quantities, contact Julie Berge at firstname.lastname@example.org or (916) 492-5339.
About the California Raisin Marketing Board
The California Raisin Marketing Board was created by a State Marketing Order in 1998 and is 100 percent grower funded. Its mission is to support and promote the increased use of California-grown raisins and sponsor crop production, nutrition and market research. To learn more about the California Raisin Marketing Board and to browse delicious recipes, visit its Web site at www.LoveYourRaisins.com.
SOURCE California Raisin Marketing Board