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Crisp competition

Dorothy Bloemendaal emerged victorious from the Murray County Fair Thursday. Her pie was chosen as the winner of the annual apple pie judging contest. Erin Trester/Daily Globe1 / 2
Judges of the apple pie judging contest at the Murray County Fair tasted six entries Thursday. Erin Trester/Daily Globe2 / 2

SLAYTON — Dedicated bakers who entered their own unique apple pie during the Murray County fair’s apple pie judging contest Thursday came up against some stiff competition. 

Larry and Gail Byers, who own Stonegate Apple Orchard, have hosted this contest for a number of years.

“When we started, we would get about 30 entries, but usually now we get around 10 to 15 entries,” Gail Byers said.

While there were only six entries this year, the competition was fierce, and the six contestants and their families waited eagerly as one by one the judges tasted a sample of each pie.

One may not know what all goes into judging an apple pie contest, but Byers explains that it’s more than just the taste.

“First the whole pie is brought out for the judges to view, and the entire appearance of the pie is judged,” Byers said.

“Then when the judges get a sample, they judge the flakiness of the crust when it’s cut into, and last but not least, the flavor of the pie,” she added.

Each of those categories are worth 15 points, making the top score a total of 45 points.

After each pie was tasted and the results were tallied, a long-time competitor came out on top.

Dorothy Bloemendaal was announced as grand champion of the pie contest.

While she has entered the contest in previous years, this is the first time Bloemendaal made the winning pie.

She shared some of her secret ingredients she used in the pie and how she did things a little differently this year.

“Usually I make a lattice — that’s the criss-cross design you sometimes will see on apple pies, but this year I decided to use two different crusts for the apple pie,” Bloemendaal said.

Bloemendaal explained that she also used a mixture of different ingredients.

“I used three different kinds of apples, ranging from tart to sweet. I also used two different kinds of sugars, and I used both butter and lard,” Bloemendaal added.

While she may have been inventive with some of the pie ingredients, she also stuck to a few classic rules.

“For the crust you should always use two different kinds of shortening, because it will come out flakier when you do this, and always poke a few holes in the center of the pie to aerate it,” Bloemendaal said.

Bloemendaal also shared some other tips she has learned after baking many apple pies.

“You should always use ice cold water, not room temperature, and I read in a magazine that you should never mix the crust with your hands, always use a fork,” she said.

Even though there was only one grand champion, the other contestants didn’t need to feel left out as each pie was displayed, and attendees could buy a slice of any of the entries.

Even though all the apple pie is gone, there are still lots of events and more food available at the Murray County fair as it continues through Sunday.

Erin Trester
Erin Trester is the crime and city reporter for the Daily Globe. She's a native of Lewiston, MN, but moved to Buffalo, NY to attend college and obtained her bachelor's degree in Communications. She started at the Western New York Catholic Newspaper as a reporter in Buffalo, but in October 2013 she returned to her home state to start with the Daily Globe. Most of her spare time is taken up by her 13-year-old thoroughbred named Faith, but some of her other hobbies include reading, fishing and spending time with friends and family. 
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