10/02/13 — First-time pie bakers awarded

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First-time pie bakers awarded

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on October 2, 2013 1:46 PM

Alan Ledezma was so sure that he wasn't going to be taking away an award from the pie baking competition at the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair on Tuesday that when they were being handed out, he was sitting out in the audience playing a game on his cell phone.

"Then all of a sudden, they called my name and I was like, 'Oh.'" the 17-year-old said. "I almost dropped my phone."

Then he went to collect his first-place ribbon for his chocolate pie.

The Faith Christian Academy student had never made a pie in his life, but it was a home ec project.

"The home ec teacher set out a whole bunch of pie recipes and I saw the chocolate one and I like chocolate, so I chose it," Alan said. "The hardest part was the actual chocolate itself. I had to heat it up and mix it, heat it up and mix it. I thought it would never be done."

Now that he's a pro, having won first place for his first pie, Alan wants to enter the contest again next year. And he decided he'd make the pie again at home for his family.

Tracy Atkins took a first-place ribbon with her lemon pie.

"This was my favorite recipe of my mom's and she passed in 2011," the 52-year-old said. "She used to make it for me when I was a kid. She just made it whenever she was in the mood to. I just always loved it."

When Tracy would go to family reunions, she'd make sure to get a piece of lemon pie that another family member had made, but it just didn't measure up to her mother's.

But Tracy did a little tweaking on her mother's recipe.

"She actually used to put meringue on it," she said. "I was never that fond of meringue and I would always scrape it off. My mom never knew that. So I switched it up and used whipping cream for the topping so I will actually eat the topping."

Tracy also put lemon slices on the top in the middle to make it prettier.

"Appearance is something they judge on," she said, "and I was trying to come up with some way to decorate it."

Jean Pope entered the pie baking contest only because a friend who enters every year coaxed her into doing it.

"He said I keep telling him I make good pies, but he's never tasted one," the 53-year-old said.

But Jean didn't know what kind to enter. At first, she considered a pecan pie, something she does well, but thought there might be a lot of other pecan pies in the competition.

"I kind of wanted to try a sweet potato pie with a crunchy topping like on a casserole," she said.

So she looked through some recipes to find ratios of sugar and eggs and to see what kind of spices they called for.

"But I had a sweet potato pie recipe that I had used before," she said. "So I used fresh baked sweet potatoes, not canned ones, and used a topping from a casserole recipe. I also used a ginger cookie crumb crust."

She was amazed when her name was called out for a first-place ribbon.

"I don't even cook every day because I don't have a family," Jean said. "I just cook once in a while when I feel like it."

Alexis Cozine was also amazed when she won a first-place ribbon with her strawberry pie. It, too, was the first time the Faith Christian Academy student had ever made a pie.

"I don't really like pies," the 17-year-old said. "But I like this pie and I think I'm going to start making it for myself at home. So something good did come out of this contest -- I like pies now."