My name is Logan and I’m a member of the supply chain team here at Jeni’s. I don’t know what other offices do for fun. Maybe they have lottery pools or golf outings or fight clubs. Whatever. Around here we have cooking and baking contests.
Our most recent showdown involved holiday cookies in four categories: taste, appearance, story, and overall winner. We included a story category since holiday cookies tend to have more sentiment and history behind them than most baked goods. I was fortunate enough to walk away with a win in the story category thanks to my Dream-Crusher recipe. It wasn’t really a recipe so much as a single store-bought cookie in a glass case with a very bitter note, but I think it resonated with people who shared my pain.
Thankfully there are plenty of other holidays that don’t involve any flaky, reclusive middlemen or emotional trauma. In fact, Pi Day on March 14 is fast approaching, and the office is abuzz with grand pie plans as we’ll be celebrating with a no-holds-barred pie bake-off.
Rules: Anything historically referred to as an edible pie goes. Plants, animals, it doesn’t matter. Hand pies, pizza pies, apple pies, fruit cream pies, pot pies, shepherd’s pies. We’ll be baking until we literally can’t bake anymore.
I’ve already had a taste of victory, and I’m hoping for another win. I’m going to pull as many strings as it takes to ensure that there’s a category that has nothing to do with pie quality, baking ability, or planning ahead. From there I’ll shoot straight to the top.
We’ll let you know when we have our winners, so keep an eye out.
We have our winners! That’s right, there’s an “s” there. Tied for best overall pie is the Key Lime Pie made by Jennie Norris (our accounts payable coordinator extraordinaire) and the Dutch Apple Pie created by Meredith Honaker (our incomparable procurement analyst). There were 14 fantastic entries in total, and after being subjected to our rigorous and shamefully gluttonous judging process these two pies stood out.
It would seem that baking competitions can be won in a couple of different ways. First, as we confirmed this week, being an excellent baker goes a pretty long way. I think that’s what our winners had in common. For the rest of us, there’s the second route: harboring a bitter resentment towards holiday icons. Ultimately I think we should all aim to find a balance between the two as we move through life.
As promised we’re posting the winning recipes, so fire up the oven if you haven’t already.
Key Lime Pie
- 5 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup key lime juice (about a whole bag of key limes)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon grated lime zest
- 2 eggs, yolks and whites separated
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Preheat the oven to 350° F.
For the crust: Combine butter and graham cracker crumbs. Pat down into a 9-inch pie pan. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes, until set.
For the filling: In a medium bowl, combine condensed milk, lime juice, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon lime zest. If needed, add more sugar to taste. Blend in egg yolks. Pour the filling into par-baked crust.
For the meringue: Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in 3/4 cup sugar and remaining lime zest until the mixture is stiff. Spread the meringue over the filling. Spread it to touch the edge of the crust all around. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the meringue is golden brown.
Dutch Apple Pie
- 1 cup Crisco
- 2 3/4 cups flour, plus 1 tablespoon
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup cold water
- 6 cups sliced apples
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 stick butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 350° F.
For the crust: With a pastry blender, mix Crisco and 2 cups flour until no flour pockets are left. Add water slowly, mixing with a fork. Stir in the least amount possible. The dough should hold together, but not be wet. Pat into a 9-inch pie pan.
For the filling: Toss apples with sugar, cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon flour. Pour evenly into the pie pan with crust.
For the topping: Using a pastry blender, mix butter into brown sugar and 3/4 cups flour until chunks of butter are smaller than a marble and the flour and sugar are incorporated well.
Sprinkle over the pie filling, making sure all of the pie is evenly covered.
Bake for 45 minutes or until crust is lightly browned and the filling is bubbling. (It’s a good idea to put a tray or foil underneath the pie to catch any drips while baking.)