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Piecing together the perfect pie
Local bakers hope to claim a prize in weekend contest
Mary Jo Moffatt makes her special Corn Bread Pie, which won second place in the savory pie category in the Lumpkin County Literacy Coalition's annual Pie Baking and Pie Tasting.
Vinegar Pie     
1 stick butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 tablespoon vinegar
3 whole eggs
1 9-inch baked pie shell
Combine butter, vanilla, sugar, flour, vinegar, and eggs. Pour into pie shell. Bake at 300 F for 45 minutes.
Mexican Corn Bread Pie
1 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 beaten eggs
1 cup milk
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup canola oil
1 can cream style corn
1 1/3 pound lean ground beef
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 pound shredded cheddar
1 can drained Rotel
Mix first seven ingredients and set aside. Saute and drain the ground beef and onion. In a large cast iron skillet at 1/2 cup oil, coating bottom and sides well. When oil is heated, pour into the cornmeal mixture and mix well, using a spoon. Pour half of corn bread mixture into hot skillet. Layer beef and onion and cheese over cornmeal and add one can drained Rotel tomatoes. Pour remaining corn bread mixture over layers. Bake at 350 F for 45 to 50 minutes, or until golden brown or firm to the touch.
Mary Jo Moffatt, Dahlonega

Sweet or savory, pie flavors can offer a little bit of everything.

Whether it’s traditional, a loaf-style or even a fried pie, the options may seem endless if you plan on entering a pie-baking contest. Some bakers start with something familiar and go from there.

“I enter stuff into the contest that I have made for years that my kids ate,” said Mary Jo Moffatt, who will enter the pie-baking contest this weekend for the Lumpkin County Literacy Coalition.

In 2008, Moffatt entered a Mexican Corn Bread Pie and placed second in the savory pie category. She said the trick to making it is to have an iron skillet and the oil hot.

“You can eat if with dinner or a salad if you want to, and I usually say to put some sour cream and salsa on it,” she said.

The Mexican Corn Bread Pie is corn bread, corn, ground beef and Rotel tomatoes, along with cheese and a few other ingredients.

This weekend, Moffatt plans on entering a Beef and Cheddar Pie and hopes to place again this year.

The third annual Lumpkin County Literacy Coalition Pie Baking and Pie Tasting will be Saturday at Hancock Park in Dahlonega. There will be cash prizes awarded in the sweet and savory categories, along with prizes for “People’s Choice” and “Best of Show.”

All proceeds will be donated to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program in Lumpkin  County to assist in the purchase of books.

Many new activities for children are planned, including Douglas Brake & the Sizzle-Hiss-Pop Band and the David Brothers Band, plus face painting and balloon animals.

It is past the deadline to enter the contest, but guests pay $10 to taste five slices of pie for the fundraising event that helps encourage literacy and imagination through reading.

Paula Allen is entering her Vinegar Pie for the third year in a row, hoping finally to receive a ribbon.

“It sounds terrible; you might say it’s a little bit of vinegar and a lot of sugar,” she said. “A very close friend gave me the recipe. It came from her family and she shared it with me years ago.”

Don’t let the name fool you, though — its ingredients are more than vinegar.

“I use butter, sugar, eggs — it only has three teaspoons of vinegar, but I’m going to put a little more of that this year — vanilla, pecans,” she said. “It’s just something different that no one would never think of. It’s a pie to be set aside as different from all other pies. It’s not a bitter taste at all, it’s not a vinegar taste at all.”

Although, Allen said she thinks this year might be the last year with the Vinegar Pie. Next year plans are in the works for a sweet Georgia Peach Pie.

“During the summer we really like fresh fruits and I try to stick to the good Georgia fruits we have, peaches and blueberries. And of course, everybody likes the Key lime (pie),” Allen said. “I like the cream pies; chocolate cream is my favorite.”

Making a great pie, Allen said, takes a balance of flavors and textures in the kitchen.

“I think a balance of sugar and vanilla. Vanilla adds a lot, for me, for the taste of any dessert, and using the rich butter,” she said. “If you want a pie or a cake to be very good, you use the real ingredients — butter and whole milk.

“You have to be bad occasionally.”

But Ed Hesse, who placed third last year in the savory pie category, said a great pie is inspired by imagination.

“The Wednesday before the Saturday event I had a brainstorm and that’s always dangerous,” he said. “ I remember by sister-in-law makes fried apple pies and so that’s what I decided to do with the barbecue, rather than on a bun.

“So made my barbecue the way I normally do and it does come out good, and then I got some dough and flour and all that stuff and made a pie shell for the fried apple pie and put the meat in the middle and then put it in a deep fryer and tested the time that the coating looked good.

“In two minutes I had a perfect looking brown shell.”

After trial and error, Hesse decided to have the barbecue sauce on the side as a dip.

“I tried it with the sauce, but because of the small amount of meat in the pie, it overpowered it,” he said. “I also tried pepper jack cheese in there but the cheese didn’t melt all the way in there.”