Students compete in apple pie contest

October 18, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

Joni Mason carefully braided thin rolls of dough and placed them around the crust of her apple pie. She cut a simple pattern in the top, put aluminum foil around the edges and slid the pie into one of the ovens at Musselman High School.

Maybe she's a perfectionist. She wasn't happy with the crust and when the oven started smoking from filling that had overflowed, it was the final straw.

"It didn't turn out that good," said Mason, 17, a senior.

Mason was one of approximately 80 students from Berkeley and Jefferson counties who baked pies Friday morning for the Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival. Other students had better luck.


Senior Amanda Shanholtz, a fellow student at Musselman, was named the contest's grand champion. She competed against not only fellow high school students, but also 14 adults.

In the junior division, Musselman High School student Stephanie James finished in first place, Hedgesville High School student Kimber Rudesill finished second and Musselman High School student Zach Sharp finished third.

In the adult division, first place went to Jennifer Falcone of Great Falls, Va.; second place was awarded to Dale Dugan of Bunker Hill, W.Va.; and while Sue DeHaven of Martinsburg placed third.

At 11 a.m. today, all pies from the junior and senior divisions will be auctioned at the Berkeley County Youth Fairgrounds.

At Musselman High School Friday morning during third period, several students were making pies under the supervision of teacher Susan Bucey. They asked questions. She answered.

Where's the milk?

Can I leave my leftover shortening in class?

How can I prevent the dough from sticking to the pastry cloth?

Is it all right to place cinnamon on top?

She pointed out the milk, accepted the shortening, advised that more flour might need to be sprinkled on the cloth and said cinnamon should be used sparingly.

Some may have looked around the Bucey's classroom/kitchen and sensed chaos. Bucey, a teacher for 33 years, sensed competence.

Looking over the pies students in earlier classes had made - including Shanholtz's pristine apple masterpiece - Bucey said they were far superior to the first pies students made. They baked several pies in previous weeks for practice.

"They have come a long way. Pie-making is definitely an art," Bucey said.

An apple pie is the first dish students learn to make, she said, and the most difficult.

Ross Palmer, 16, sifted his flour with salt and carefully rolled out fresh dough. He tried not to touch it too much for fear it would become soggy if handled.

His practice pies have been well-received at home.

"They like them. They don't last too long. Of course, that's just about any kind of food at my home," Palmer said.

Golden delicious apples are the best, but were not the variety provided by festival organizers. All bakers had to use apples and pie plates that were provided, but they were responsible for bringing all other ingredients.

Some opted for a special touch.

Emma Hoover, 17, dabbed spoonfuls of caramel to the top of her apples.

"I guess it just gives it a different taste," Hoover said. "I've always liked caramel apples so I thought I'd make a caramel apple pie."

Bucey encouraged individuality.

"They can do whatever they want," she said. "They worked on creating their own look."

Some cut unique patterns into their top crust, while others cut out apple shapes in leftover dough and stuck them on top.

Bakers each had a partner who washed dishes and peeled, cored and sliced the apples using a tabletop peeler. Bucey said the machines have proven to be a great investment since they keep the apple slices thin and prevent sliced fingers.

Palmer's partner, 16-year-old Shane Dietrich, was the self-proclaimed best assistant.

"I do everything really quick and I get it done precisely," he said.

As he watched Palmer trim the crust with a pair of scissors, he made a prediction.

"I think we have the prize-winning pie right there," Dietrich said.

"I hope so," Palmer said.

Bucey said she wants her students to learn more than how to make a pie.

"I hope they learn how to read recipes and follow directions," she said. "It is a good experience for them."

She also hopes they learn how to make a decent pie crust, since she said store-bought ones do not compare.

After an electronic tone signaled the end of third period, students from the next class started to file into the kitchen. They studied the fragrant, finished pies.

"I'm discouraged looking at these pies," said Stefan Reid, 17. "Things aren't looking too good for my pie."

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