A gooseberry pie with a special ingredient won best of show Thursday in the Missouri First Lady’s Pie Contest in the Home Economics Building at the Missouri State Fair.
Sandy McNally, of Warsaw, also placed first in the fruit pie category with her gooseberry while Sharon Bruner, of La Monte, placed first in the cream pie class with her banana, coconut and pecan pie. The women received their ribbons from Missouri’s First Lady Georganne Nixon.
McNally said her best of show pie was made with a touch of baking soda that helped smooth out the flavor of the tart gooseberries.
“I make my filling to start with,” she said. “I bring the gooseberries to a boil, and then I put the baking soda in that, and it takes away some of the acid.”
Although she said several people encouraged her the pie was a winner, she was uncertain. She was surprised to win best of show.
After winning and after the ceremony Nixon asked McNally how she made her winning pie. Nixon also sampled a taste.
“You did a great job,” she told McNally. “I’ve always loved gooseberries.”
McNally said she uses three-quarters of a teaspoon of baking soda for an eight-inch pie.
“The berries are so nice and round still,” Nixon told her. “Do you cook your bottom crust just a little first?”
“No,” said McNally. “The crust is all made of all lard.”
“Thank you for sharing your secrets,” Nixon told her.
McNally said she entered the contest five years ago and didn’t come back until this year.
“I made the worst pie I’ve ever made,” she said. “But, I’ve gotten a lot of practice, especially since I’ve retired.”
Nixon congratulated her in her persistence, saying it all paid off.
First place cream pie winner Bruner described her multi-layer banana, coconut and pecan pie, before the judging began Thursday.
“It’s got sliced bananas on the bottom and then a layer of filling,” she said. “Then you cool that and you make the coconut cream layer and let it cool. Then you mix the whipped cream and nuts.”
She said she chose that particular recipe because it “sounded interesting.”
Bruner’s triple berry pie, made with raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, also received second place in the fruit pie category.
Gayle Duncan, of Savannah, entered a double crust mocha espresso cream pie and an apple pie. Her apple received a third place ribbon. Duncan began entering the contest five years ago.
“I won the first time I came,” she said.
She received a first place ribbon that first year with her black raspberry pie. The second year garnered her second place for a chocolate French silk pie.
A friend of Duncan’s, Deavon Younger, of Oregon, Missouri, entered a cherry mash pie that received third in the cream pie class. When Gov. Jay Nixon visited the Home Economics Building Thursday, he requested to see the cherry mash pie.
Sedalian Faye Hunton, a seasoned pie baker, took a second place ribbon for her rocky road cream pie.
Before the event began several pie entrants spoke to the Democrat about their creations and why they entered the contest. Debbie Duncan, sister-in-law of Gayle Duncan, also of Savannah, made a “heavenly banafee” cream pie.
“The original recipe was supposed to be like a cookie-crumb crust, but I use a pastry crust,” she said.
She boiled three jars of sweetened condensed milk for several hours and then layered each with three sliced bananas. Then, a final layer of whipped cream, combined with marzipan, was added.
Hannah McClure, formerly of Sedalia, now living in Columbia, said this was her first time to enter. She made a fresh peach pie.
“I wanted to do a fruit that would be in-season during the time of the fair,” she said. “I had never done a peach pie before, but I knew early to mid-August is when they’d be ripe. I bought them last night and made it last night.”
Bob Stevenson, of Smithton, was the only man this year to enter the contest. He also brought a peach pie. Stevenson said he usually bakes cookies but he likes pie and decided to make his first one for the contest. Stevenson worked on his pie late Wednesday night.
“I took it out of the oven at 12:30 (a.m.),” he noted.
After presenting the ribbons First Lady Nixon said it was a “joy” to be involved with the contest for the last eight years.
“It has a great history,” she noted. “It was such an honor to be part of it.”
The Missouri First Lady’s Pie Contest is sponsored by Agri Missouri and Starline Brass of Sedalia.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.