After a pandemic pause in 2020, six Oak Park bakers delivered their best pies for judgement at the annual Oak Park Farmers Market bake-off Oct. 9. The pies, laid out on a table covered with a green and white checkered cloth, ranged from traditional apple to unexpected blackberry chiffon. Three judges tasted their way through the homemade pies before naming Monica Fiala’s spiced latte pumpkin pie as the first-place finisher.
Both professional and amateur bakers were encouraged to enter the contest and all pies prioritized the use of farmers market ingredients. Irrespective of filling choice, all entered pies were required to be hand-made from filling-to-crust. Fiala’s pie featured eggs from Finn’s Ranch and made use of a fresh pie pumpkin from R. Smit’s and Sons.
Oak Park Farmers Market commissioner, Dina Ross, served as event emcee as Jess Green, food Instagrammer jess_in_the_box and farmers market commissioner and Bella Garcia, youth judge and 2019 winner, joined me to blind-taste and judge the six pies entered in the Oak Park Farmers Market pie bake-off. Pies were judged on appearance (25%), taste (50%), and creative use of farmers market ingredients (25%).
The Pakistani Perfection (Apple Pie) made by Azmer Khan finished second, while a French Apple Cream Cheese Pie made by Demetri Sianis took third place honors. Fiala’s winning pumpkin pie took top honors because of its creative use of farmers market ingredients, appealing slice and rich seasonal flavor profile. The judges noted the pies were all a treat to eat!
First place spiced latte pumpkin pie
Recipe courtesy of Monica Fiala and the Oak Park Farmers Market
1 ½ C graham cracker crumbs, finely crushed
1 ½ Tablespoons white sugar
1 ½ Tablespoon brown sugar
6 Tablespoons melted butter
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 pie pumpkin (need 2 Cups pureed pumpkin)
14 ounce can evaporated milk
¾ C. brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger
¾ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
Dash of ground cloves
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
½ Cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1. Set oven to 375 degrees
2. Mix all ingredients until combines and press into pie pan. Bake five minutes in oven.
3. Keep oven at 375 degrees
4. Cut pumpkin in half and remove seeds. Place pumpkin cut side down on baking sheet.
5. Put pumpkin in oven and roast for about one hour, or until pumpkin is tender.
6. Puree the pumpkin in a blender or food processor and measure 2 cups.
7. Mix pumpkin with remaining ingredients until smooth. Pour into pie crust.
8. Bake 40 minutes or until pie is set.
9. Heat cream (do not boil) in a small saucepan.
10. Add in espresso powder and mix.
11. Remove from heat and pour cream into a bowl.
12. Add in chocolate and mix until smooth.
13. Let cool until ganache is cool to touch, but not hardened, then pour over the top of the pie as desired.