I didn’t want to enter the county fair pie contest at all.  My experience with pie baking consisted of old-fashioned pies for Sundays and holidays – nothing that was worthy of a contest.  But my oldest daughter insisted and so I got up early on a hot August morning in 1983 to bake a pie for the Hamilton County Fair (Cincinnati, Ohio).  I had a lot of fresh blackberries we had picked in the wild bramble area behind the house and some green apples from the trees in the front yard.  It sounded like a good combination and I baked the pie.  I felt a little dismayed when I saw the juices had bubbled out of the top crust as usual, but cooled the pie, wrapped it in foil and started out for the fairgrounds.

Contest entries were flowing in by the time we got there.  It was an open class contest so there was every conceivable kind of pie – apple, strawberry rhubarb, blueberry, lemon meringue, chocolate cream, a fancy strawberry pie with mint leaf garnish – I was starting to get a little worried.  I didn’t want to embarrass myself with such a low-key entry.  I was only hoping for one of the runner-up baskets of apples with no thought of winning a ribbon.  The pies were being arranged on large tables set end-to-end and at one point I almost went over and removed my entry but my daughter insisted on going through with the ordeal.

It was an interesting experience watching the entrants and their supporters, the judges, the passers by – all in intense heat in an antique building with windows open and an occasional swishing electric fan.  There were 34 entries in all, each one lovely and surrounding my very ordinary-looking pie.  Finally, after about an hour and a half, the winners were announced, beginning with the runners-up – no basket of apples for me.  Then the third place was announced and the second – I was almost relieved that it was finally over – when I heard the blue-ribbon, Best of Show winner called – BLACKBERRY APPLE PIE!  I was astounded and went to the contest director to ask if there could be a mistake.  I couldn’t believe that a Sunday dinner pie had won this contest.

I had my picture taken for the newspaper holding my pie and blue ribbon in one hand and the Best of Show rosette and an engraved brass tray in the other.

Then, my daughter and I got to carry all this plus a half-bushel of apples through a very crowded Saturday afternoon fairgrounds midway to the parking lot.

I entered this pie in a lot of other contests after that and it always won for me, but I never again had the thrill that I had that hot August day when I WON THE PIE CONTEST!

BLACKBERRY APPLE PIE

  • Pastry for two-crust 9″ pie (See recipe here)
  • 3 cups blackberries
  • 1 cup peeled & thinly sliced green apple
  • 3 Tblsp. quick-cooking tapioca
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 Tblsp. butter
  • 1 Tblsp. milk
  • 1 Tblsp. sugar mixed with 1/8 tsp. cinnamon for topping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

In large bowl combine berries, apples, tapioca, 1 cup sugar, and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon.  Mix well and allow to set while preparing pastry.

Turn berry mixture in a pastry-lined 9″ pan.  Dot with butter, adjust top crust, cut vents and flute edges.  Brush top with milk and lightly sprinkle with sugar/cinnamon mixture.  Set pie pan on a larger flat pan to catch spills.

Bake @ 375 degrees F for 45-50 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack. 

A remake of the pie some years later with the coveted rosette.