When Pam Regentin won the Shortt Supply 12th Street Pie Baking Contest Saturday, she was elated but not all that surprised.
This was, after all, no humble pie she had baked.
“I was very serious about winning,” she said. “I was very meticulous about every little detail. I was making a contest pie. This was no ordinary pie I was going to serve my family.” And indeed, the 12 judges charged with the difficult task of picking the best apple pie out of 60 entries — and awarding the $1,000 prize put up by Brian Shortt — seemed to agree: this was no ordinary apple pie.
Regentin, who lives in Mt. Hood in a three-generation household that includes her husband, their seven children and her husband’s mother, spent days working up to this pie. She tested various types of apples by baking pies and dumplings.
“I tested apples that people said were good for pies, like Pippins,” Regentin said. “But I found they lost their flavor after they were baked.” She knew she needed an apple that would remain tart and sweet after baking. “And also not turn mushy,” she added.
After much trial and error, she tried Elstars, and knew she’d found her apple. In all, she baked “about four” pies — and countless servings of apple dumplings — for taste testing by her seven kids.
“They gave me a lot of feedback,” Regentin said. When it came time to bake The Pie, she was ready.
“I was pretty confident what the pie was going to need to win,” she said. “And I focused on making the best pie I could make.” Regentin thinks one of the keys to her victory was that she got up early on Saturday morning to bake her pie.
“I took the pie hot, and it had been cooling about two hours by the time the judges tasted it,” she said. “It was the perfect temperature. A warm, fresh pie will taste better anytime than a cold, day-old pie.”
On Saturday, the judges obviously agreed. When they announced Regentin the winner, she was momentarily speechless.
“It took a while to sink in,” she said. “My 16-year-old said, ‘Mom, that’s gnarly.’” But it didn’t take Regentin long to think about what winning the contest meant, beyond the personal honor and the prize money.
“God has been very good to me and my life is very blessed,” she said. “I have a very happy and full life and therefore I’m very glad I have an opportunity to do something I’m good at, which is bake a few pies that can be auctioned to benefit the Helping Hands women’s shelter and the women and children who have not been as fortunate as I have been.” One of the requirements of the contest was that the winner would bake five more pies to be auctioned off, with the proceeds going to Helping Hands.
Regentin, who is a potter, plans not just to bake the pies for auction, but to make the pie plates to go with them.
“I hope that when the pies are auctioned, people will be very generous in their support of the women’s shelter,” she said.
Regentin also hopes the attention generated by the contest will encourage more people to bake pies.
“It’s becoming a lost art,” she said. “People are so intimidated by pie, by pastry crust. It’s hard to learn the technique, but once you’ve got it, you’ve got it. I encourage people to practice.”
As for the $1,000 prize money?
“There are about a thousand ways to spend it,” said Regentin, who has no pie-in-the-sky plans for the money. “My husband and I are talking about taking a weekend.”