RochesterAugust 22, 2012
Group seeks bakers for annual apple baking contest
By Mary Beth Almond
C & G Staff Writer
It’s apple season in Rochester, and the sometimes sweet, sometimes tart fruit has begun to pop up in kitchens throughout the area.
Bundles of apples will soon make their way to the Older Persons’ Commission, 650 Letica, which is looking for volunteers to help make apple pies for its 38th annual Apple Pie Fundraiser.
OPC Executive Director Marye Miller said Michigan apples were significantly harder to come by this year than in years past.
An early heat wave followed by a cold, frost-filled spring resulted in the largest apple crop loss since the 1940s, according to the Michigan Apple Committee. Growers, shippers and other experts from across the state predict a crop size of about 3 million bushels, a significant loss compared to the average crop size of 20 million-23 million bushels.
“There are absolutely no apples on this side of the state to buy in bulk like we buy. … People are shipping them in from Washington and other places, but we wanted to keep using Michigan apples,” Miller said.
After much searching, the OPC was finally able to secure a Michigan source of apples — Friske’s Orchard in Traverse City — to continue its tradition of baking homemade apple pies for the Apple Pie Fundraiser, which supports the nutrition and program departments of the OPC.
“Apples are so scarce. We have had to go to the other side of the state and get apples this year,” Miller said. “They are very costly to get and to get them shipped over. It’s at least one-fourth more for a bushel of apples this year. … It was hard. But we did do it, and there will be homemade pies from fresh Michigan apples.”
As a result of the crop loss, Miller said, the OPC wil be selling about half of their typical 3,000 pies and apple teacakes during this year’s fundraiser — which usually brings in about $20,000.
“This year, if we make $10,000 we’ll be doing good,” she said.
The pie-baking assembly takes place Sept. 4-7, and the OPC is in need of volunteers of all ages to help out.
“Volunteers peel the apples, slice them, put the apples in the sugar and flour, and then into dough pans. They’ll be making the top crust, crimping it and putting them into the oven. We need strong men to work with the ovens, so if there are any strong men out there that want to pull them out of the ovens and put them out to cool, that would be awesome,” Miller said.
To get involved with baking, call the OPC volunteer line at (248) 608-0270.
The OPC’s fresh homemade apple pies are available for purchase inside the OPC and at a drive-up tent located in the center’s upper parking lot Sept. 5-8. They’re $15 each, or two for $25. The apple tea cake is $7 per loaf. Apple pies will also be sold inside Crittenton Hospital Sept. 5-6.
Bakers who believe they make the best apple pie, or any other apple dessert, are invited to submit their creations for the sixth-annual baking contest during the 47th Art & Apples Festival Sept. 7-9 in Rochester’s Municipal Park.
“The first three years, it was strictly pies, and then we added a dessert category because so many people wanted to bake something else,” said Anna Biliti, who runs the contest for the PCCA.
This year’s contest begins at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 8. Six judges sample the entries and decide the first-, second-and third-place bakers in the competitions for both the best apple pie and best apple dessert. At press time, this year’s panel of judges was slated to include Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett, WXYZ Channel 7 personality Dave Lewallen, Miss Oakland County Shelby Gardiner and Royal Park Hotel pastry chef Mark Slessor.
Winners in each category, announced at approximately 12:30 p.m. on the main stage, will receive a handmade dessert or pie dish created by an exhibiting artist. First-place winners will also have their recipe featured in the 2013 Art and Apples Festival event guide.
“It can be very competitive,” Biliti said.
Some of the most unique apple dishes entered in the contest — according to Biliti — have been organic dessert pizza, Tuscan apple cake, apple ice cream, apple jam spring rolls, bourbon apple pie cupcakes, apple chai cake and skillet apple pie.
Those interested in participating in the contest can download an application at www.ArtandApples.com. Registration is $5 per baker, and applications must be submitted by Sept. 4. All proceeds benefit Paint Creek Center for the Arts.
For more information about the Art & Apples Festival, call (248) 651-4110 or visit www.ArtandApples.com.
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