Baking for Bethesda: It’s time to get your pie on

WASHINGTON – Calling all bakers, tasters and lattice-crust makers: It’s time to put your culinary creating, and sampling, skills to the test.

Bake Bethesda a Pie, the annual contest from Central Farm Markets, is gearing up for its fourth event, which will take place at the end of the summer.

Debra Moser, marketing director for Central Farm Markets, says the organization founded the event in 2009 as a way to bring the community to the market.

“It’s more than just a place to come and buy your food. It’s a place where you can come and have an educational experience and a community experience,” says Moser, who modeled the contest after a simpler time.

“Going back to the old days where people came out and there were pie contests in little towns, I thought this would be a lot of fun.”

This year, Moser is expecting more than 50 amateur home cooks to enter the community competition — and some of them will be much smaller than others.

After receiving interest from younger chefs over the past few years, Bake Bethesda a Pie opened up the contest to children ages 8-17.

“We really didn’t know what we were going to get with the children, but last year we had a slew of pies from kids whose parents told us they had stayed up all night baking their pies — and they did it alone.”

In addition to expecting a variety of ages, Moser is also expecting a variety of pies, which will be judged in two different categories: sweet and savory.

One of the most unique entries Moser has seen over the years was a square pecan pie with a maple leaf on top of it. And the most unusual? A form of a meat pie.

“We’ve had some beautiful pie designs. We’ve had square pies, we’ve had tomato pies, we’ve had all sorts of different kinds of pies that we didn’t expect,” says Moser, who says some of the more common ones are peach pies and other fruit pies. “You can imagine with the abundance of fruit this time of year.”

All of the pies are tasted, scored and judged by three well-known professionals in the food industry.

The pies are judged based on look, crust consistency, the filling and the originality of the pie.

“Our definition of pie is that it has to have at least one crust. It can be a bottom crust, a top crust, but it has to have a crust,” Moser says.

This year’s judges are Aviva Goldfarb, the founder of the dinner planning service The Six O’Clock Scramble; David Hagedorn, food writer; and pastry chef Ed Lichorat.

After judging is over, the pies are cut and served to a group of hungry spectators — last year’s contest attracted more than 200 people.

While the event is free, Central Farm Markets asks for a $5 donation to Manna Food Center, a Montgomery County food bank. Last year’s Bake Bethesda a Pie raised more than $1,000 for the nonprofit.

“This (event) has really grown. I think the small town quality of it, and the fact that people are really baking and getting into it and the community comes together and it’s for a good cause, I think all of that has brought people together. And it has grown and grown and grown.”

Registration for the Sept. 1 event is now open online.

WTOP’s Rachel Nania contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP and @WTOPliving on Twitter.

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