Can you bake a cherry pie?

Posted on March 7, 2009


I cannot bake a decent cherry pie.  Fortunately Antrim County is full of people who can, and as soon as I find one of them who needs a job of writing done, my life will be perfect.  Meanwhile . . .

Last Saturday Friske Orchards in Atwood held its 6th Annual Cherry Recipe contest.  This year’s categories were breakfast and pie, and there would be samples. Think of that. The opportunity to taste the cherry specialties of some of the best cooks in the County.  Miss Sadie, the Cowboy and I marked our calendar.  

Aside from the promise of treats, the celebrity factor was a consideration.  The judges were Chef Pete Peterson of fabled Tapawingo in Ellsworth, Emily Tyra, Food Editor of Traverse Magazine,  radio host Ron Jolly of WTCM 580 and Babette Stenuis Stolz, People Editor of the Petoskey News Review.    

When we arrived, the place was packed with contestants, friends and supporters of contestants, and people from the neighborhood having breakfast at the cafe and wondering whattheheck? The finalists’ freshly-prepared dishes were displayed on a long table. The judges were served. They tasted. They made notes. They conferred.  The suspense was unbearable. 

Judges sample one of the entries

Emily Tyra, Babette Stenuis Stolz, Ron Jolly, Pete Peterson

OK, maybe not unbearable.  This is northern Michigan, and lots of the contestants knew each other pretty well.  While they waited for the results, they compared baking techniques and asked about each other’s kids and grandkids and had a lovely time.  But they wanted to win, too.  The prizes were good.  Tidy sums of cash.  Overnight stays at Black Star Farms and the Jordan Inn.  A cookbook from The House on the Hill.  An oil change at Bruce’s Mobile Repair.  Best of all, in the Cowboy’s opinion, every finalist received a Friske’s Goodie Bag.

Friske's Goodie Bags

After considerable discussion, the judges announced their findings. Congratulations and presentations all around, and then the crowd descended on the buffet as if they hadn’t just had breakfast.

Winners of the 2009 Cherry Breakfast Recipe Contest

Winners of the 2009 Cherry Breakfast Recipe Contest
Left to right:

  • 1st place: Diane Nemitz of Ludington – Michigan Baked Oatmeal
  • 2nd place: Virginia Rubingh of Ellsworth – Cherry Breakfast
  • 3rd place: Rose Sickle of Traverse City – Company Baked French Toast

Winners of the 2009 Cherry Pie Recipe Contest

Winners of the 2009 Cherry Pie Recipe Contest 
Left to right:

  • 1st place: Sandy Barnes of Eastport – Cherry Cherry Cherry Pie
  • 2nd place: Norma Darr of Troy – Frozen Dark Cherry Yogurt Pie
  • 3rd place: Betty Renner of Central Lake – Crumb-topped Deep Dish Cherry Pie

Any advice for future contestants? “We all wished that there had been less sugar,” said Chef Pete Peterson. “Too much of it masks the taste of the other ingredients.” (I did not offer him the recipe for Scalloped Pineapple. That will be our little secret, OK?)

I promise to post all the recipes at Winning recipes from the 2009 Friske’s Cherry Recipe Contest just as soon as I can keyboard them.