WINNER!
IOWA STATE FAIR
LOUISE PIPER'S APPLE PIE

WINNER!
KANSAS STATE FAIR
CHERYL CHRISTIANSEN'S PUMPKIN PIE

WINNER!
GEORGIA STATE FAIR
LUKE SMITH'S PECAN PIE

WINNER!
EASTERN IDAHO STATE FAIR
JANET GAMBLE'S CHERRY PIE

"Glass pans are best. You can see if the bottom is done"
—CHERYL CHRISTIANSEN

"For the judges, I turn my pies around in the oven so they get browned evenly," says Christiansen, 59. "But at home, my husband doesn't mind if they don't look perfect. He just wants more pie."

CHERYL CHRISTIANSEN'S PUMPKIN PIE

FOR THE CRUST

1½ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup shortening

4-5 tablespoons ice water

1 egg white, beaten until frothy

Combine flour and salt. Cut in shortening until it is the size of small peas. Add water a little at a time until the mixture holds together. Roll out the dough to fit a 9-in. pie plate. Trim and flute the edges and brush the bottom with egg white. Chill until ready to fill.

FOR THE FILLING

½ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ginger

¼ teaspoon cloves

2 eggs

1 15 oz. can solid-pack pumpkin

1 12 oz. can evaporated milk

Preheat oven to 425°. Blend the first 6 ingredients in a small bowl. In a second larger bowl, beat eggs lightly. Stir in pumpkin, then add the sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in milk, and pour the mix into the prepared crust. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350° and continue baking for another 40 to 50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack.

"Use apples that are locally grown—the closer to the source, the better"
—LOUISE PIPER

"I have to maintain my reputation," says Piper, 68, of her winning baking skills. "Everyone knows: Louise brings pie."

LOUISE PIPER'S APPLE PIE

FOR THE CRUST

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup vegetable or canola oil

¼ cup milk

In a large bowl, mix flour and salt. Pour oil into a liquid measuring cup and add the milk but do not stir. Pour the oil mixture into the flour mixture and stir until the dough can be formed into balls. Flatten each ball into a disc, and roll out each disc between two sheets of wax paper to form two pie crusts. Place the bottom crust in a 9-in. pie plate. Set the top crust aside.

FOR THE FILLING

2/3 cup granulated sugar

¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground coriander

1½ teaspoons grated orange zest

5 ½ cups of Braeburn, Golden Delicious and Fuji apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

1½ tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoon milk sparkling crystal sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°. Combine the first 7 items in a large bowl. Add apples and stir to coat with mixture. Scoop apples into the prepared crust. Dot with butter and cover with top crust, fluting the edges to seal. Cut steam vents and sprinkle sugar on the top crust, then drizzle with milk and dust with sparkling crystal sugar, if using. Bake for about 55 minutes, until top is golden brown. Cool on a rack.

"Make the crust a day ahead and freeze it. That makes it extra flaky"
—JANET GAMBLE

If using fresh cherries, "I add a few drops of red food coloring for color," says Gamble, 62.

JANET GAMBLE'S CHERRY PIE

FOR THE CRUST

1 cup shortening

2½ cups flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup milk

1 tablespoon vinegar

Combine the first 4 items and blend until coarse. Mix milk and vinegar and add to the flour mixture. Stir, knead and then split the dough into two evenly sized balls. Roll each ball into a disc, adding flour as necessary. If freezing, store dough in a Ziploc bag and thaw before using.

FOR THE FILLING

4 cups canned, drained cherries, juice set aside

1½ cups saved juice

4 tablespoons cornstarch

½-1 cup sugar (depending on the sweetness of the cherries)

1 teaspoon almond flavoring

Preheat oven to 350°. In a saucepan, combine 1 cup cherries with 2/3 cup juice and simmer for 3 minutes. Mix cornstarch, sugar and the remaining cherry juice and add to the simmering cherries. Boil mixture for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the remaining 3 cups of cherries and cool slightly before pouring into prepared crust. Dampen the edges of the bottom crust with water, then top with second crust. If a lattice top is preferred, cut the second crust into strips and, starting at the pie's center, lay the strips down in a weave pattern. Bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown.

"Toast the pecans. It makes them taste better"
—LUKE SMITH

Luke, 12, beat out his mother's mocha cappuccino pie for the fair's best-in-show prize.

LUKE SMITH'S PECAN PIE

1 deep-dish pie crust

3 eggs

½ cup sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

¼ cup butter, melted a dash of salt

1 cup pecans

Lightly toast the pecans on a cookie sheet and, at the same time, partially bake the pie crust at 350° for 10 minutes. In a blender, combine the eggs, sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt. Blend for about 1 minute. Add the toasted pecans, gently breaking them up by pulsing the blender 3 or 4 times. Pour this mixture into the pie crust and bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until set. Cool before cutting.

HOT GADGETS

Set of four Decorative Pie Leaf Cutters, $16; 877-812-6235; williams-sonoma.com

Sili Gourmet Silicone Pie Crust Protector (below), $8; 800-473-0506; wmboundsltd.com

Soft Grip Sil-Pin silicone rolling pin, $35, and Sil-Pin silicone pastry mat, $35; fiestaproducts.com for stores