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And the Winner of the Annual Cutthroat Tunno Pumpkin Pie Competition is…

December 8, 2022

NATE! And ALESSANDRO, my two great-nephews.

I keep telling myself this does not mean I’ve lost my touch. Just because Nate is 13 and Alessandro is only six merely means that Tunnos are extremely competitive cooks/bakers. It also means, my nephew, Chris and I will have to keep trying.

Plus, there was a snafu this year. Two of the same pies were accidentally entered by Bob. In all the prep for Thanksgiving, and with all the pies in the same cooler, the extra pie he made with the leftover pumpkin got entered. .

No one realized that two of the pies were the same because they’re all in similar glass dishes and, after you’ve had your first three tastes of pumpkin pie, they all start tasting the same…to me anyway. Even Bob didn’t recognize the second one was his, until we were cleaning up after the votes were cast. This year, all the pies were good, even Bernie’s pie that looked like it escaped from a burn ward.

In preparing for the Cutthroat, I was doing some research into the best temperature to bake a pie crust, and the wisdom on that keeps changing as well. Dammit, I wish people would just make up their minds!

Me handing over the coveted trophy.

The recommendation has been that you bake at a high temp for 15 minutes then turn the heat to 350. But recently I read an article that said that pre-baking all pie crusts, even filled ones at a lower temperature is the best way. So, I’ll probably be making changes to my pie recipes…again. Here is the article from the New York Times, The Case for Baking Pastry Shells ‘Blind,’ At Low Heat.

Honestly, I couldn’t have been happier to pass the trophy on to Nate. Even though the words, kind and teenager, are seldom spoken in the same breath, Nate is the kindest teenager I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. He is funny, easy-going, brilliant, a great pumpkin pie baker, and fiercely competitive. I’ve seen him run races and his grit is a sight to behold.

And let me not forget Alessandro, my other great-nephew, who is six-years-old and won the Children’s Trophy. He’s been cooking with his dad, Patrick since he was able to hold a spatula. The kid is fearless and a remarkable cook. He not only watches everything his dad does in the kitchen, but has been an active participant since he was a toddler. He’s probably storing it in his brain for the day he wins on Iron Chef.

In retrospect, my big mistake was the nutmeg. I am changing my pumpkin pie recipe back to one without nutmeg. It can be a bit overpowering, even in small doses. If you do use it, just use a tiny pinch. It works in my pumpkin cake with butterscotch frosting, but 1/2 tsp. was too much in pumpkin pie.

So, c’est la vie. You can’t win ’em all. l am sorry this took so long, but holidays, baking, decorating, and just the thought of Christmas cards has kept me hopping. If you have a favorite pumpkin pie recipe, please pass it on to me. Clearly, I can use the help!

And please, if you haven’t signed up to follow my blog yet, what are you waiting for? Tell your friends too!

  • Reply
    December 9, 2022 at 11:11 am

    What fun you all have with the Pumpkin Pie contest each year, love seeing the youngsters get involved ! Thinking about all of my Tunno family in Pa, remembering the happy times our St. Louis family spent there at Christmas years ago. My mom, dad, sister & I would board the train at Union Station in St Louis, have a sleeping compartment and go thru the night to meet family in the am. It almost always snowed in Pa and was so beautiful when we arrived at Uncle Robert & Aunt Mary’s home. Then the food & fun began ❤️

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      December 19, 2022 at 10:01 pm

      Oh JoAnn, I was just thinking about that. I remember sitting in a car with your dad waiting for my dad who had to go into somewhere. He was tapping his fingers on the car seat and humming along with the song, Calcutta. That tells. you how long ago it was! Such lovely memories! I hope all is well with you and your family. I wish you all the best Christmas and a wonderful , healthy 2023! xoxo

  • Reply
    Chas Madonio
    December 8, 2022 at 10:46 am

    What a great family tradition you have. Merry Christmas.

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      December 8, 2022 at 1:06 pm

      Thank you Chas. It’s always fun, except after tasting so much pumpkin pie, it all starts tasting the same. But it does make Thanksgiving fun.

  • Reply
    December 8, 2022 at 8:03 am

    Fran, this is a fantastic family tradition! Inquiring minds would like to know the origin story of those trophies. I have a hunch they were not store bought 😉

    Love from south of the Mason-Dixon,

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      December 8, 2022 at 1:05 pm

      I believe my brother Bernie scrounged them up from trophies he had laying around. He used to coach a lot. He hot glued a turkey and some pumpkins on one and called it done. The kids trophy did have a gingerbread cookie couple hot glued on top, but it must have broken off. xoxoxo, I’ll find a link to how it started and send it to you. xoxoxox

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