Sweet taste of victory
|By Joe Torok|
DeWitt baker produces top pieIt’s official: Greater Lansing is home to the best fruit pie in the country. Cherry pie, to be exact, baked by Linda Hundt, of Sweetie-licious Bakery Café in DeWitt, and sanctioned by a blue ribbon at the National Pie Championship in Orlando. The annual contest is sponsored by Crisco and the American Pie Council and televised on Food Network.
In total, Hundt — decked out in a throwback apron and sprightly as the day is long — walked away with five first place ribbons, including Best in Show honors for her Tom’s Cherry Cherry Cherry Berry pie. The task was not an easy one; Hundt was up against more than 130 competitors, including name brand, commercial bakers. Being a few thousand miles from home didn’t help, either.
Hundt normally bakes her pies, which are filled with up to eight cups of fruit, in a commercial oven, but in Orlando she had to use a typical household oven. The humidity and sea level difference were variables that also needed to be accounted for, but the biggest obstacle might have been the ingredients; Hundt usually relies on local produce. "It is somewhat surreal to think I ended up winning," she said.
While in Orlando, Hundt also got a taste of television production schedules. The crews covering the event recorded her and other contestants baking pies, but her grand-prize winner never made it onto film. So after the fact, Hundt donned her apron and acting hat and made the pie again for the TV cameras, straining to subdue and conceal her excitement after having won the prestigious award.
The dedication of the pie made the victory all the more special. Hundt personalizes every recipe she bakes, dedicating pies to friends or family who have affected her or her family’s lives. This particular cherry pie was made in honor of Tom Hundt, Linda’s State Trooper brotherin-law, who valiantly battled brain cancer before dying in April, a week before the competition. Linda said Tom Hundt constantly gave her confidence in her confectionary venture, not to mention handyman skills when her shop needed drywall or other projects.
Along with inspiration and elbow grease, Hundt said ingredients are key — the secret, in fact. "Michigan cherries, Michigan blueberries," she said with pride.
Hundt said. "All day long, people come in here happy and they leave just as happy. I have the best job ever."
Ribs for your pleasure