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Apples typify autumn at its best. At our Third Annual Apple Dessert Contest, the inviting flavors and aromas of pies, dumplings and cakes meshed tradition with newer presentations for dishes that make the season a winner.

Betty Collins, of South County, brought Apple Custard Cream Pie as the winner of dishes appealing to those who wish they could grow a tree with apple pies on it. The Apple Kuchen of Beverly Schoenbeck, also of South County, took top prize among other desserts. The Home Builders Association of St. Louis and Eastern Missouri, STLmomsanddads and Suburban Journals sponsored the event.

With more desserts than pies among finalists, the bakers used more apple varieties, too. Golden Delicious, sweet and ripe, drew their vote along with Galas, Fujis and Granny Smiths this year.

One of the judges, Jerry Mills of Mills Apple Farm in Marine, Ill., said it had been his orchard's best year. He sponsors an apple festival with tree-ripened fruit, cider and made-from-scratch desserts all weekend at the Home and Remodeling Show, where the contest was held on Sunday, Oct. 16, at the St. Charles Convention Center.

"It will be hard to duplicate," he said of this year's results. He always is a big fan of desserts he samples at the contest.

Other judges were Mayor Sally Faith and Councilman Ron Stivison of St. Charles; Al Beltranena, director of food and beverage of the convention center and Dr. Lori Verderame, antiques appraiser at the home show and author of the "Art and Antiques" column in Suburban Journals.

Other pie winners were Ellen Hanff, of O'Fallon, second place for Apple Rhubarb Pie; and Susie Pini, who earned third place with Pecan Crumb-Topped Apple Pie.

Terri Pipes, Ferguson, took second place among desserts with Apple Bundt Cake, while Deidre Daniels, of Chesterfield, captured third place with Christopher's Home Run Bars, named after her No. 1 taster-son.

Other finalists were Janet Griffith, of Maryland Heights, Apple Dumplings; Joyce LaJeunesse, of St. Peters, Caramel Apple Pizza; Melissa Wilkinson, of Ladue, Apple Pie Pithiviers; Lisa Rapp, of South St. Louis County, with Cinnamon Spiced Apple Cheesecake, and Margie Reeves, of South County, Cocoa Apple Cake.

Each warm pie, as it was unveiled, elicited positive responses — they sounded like "Oh, yum!" — from the hostesses. Of course, each one received the individual admiration of one of the three workers. It just shows that apple beauty — even Rome Beauty — is in the eyes and taste buds of the beholder.



Apple Custard Cream Pie

Unbaked pastry shell for 9-inch single-crust pie

6 apples, peeled, sliced

3 eggs, beaten

1 tbsp. flour

2 tbsp. cornstarch

1-1/4 cups sugar

3 tbsp. butter, softened 1 cup milk

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place apples in prepared pastry shell.

In bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, 1 cup sugar and butter with eggs. Add milk and stir well. Pour over apples. Sprinkle with mixture of 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon.

Bake in preheated oven 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake about 45 minutes until custard sets.

Apple Kuchen

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened

1 pkg. (2 layer) yellow cake mix

1/2 cup flaked coconut

2-1/2 cups sliced, peeled, baking apples

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup dairy sour cream

2 egg yolks or 1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut butter into dry cake mix until crumbly. Mix in coconut. Pat lightly into ungreased 13-by-9-inch baking pan, building up edges slightly. Bake in preheated oven 10 minutes.

Arrange apple slices on warm crust. Mix sugar with cinnamon and sprinkle on apples. Blend sour cream and egg yolks. Drizzle over apples; topping will not completely cover them. Bake 25 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Do not overbake.

Serve warm.