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A slice of heaven—GUMC pie-palooza



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April 23, 2014 - Goodrich- Apple pie. Blueberry pie. Boston cream pie. Chocolate pie. Coconut cream pie. Chicken pot pie. Ice cream pie.

All these pies and more, in all 102 pies and quiches and even cheesecake, will be found at the 12th annual silent pie auction, planned for 6 p.m., May 4, at the Goodrich United Methodist Church, 8071 S. State Road.

"It's fun, an awesome event, it really is," said Sandy Martin, GUMC member and founder of the annual pie event. "It's combined with a concert of all our choirs and bands at the church, too."

The public is welcome to the event, with all proceeds used to help families in need in the Goodrich School District, as well as purchase sound equipment for the church's Family Life Center.

The event has grown from about 35 pies in the first year and about $1,000 raised, to $2,656 raised in 2013 from the one-night only event. This year, 52 bakers have signed on to make 102 pies total. Some make only one pie, some make two, and a few make as many as seven— such as Barb Maki, a 75-year-old Goodrich resident, who began making pies around the age of 12, under the expert tutelage of her mother, who recently died at the age of 95.

Maki makes fruit pies, and is especially renowned for her apple pie, but says she also does a good job with the raspberry pie.

"I also have a wonderful rhubarb custard and that recipe comes from my mother-in-law from many years ago," she said. "Making pies is relaxing for me. It's just as easy to make seven as make one. I also make a fresh strawberry pie that is to die for."

Martin has strict rules for pies entered in the auction— while she does allow bakers to use Pillsbury rolled out dough for crusts, few do, and no pies are allowed that come from a box, nor are canned fillings allowed.

"I only recruit people that make pies from scratch," said Martin. "You can have canned pumpkin puree, but you're still adding in other ingredients. There is no canned apple filling, blueberry filling or cherry filling. You can make your own graham cracker crust, no Keebler crust, though."

All pies are anonymous— Martin does not allow anyone to know who bakes what, although some church members recognize certain bakers' styles.

Martin, like Maki, learned to make pies from her mother, making miniature pies alongside her as a little girl. Also like Maki, her favorite pies are fruit pies— particularly blueberry or boysenberry.

"People love pies and it's something a lot of people don't know how to make," said Martin. "It's an art, and unfortunately, it's a dying art. It's a unique cooking form and people love to eat them, but don't know how to make them. If all you're eating is pie out of a bakery or store, you're missing out. There's nothing like homemade pie, you can't beat it.Whipping a pie together is not quick like a cake, it takes time. More people are working nowadays."

The secret to a great pie, she adds, is a tender and flaky crust. While some put eggs in their crust, Martin uses only flour, shortening, salt and water to get it to the right consistency. She notes that the crust is actually better if it is more difficult to roll out. Dough that is really easy to work with is often tougher when baked.

Maki has taught several people how to make pie crust, saying it's important to be able to judge the amount of water needed, and the water should be icy cold.

"You can't have just a couple table-spoons," she said. "You have to know by the way it feels if it's ready to be rolled out... Ice water keeps the shortening from overpowering the flour."

Pie is Maki's favorite dessert, and apple is her favorite pie. She is not particular about the apples she chooses, using whatever apples she has on hand, usually McIntosh, Jonathan, and Gala, but also occasionally Northern Spy. She doesn't use red delicious or golden delicious because they are too sweet, and never granny smith, because they are too expensive.

"I don't get hung up on any of that," Maki said. "I make the poor man's pie, whatever I have on hand."

Maki's pies aren't necessarily for the poor, however. Martin has started a tradition in which anyone who really wants a pie and doesn't want a bidding war can make a $50 bid and automatically get the pie. This happened eight times at last year's auction, including for a couple of Maki's apple pies.

Most families will end up with a pie, Martin said, and some even take a couple home. Every year, there are new flavors added in addition to the traditional favorites, and this year's entries include Million Dollar Pie, which consists of a single pie crust, layer of cream cheese flavored with pineapple juice, layer of bananas and pineapple tidbits, layer of strawberry mixture, topped with whipped topping and toasted coconut.

After church services conclude in the morning on May 4, there will be a chance to see the names of pies on slips of paper only and make a bid on a pie sight unseen. At 6 p.m., the actual pies will be available for viewing and bidding starts in earnest on the 67 different flavors of pie, cheesecake and quiches. At 6:30 p.m., the Psalms and Songs Concert begins in the sanctuary, featuring 12 different musical numbers performed by solo artists, duets, a quartet, the praise band, and chancel choir. The Rinspiration Bell Choir performs a secular piece, "Phantom of the Opera Medley" and the chancel choir's selection is "Moses," which Martin describes as fun and upbeat.

During a 15-minute intermission, attendees get their last chance bids in on pies, and around 7:30 p.m., the concert concludes, followed by the announcement of the bid winners for each pie.

"It's just a fun, spirit-filled evening," said Martin. "You get the fun of all the bidding with the pies, but you hear them doing all these awesome musical numbers. I just love it. We feed your souls with the psalms and tummies with the pies."

For more information, call 810-636-2444 or visit www.goodrichumc.org.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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