Pie Auction 101
The word "auction" conjures up many associations -- art, cars, cows, bachelors, antiques, produce -- but last weekend while in Seattle, I added another commodity to the list: pies.
For some of you folks who come from the country, the pie auction may be old hat, but for this city mouse, it was a culinary first.
I got wind of the crusty hullabaloo from Seattle community gardener Deb Rock, the brains and organizer of Blues for Foodfest, a blues festival with new twist. Rock, who coordinates a "P-Patch" community garden that I profiled in last year's blog space, spearheaded this musical event with the goal of raising money and awareness for the 70-plus Seattle community gardens that donate several tons of produce to area food banks every year.
My friend Leslie and I, pie auction virgins in the flesh, offered to bake a buckle, a fruit dessert closely related to the cobbler (and considered close enough to a pie for these purposes). There was no huckster in a straw hat, egging people on in a sing-songy fashion to bid higher and higher (check out this YouTube link of a teenager wrangling more than 100 bucks for a lemon meringue pie); instead, this auction was silent, featuring a beautifully displayed table, each goodie accompanied by a bidding sheet, with bids starting at $15.
The selection ran the gamut, from a zucchini-goat cheese pie to an apple pie with a black pepper blackberry glaze, totalling 25 some treats that garnered more than $500. The highest bid was just over 40 bucks for a mile-high Gravenstein apple pie made by my friend, Kate, whose middle name really should be changed to "Pie."
It was truly exciting to watch eager eaters bid on pies as I rung my hands in anticipation of how much our buckle would earn (20 bucks. Sigh. There's always next year.). Pie theater is fascinating stuff, a mix of the culinary and the citizenry, where the palate meets the podium. It got me thinking of the potential for $100-dollar bids and several kinds of competitive categories and what a simple lil' auction o' pies could do to make some serious cash.
And then, of course, I thought of you, who hail from all corners and crevices and sidewalk cracks, and probably know a lot more about pie auctions than this first-timer. Got any good pie auction tips or tales to share? Send them over.
By the way, due to popular demand, I tweaked the amounts for the buckle topping to give it a more "crumby" feel and here's how it goes:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cold, cut into dice.
For those of you familiar with the above-linked recipe, the original amounts were melting right into the batter and many found this result to be disappointing. Check above link for complete recipe details, and I'll be sure to update topping amounts in the body of last year's blog post later today.
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