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A pie fit for the state fair

By Staff | Aug 11, 2017

Reagan Black works on rolling out her dough for her lattice cherry pie to be judged at the Iowa State Fair.



FORT DODGE – Reagan Black challenged herself at this year’s Webster County Fair, and her efforts succeeded with her making it all the way to the Iowa State Fair with her food project.

Black, 14, of Fort Dodge, a member of the Douglas Dreamers 4-H club, received a blue and purple ribbon for her cherry lattice pie at the county fair.

Although she has made pies in the past, this year was a little bit tougher for her.

Reagan Black pours the cherry filling into what will be a lattice cherry pie for the Iowa State Fair.

“I have made an apple pie before for the fair, and I wanted to do another pie, but with more of a challenge,” she said. “I wanted to try a lattice pie and also work with a different fruit.”

After some practice, Black said she felt comfortable entering her lattice cherry pie into the food competition at the county fair.

“I practiced a few times, thought it went pretty well,” Black said. “I already knew how to make the dough, but it did take a little bit to figure out how to make the lattice for the top.”

She makes her own cherry filling and, to be more economical, her mother, Jean Black, took her to friend Jan Peterson’s house and they picked their own cherries.

“I learned to pit cherries,” Reagan Black said. “That was a new experience.”

After being critiqued at the county fair, Black said she is taking advice from the judge and, in order to help her filling not be as tart for the Iowa State Fair competition, she added some almond extract.

When it comes to baking pies, Black advises to stay calm.

“Don’t get frustrated,” she said. “Pies don’t always work out and that’s OK. You can improvise.”

Black credits her mom for helping to guide her throughout the pie baking process. She said pies are big thing in her family.

“My mom makes good pies, so I learned all about pies from her.”

Black said she has also taken lessons in the kitchen from her grandmother, Lorraine Black.

“My grandma has also taught me about baking in general,” she said. “We have worked on other baking projects together, making cinnamon bread and cinnamon rolls and she’s also helped me with sewing projects.”

Black said she knew she would be involved in 4-H and with food projects, as it is considered a Black family tradition.

Even before she was old enough to be in 4-H, Black’s grandmother started helping her with baking in the kitchen.

Black said she likes to bake and it is her favorite thing to do in the kitchen versus cooking. She said she has baked for fun, family events and fundraisers for her school and church.

Grandma Helen’s chocolate cake

Black said she made this for her 2016 4-H project and is a recipe from her great-grandmother.

1 cup soft butter

2 cups sugar

2 eggs, beaten well

1 cup milk

1 tablespoon vinegar

2 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup cocoa

1 cup boiling water

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare pans.

Put one tablespoon vinegar in measuring cup. Fill to one cup with milk (I used 1 percent). Stir and let stand.

Beat butter until smooth. Add sugar and mix. Add eggs and mix.

Combine flour, salt, soda and cocoa. Stir and sift together.

Add flour mixture alternately with sour milk.

Carefully add boiling water and vanilla.

Bake 35 to 45 minutes, depending on pan size. Allow cake to sit at room temperature several minutes before removing from pan.

Six-in-one oatmeal cookies

These cookies are from Black’s grandmother, Winnie Schultze.

1 cup shortening

1 cup white sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups oatmeal

1-2 cups chocolate chips, raisins, cranberries, white chocolate, nuts or M&Ms

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together butter, white sugar and brown sugar until smooth.

Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. Sift together flour, salt and soda and add to creamed mixture. Stir in the additions of your choice and drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased pans.

Bake for about 15 minutes in the preheated oven.

Caramel cinnamon rolls

2 cups milk

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1/3 cup cornmeal

2 teaspoons salt

7 to 7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast

2 eggs


2 cups packed brown sugar

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1/2 cup milk

1/2 to 1 cup chopped pecans


1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

In a saucepan, combine the first six ingredients, bring to a boil, stirring frequently.

Set aside to cool to 120-130 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine two cups flour and yeast. Add cooled cornmeal mixture; beat on low until smooth. Add eggs and one cup of the flour; mix for one minute. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, about six to eight minutes.

Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about one hour.

Combine the first three topping ingredients in a saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Pour into two greased 13 by 9 inch baking pans. Sprinkle with pecans and set aside.

Punch dough down, divide in half.

Roll each into a 12 by 15 inch rectangle and spread with butter.

Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over butter. Roll up dough from one long side and pinch seams and turn ends under. Cut each roll into 12 slices. Place 12 slices, cut side down, in each baking pan.

Cover and let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled – about 30 minutes.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Let cool one minute then invert on to a serving platter.

Yields two dozen rolls.

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