MARGATE – Mark Swartz of Longport likes to cook but is not much of a baker except for the occasional cookie, he said. But on a whim, he decided to enter the Margate Community Farmers Market’s fifth annual Peach Pie contest held at Steve & Cookies By The Bay Thursday, July 20.
After intense judging of the 16 entries, he took the blue ribbon for his sweet and salty bourbon peach pie.
“I decided to enter two weeks ago after learning about it at the farmers market. I did some research and put together my ideas to come up with the recipe,” which included adding “a heavy ounce” of bourbon to the peaches, he said.
“I steeped it in Whistle Pig bourbon for about 15 minutes, then, added the dry ingredients. I tossed it around and let it sit for about 30 minutes,” he said.
Swartz added finely crushed saltines as a portion of the flour for the crust and used a mixture of butter and shorting to make it extra flaky, he said.
“I froze the pie crust for a few minutes before adding the peaches, and I left the skin on the peaches for extra texture. I also lowered the heat and cooked it longer,” he said.
He used half white peaches and half yellow peaches purchased at the Margate farmers market and at Gene’s Farm Market and Garden Center in Mays Landing.
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Swartz, a mortgage broker, said the process was a bit tedious, but he was excited with the result. He posted his recipe on his food blog kitchenlifestyle.com.
The youth team of Claire Brooks, 12, and Mary Wagner, 11, both of Margate, and Ali Wawner, 12, of Hawaii came in second place.
“I had the idea to enter last year, but didn’t win,” Claire said. “We did the same recipe this year, and this time it was a winner. We are super excited.”
The third-place winner was Emily Fitzpatrick of Ventnor, who decided to enter at the last minute, she said.
“I bake all the time. I bought the peaches at the Ventnor City Farmers Market last Friday, and at the Atlantic City Market. I had to put them into a paper bag to ripen,” she said.
Fitzpatrick added some raspberries to her pie to “add a little tartness and elevate the pie a little more,” she said.
She impressed the judges — Ben Mazzeo of B.F. Mazzeo produce of Northfield, Karen Sherman of Tomatoes, and Kim Richmond of No. 7311 bake shop in Ventnor.
Richmond, a professional baker, said she is a veteran at judging the peach pie contest and does it every year.
“I love that people come out and want to do this,” she said.
Mazzeo said the pies were “very good" this year. "It will be close,” he said as he tallied one of the ballots.
Amateur bakers were required to use only Jersey Fresh peaches and submit their recipes with their entry.
Winners won ribbons along with $75, $50 and $25 gift certificates to Steve & Cookies, and Swartz will automatically be entered into the New Jersey state competition sponsored by the New Jersey Peach Promotional Council.