Greencastle woman bakes tastiest pie

Serena Bingaman will represent Franklin County at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, where she will enter her prize-winning apple pie.

If Serena Bingaman weren't so cautious, she could have entered the Franklin County Fair specialty baking contests years ago, and maybe had the same results earlier. Bingaman, 356 Williamson Ave., took first place in the apple pie baking contest, and fourth in the Hershey's Cocoa Classic.

Hesitant to try a pie, she declared, "This year I got brave and I won."

Her Perfect Apple Pie was one among many in the double-crust category. Bingaman, 33, used the Granny Smith variety for the recipe she called "very easy to make." If state funding toward premiums is approved, she will take home $160 for her efforts. If only partial funding comes through, the young winners in all the categories will be paid first, but at a minimum, Bingaman earned a blue ribbon and a certificate to enter the Pennsylvania Farm Show apple pie contest in January.

That event is popular with the Bingaman family, as is the fair. Though she and her husband Donald III, and children Madyson, 8, Mariah, 7, and Donald IV, 3, typically attend the fair each August, this year they were out of town so she couldn't pick up her prize in person. The youngsters were also involved in one of the multitude of competitions for county residents, and received honorable mentions in the coloring contest.

They attend the Farm Show regularly and take in as much as they can at the agricultural exhibit. Up to 500,000 people visit the Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg annually. "The kids like to see the horses and animals," said Bingaman.

She has already checked out results from past apple pie contests, to get an idea of what those judges tend to favor. Only occasionally has a pure apple pie won the top prize. Usually added ingredients such as nuts or caramel sway the tasters.

Bingaman will bring a freshly-baked pie, serving as the representative for Franklin County. She is anxious to find out what happens to the entries. At the fair, one piece was on display all week, one was cut out for the judges, and the rest sold to the public to benefit the fair, which she appreciated.

The 2010 county fair marked the first time she tried baking, but she has another talent. Drawing from a large garden plot, in 2009 she took second with a Market Basket of five vegetables, and fourth for her zucchini. And three years ago, not yet ready for pie, she entered cookies and bread in Greencastle's Apple Festival. She walked out with firsts for both, as well as overall Grand Prize.

Regarding any future contest  entries, Bingaman said, "It all depends on the judges."