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Contest dishes up a sweet slice


Pie competition contestants (from left) Kay Weiderhaft, Jerry Leading and Carissa Freeman stand with the hosts of “Good Day NWA” Jaclyn House and Jason Suel during the taping of the television show at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville.

Just in time for Pi Day on March 14, “Good Day NWA” aired the results of the Walton Arts Center’s “Baked from the Heart” pie contest. The contest was hosted in conjunction with the Tony Award-nominated musical “Waitress,” playing April 9-14 at the WAC as part of its first national tour. Professional and amateur bakers alike submitted original recipes, and finalists Carissa Freeman, Jerry Leading and Kay Weiderhaft presented their pies to a panel of VIP judges to choose the winner during the broadcast. Leading’s “Ozark Mountain Grape Pie” came out on top and won Leading four tickets to the show, as well as his recipe being inserted into Sugar, Butter, Flour: The Waitress Pie Book, sold at the merchandise kiosk during the show.

Here, the champion bakers share their recipes and their sweet stories with NWADG readers.



“Ozark Mountain Grape Pie” was baked by Jerry Leading.

Jerry Leading

Ozark Mountain Grape Pie


254 grams (approximately 2 cups) AP flour

5 grams (approximately 1 teaspoon) salt

141 grams (approximately ¾ cup) shortening

⅓-½ cup very cold water

Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender or fork until coarse (pea size) crumbs develop. Stir in enough water with fork just until dough will form a ball.

Divide ball in half and shape each half into a ¾ inch thick disk. Wrap and chill 20 to 30 minutes.

During this time prepare the filling.


24 ounces seeded Campbell Early grapes (weighed after seeds are taken out)

1⅛ cup sugar

3½ tablespoons Instant Clear Jel

Very slight pinch salt

¼ teaspoon (compacted) orange zest

2 tablespoons melted butter

Whisk three dry ingredients together. Fold dry mix, butter and zest into seeded grapes. Set aside while rolling out the dough.

Roll out one disk slightly larger than pie plate on a lightly floured surface. Place it in the pie plate. Place filling into bottom pie shell pastry.

Roll out second disk for a full cover, lattice, or decoration as desired. Brush edge of bottom pastry with water. Cover with top pastry, slightly press edge of top pastry onto bottom pastry shell to seal the edge. Trim off excess dough. Slit top to allow steam to vent.

Bake at 425 degrees on middle rack for 15 minutes. Lower temp to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned.


The recipe for Jerry Leading’s winning “Ozark Mountain Grape Pie” will be inserted into Sugar, Butter, Flour: The Waitress Pie Book, sold at the merchandise kiosk during the show.

The Ozark Mountain Grape Pie is my absolute favorite, not only because of its spectacular flavor, but also because of my personal connection to the fruit and recipe.

I grew up in Altus, Ark., where this grape variety was developed and patented. Both of my grandfathers were grape growers, producing this variety, as well as others, providing easy access for fresh eating, juice-making and pie-making. Of all the varieties grown, the superior flavor and aroma of the Campbell Early was the only one used for pie-making.

The original pie recipe of my maternal grandmother’s was not written down and was not used for several years after her death. As an adult, I was determined to bring it back and record it. I began by using the quintessential grapes and typical pie filling ingredients, such as sweetener, thickener and butter. After several trials to determine the ideal quantities of these components, I remembered that, as a child, we used to add a bit of orange to our grape juice to “brighten up the flavor.” The addition of the orange zest resulted in the culmination of the recipe that has been used since. Some are reluctant to try it, but those who do become loyal fans.


A serving of “Boppy’s Knee-Slappin’, Mouth Smackin’, Eyes Roll Back in your Head It’s So Good Sour Cream Raisin Pie,” baked by Kay Weiderhaft, is plated.


Kay Weiderhaft

Boppy’s Knee-Slappin’, Mouth Smackin’, Eyes Roll Back in your Head It’s So Good Sour Cream Raisin Pie

CRUST: (this makes 2 crusts … one for now, an extra because you’ll want to make it again VERY soon!)

6 tablespoons and 3 tablespoons unsalted softened butter, divided

1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

3 tablespoons granulated white sugar

1 large egg

1/2 cup AP flour

3/4 cup (plus about 2 tablespoons more) quick cook rolled oats

1/8 teaspoon of baking powder

1/8 teaspoon of baking soda

1/4 heaping teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Cream butter and both sugars with an electric hand mixer in medium sized bowl for about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed until light and fluffy.

Add egg and continue to beat until pale and fluffy.

Add oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and beat until all mixed together, about 1 minute. Turn oat mixture out onto a prepared cookie sheet (which you have either lined with parchment or a non stick silicone mat or sprayed Pam like the devil to cover the sheet) and press out until you have an even layer about 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick.

Bake at 350 until it is just lightly golden on top, about 15 to 18 minutes. Let cool on rack until completely cooled.

Once your “cookie” is completely cool, crumble it up with your hands into a big bowl.

Add the other 3 tablespoons of butter and a tablespoon of light brown sugar and mix it all together until it will stick together to form a crust. (Now’s the time to split the mixture in half. It freezes beautifully!)

Press mixture into a 9 inch pie pan, be it glass, tin, or ceramic. (Tins make the best pies, but I won’t judge.) Work the mixture from the bottom up the sides until you have a full solid covering of crust in the pie pan interior. Just be sure to bring the sides up to the top edge of the pan … you’ll need to have it for the meringue to hang on to later!

The “Boppy’s Knee-Slappin’, Mouth Smackin’, Eyes Roll Back in your Head It’s So Good Sour Cream Raisin Pie” was created by Kay Weiderhaft.


1 cup raisins

1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup whole milk

3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten

In a small saucepan, cover the raisins with just enough water and heat to a boil. Immediately remove from heat and set aside.

In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, salt, cloves and cinnamon.

Stir in sour cream and milk until mixture is nice and smooth. Cook slow over medium heat until just thickened and bubbly.

Reduce heat to low; cook and stir for 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat. Now’s when you get to temper the eggs!

Stir a small amount of your hot filling into egg yolks whisking like crazy to combine them … you don’t want the eggs to scramble! Once your eggs have adjusted to the heat, you can add them to the rest of the cooked mixture in the pan, stirring constantly while doing so.

Remember, you are on low heat … bring it up in temp just a hair until it starts a low, gentle boil. (That stage between a simmer and too many bubbles.) Continue to stir and let that cook for a couple more minutes. Remove from the heat.

Drain raisins, but reserve about 1/2 cup of the water you cooked them in and gently stir that in to your filling mixture. Then add raisins and mix it all together. Pour this filling into your Oat Cookie Crust and get oven back to 350 degrees.


Make sure your mixing bowl and whisk are clean as all get out … just the least little bit of dust or food residue will cause your egg whites not to set up proper.

Put the three egg whites in the bowl that were left over from the filling recipe and add another for good measure … maybe even a fifth if you want mile high pie meringue. It’s up to you, but I vote for no less than four egg whites.

Whisk on high and sprinkle in a little cream of tartar and two or three tablespoons of granulated white sugar, adding gradually, until you reach stiff peak consistency. (Meringue sweetness is definitely a matter of personal opinion and this recipe is already pretty darned sweet. I think five tablespoons are plenty.)

Spread over hot filling, sealing the meringue edges to the crust.

Pop this beauty into your 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes. The meringue should be gloriously golden and browned on the peaks. Let cool for at least 1 hour before serving and refrigerate what little, if any, that is left.


My late mother, Melba (Boppy) Adams missed her calling by not opening a pie shop in Fayetteville, as she was known far and wide in Washington County for baking some of the best pies you’ve ever tasted. Back in the ’70s, she would take her pies to auctions called “pie suppers” that were held in and around Fayetteville in small community buildings or churches to raise money for folks in need. (Generally, a good jam session of bluegrass or western swing music would break out at these events right after all the pies were auctioned, which was a good thing because my father was the best double bass player in Arkansas, hands down.) It was not uncommon for her pies to start a major bidding war among those gathered and sell for as much as $50 or more. This was when gas was 50 cents a gallon.

This is her famous sour cream raisin pie recipe … at least the filling portion. This was the last thing I removed from her home on Eastwood Drive after she died. I have done the unthinkable and not used her famous pie crust recipe … the very one that launched a thousand pies and made many a grown man cry out with ethereal pleasure from the unrivaled flakiness and melt in your mouth texture. Instead, I jumped willy-nilly into the unknown and replaced sheer heaven on a plate with an oat cookie crust. What the heck was I thinking? Honestly, I was just being lazy that day. I happened to have a half portion of this crust in the freezer so, on a whim, I figured, what the heck and gave this combination a shot. I served it at a small family gathering, and that’s where the knee slapping, mouth smacking, eyes rolling back in the head occurred for the first time for a pie of my own! OK, not ALL my own, but one that has her heart and soul and my elbow grease. A good combination, I think. So, I humbly submit this for your consideration, in honor of my mother, knowing somewhere she is scolding me but with a twinkle in her eye.


“Nana Lucyanna’s Coconut Cream Pie” was baked by Carissa Freeman.

Carissa Freeman

Nana Lucyanna’s Coconut Cream Pie


1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup Crisco

Work Crisco in to sifted flour and salt mixture. Your goal is to stir as little as possible. Add drops of ICE WATER (very important). Carefully add the water; too much water makes tough dough that will stick when you roll out. If you do put a little too much, be generous with your use of flour as you roll it out. Mix. Roll out.


3/4 cup sugar

¼ cup flour

¼ cup corn starch

¼ teaspoon salt

2 eggs

14 ounces coconut milk

1½ cup half-and-half

1 cup coconut

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl, add two eggs, beat mixture for 6 to 8 minutes under medium-high speed. Add one 14 oz can of coconut milk and 1 ½ cups half and half. Cook on low to medium heat until boils, stirring continuously. Cook another 4 to 5 minutes to make pudding creamier. Take off burner and put in a teaspoon of vanilla and 1 cup coconut. Put into pre-baked pie crust.

*Cook crust at 360 for 15 minutes before putting in filling.


1½ cups heavy whipping cream

½ cup powdered sugar

teaspoon vanilla

Mix ingredients until thickened and then put it on pie when the pie is COOL. Toast coconut in a pie pan and bake for few minutes until golden brown. Let the toasted coconut cool and then place on top of homemade whipped topping.


A towering slice of “Nana Lucyanna’s Coconut Cream Pie,” baked by Carissa Freeman, is served.

My Nana Lucyanna (or Nana Lucy as we call her) was one of the oldest of 11 children. When her mother became sick, she took on many of the household duties, especially the cooking and baking. When she met my Papa and married at 18 years old, they moved to Missouri with aspirations to become farmers. As their lives and stories unfolded, Nana ended up going to school to become an architect, and Papa was gifted in construction. After many building projects the dynamic duo completed together — one including a beautiful New England-style bed and breakfast located in Branson, Mo., called the Bradford Inn — Nana’s love for baking still gleamed inside.

I am the second oldest of Nana’s 12 grandchildren, and most of my fond memories with her include sitting on the counter, stirring the ingredients to any kind of pie or dessert you could think of (mostly sneaking tastes of the batter) and dancing to ’50s soda pop music around the kitchen. Nana has always had a gift with dreaming up and tweaking recipes to perfection — especially pie. Pie has been a staple for our family for, well, as long as I can remember. Every family event, including my wedding where we cut into a strawberry rhubarb pie, has had some type of decadent pie available, all thanks to Nana. However, as each grandchild has grown and started to begin families of their own, one of the many gifts Nana Lucy has given us is teaching her ways in the kitchen. This was NOT easy at first. I remember sitting in one of my “lessons,” and everything she said was “add a pinch of this” and a “dash of that” with seemingly no real measuring of any kind. Thus, replicating her recipes seemed unattainable. However, pie blood runs deep, y’all. Baking is something I love to do, because it is fun and a creative outlet, and it reminds me of my family, my home and my Nana.

Thankfully, that love for baking persisted inside my Nana, and thankfully Papa loved to give Nana her desires. Nana always dreamed of having a bakery, so Papa made it happen inside the quaint bed and breakfast they built together in Branson, called the Bradford Inn Eatery and Bakeshop. This coconut cream pie is one of her most popular, and my personal favorite, to this day.

My husband and I moved to Northwest Arkansas a few years ago where he is a youth pastor for Fellowship Bible Church, and I am a part-time pediatric nurse at Mercy. We have two young children, and I am blessed to get to spend most of my time at home with them. We decided to bring a little bit of Branson here, and a side baking gig, called Lucyanna’s Homemade Pies, has been a fun addition. I hope you like it!

Categories: Maker Space