As if pie doesn’t dominate enough of my conversations already, this time of year is pie time all the time. Since enjoying some blue-ribbon-winning beginner’s luck and a really fun time at my first pie contest last year, I knew I’d want to participate again. It’s time.

As part of the Maple Leaf Festival lineup, the Carthage Senior Center will host the fourth annual bake sale and pie contest on Oct. 18. I’d like to say I’ve been preparing all year for this, but I fully plan to wing it like I did last year. Beginner’s luck won’t be on my side this time, and that’s OK. Win or lose, the event is a great time. There’s coffee, chatting and, of course, pie: These are the ingredients for a lovely morning.

Last year, the women folk in my family were there to cheer me on, although the promise of a bake sale and lunch didn’t hurt. This year, they’ll participate in the pie contest too. A little healthy competition is good for a family.

I know for certain my mom has been practicing, which should be a good nudge for the rest of us. Last I heard, she was talking about making apple dumplings in a pie pan. As far as I know, the only rule to the pie contest is to make a pie. She’s kind of a rule-breaker, so we’ll see how far she gets.

The pie contest is open to the public, and it’s only $5 to enter. Bring two pies by 9:30 a.m. — one for judging and one for auctioning. It’s a fundraiser, after all. Judging starts shortly after. Whether entering pies, come for the bake sale, pie auction and good times.

I haven’t decided what I’m making yet, but I’m sharing a perfect pie crust recipe and my winning pie from last year, both recipes passed to me from my pastry-chef brother. They’re legit. Take it from me: All you have to do to win is follow a really good recipe.

A little beginner’s luck doesn’t hurt either.

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Ina Garten’s perfect pie crust

Makes two crusts

12 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening

1/2 cup ice water

Cut the butter in 1/2-inch dice and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix.

Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball. Dump out onto a floured board and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough in half. Roll each piece on a well-floured board into a circle at least 1 inch larger than the pie pan, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough so it doesn’t stick to the board. (You should see bits of butter in the dough.) Fold the dough in half, ease it into the pie pan without stretching at all, and unfold to fit the pan.

With a small sharp paring knife, cut the dough 1 inch larger around than the pan. Fold the edge under and crimp the edge with either your fingers or the tines of a fork.

Recipe source: www.foodnetwork.com.

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First-place pecan cheesecake double-decker pie

Single-crust pie pastry

Cream cheese filling:

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/3 cup granulated sugar

Brown sugar filling:

2 large eggs

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup dark or light corn syrup

1 to 2 tablespoons vanilla bourbon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Additional ingredients:

1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1 1/4 cups pecan halves

Prepare the crust: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Unwrap chilled pie dough disk, and place on a lightly floured surface. Let stand at room temperature until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle dough with flour and roll into a 12-inch circle.

Carefully fit dough circle into a 9-inch deep-dish glass pie plate; fold edges under, and crimp. Line pastry with parchment paper, and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake in preheated oven 15 minutes. Transfer pie crust to a wire rack, and remove pie weights and parchment. Let crust cool 30 minutes.

Prepare the cream cheese filling: Beat cream cheese, egg, vanilla extract and salt in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add sugar, and beat until filling is smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Spoon filling into prepared pie crust.

Prepare the brown sugar filling: Whisk eggs until bright yellow and well combined. Add brown sugar, corn syrup, bourbon, and vanilla extract, and whisk together until thickened and smooth.

Sprinkle chopped, toasted pecans over cream cheese filling in pie crust. Gently spoon brown sugar filling over chopped pecans. Arrange pecan halves over filling. Place pie on a baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees, place a sheet of foil over pie, and bake until filling is puffed up and set and crust is golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer pie to a wire rack, and cool completely.

Recipe adapted from www.southernliving.com.

Amanda Stone works in educational services, marketing and special features at the Globe. Contact her at 417-627-7288 or email her at astone@joplinglobe.com.

Amanda Stone is a food and gardening columnist for The Joplin Globe. Email questions to amandastone31@gmail.com or mail her c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.

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