LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A blue ribbon is at stake as Kentucky State Fair officials investigate whether a store-bought crust was used to create this year's prize-winning buttermilk pie.
Linda Horton, a 67-year-old retired factory worker who sweetly shared her recipe with Courier-Journal readers this week, did not return phone calls immediately Friday morning seeking comment.
Her winning entry, described as tasting like a chess pie that got crossed with a cheesecake, took top prize in the category for the second consecutive time at this year's fair.
On Monday, she told the newspaper, "This year, I used a Pillsbury pie crust," adding her experience with prior homemade pie crusts was that they "didn't crumble a whole lot."
Horton said she uses Pillsbury brand rolled pastry crust to hold the mixture of butter, flour, buttermilk, sugar, eggs and vanilla.
A Pillsbury-brand pie crust "is so buttery," she said.
Other contestants and fair attendees complained, and now the pie police are on the case.
"If we award her a first place ribbon for a pie crust that Pillsbury made, we would have to give the ribbon to Pillsbury," said Steve Lee, superintendent of the state fair's culinary department.
He said Horton will be questioned by state fair officials. "State Fair culinary competition management takes matters such as this very seriously."
The rules are easy as pie. The Kentucky State Fair Premium List and General Rules Book clearly states on page 203 for Division 3304 Pies that "no commercial pie crusts may be used."
Horton's buttermilk pie recipe submitted to state fair officials does not spell out ingredients for the pie's shell. Instead, it instructs cooks to simply "line two 8-inch pie pans with pastry crust."
If Horton is determined to have a pastry problem, Lee said her blue ribbon status "will be voided."
But Lee said he is giving Horton the benefit of the doubt.
"I am assuming, and I have told those who have contacted me, that I was sure Ms. Horton made her own from scratch pie crust for the state fair entry and that the employ of store-bought pastry as used in your article and recipe was to show people how simple a good pie could be to make quickly at home," Lee said.