MANVEL, ND — Alexandra Lunseth was “very, very young” when she first became interested in cooking and baking.
“Even though I had dolls and other things to play with, I literally asked my parents to bake when I was little,” Lunseth said.
“When I was about 7 or 8, for my birthday in September, I got an Easy Bake oven,” she said, “and I kinda laughed at my parents and thought , you’re laughing at me, and they go , What? And I said, ‘Well, I need flour, I need sugar, and I need eggs. I don’t have need a bulb oven with a premade mixture.
“So in December they bought me flour, sugar, eggs, milk, everything I needed to be able to cook,” she said. “And one of the first things I created was an apple pie.”
She and her father, Gary McClaflin, had planted apple trees in their garden.
“And I would actually use the crust recipe my grandma had in her Better Homes and Gardens cookbook — which my dad says I can have when he dies,” she laughed. “There’s her handwriting in it, there’s her smudges, her buttery fingerprints, and it’s so special to me. And her pie crust recipe is just the best.
It was Grandma Eleanor McClaflin, from Grand Forks.
“So every year we made apple pies, and I had failures, successes – knowing the water content of your apples is really important if you don’t want a soggy bottom,” she said. declared. “So it was just trial and error for many, many years.”
Lunseth is among 16 bakers selected for the Greater Grand Forks Pie Bake-off Tournament, sponsored by Home of Economy and the Grand Forks Herald. Her corporate sponsor is Northern Roots Boutique, a local clothing store in Grand Forks.
The contest between parentheses, which begins on August 22 and lasts four weeks, aims to highlight the best pastry chefs in the region. The first place winner will win a prize worth at least $1,000.
Lunseth credits his father and his love of cooking for the inspiration.
“We had this little 13-inch tube TV in the kitchen and we watched Julie Child together. It was awesome,” she said. “And we would imitate the way she was talking while we were cooking.”
Her favorite pie is pumpkin, she says, “and pecans – I think a good pecan pie is important in everyone’s life.
“And then, apple – but I’m a bit of a weird duck: I like apple pie with a slice of cheese on top, like a sharp cheddar. This contrast with the sweet and creamy savory, it’s so good.
What she loves most about baking is “it’s so relaxing, it’s methodical – it’s my therapy, to be honest,” she says.
Lunseth, who recently stepped down as Ms. North Dakota America 2021, decided to enter the competition due to her lifelong interest in baking and cooking.
Her husband, Chris and their four children, ages 5 to 13, have been “very constructive with criticism” over the years, she said.
“You must have several taste testers, right?”