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Bonny Sperlich-Warnke's coconut cream creation took the top prize in the Palace City Prize Pies contest. Sharon Christensen's four-fruit pie earned second place.

Mitchell woman has claim as top pie-maker

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White Lake knows how to serve up dessert. Both of the Palace City Prize Pies finalists who competed Thursday during the final round of judging at The Daily Republic are originally from the White Lake area — something they didn’t initially realize they had in common.

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Bonny Sperlich-Warnke  “My mom asked, ‘Do you know who that is? And I said, ‘no,’ ” said Bonny Sperlich-Warnke, of Mitchell, who was named the winner. “I saw her picture in the paper, but I didn’t realize that’s who that was. I said, ‘Well I’ll be darned.’ ”

“We were a little bit younger then,” she added with a chuckle.

Sharon Christensen, also of Mitchell, said she didn’t realize it at first, either, until family pointed it out. “Our moms must have taught us well,” she said. Sperlich-Warnke’s contest-winning pie was a coconut cream, which she said is a tried-and-true family favorite. She said it was one of her customers at the American Legion in Mitchell, where she is the manager, who submitted her name to The Daily Republic to participate in the contest.

Sharon Christensen  “I guess I did it just because he wanted to put my name in there,” she said. “It was a lot of fun.”

Christensen, who made a four-fruit pie, comprised of apples, blueberries, raspberries and rhubarb — with vanilla ice cream on the side — said her final creation didn’t turn out as well as she hoped it would. “It wasn’t our best,” she said.

As the first-place winner, Sperlich-Warnke will receive $400 cash, a $50 gift card from OverTime Steakhouse, a $50 gift card from Little Red Hen and a six-month subscription to The Daily Republic.

For second place, Christensen will receive $75 cash and a $50 gift card from Bonnie’s DeKor. Third and fourth places each received $50. All contestants received $25 for entering.

Sixteen businesses sponsored the contest. The four major sponsors are Central Electric Cooperative, Tickled Pink, Mitchell Technical Institute and The Daily Republic.

Each contestant was paired with a sponsoring business. Woelfel Jewelry, Sperlich-Warnke’s sponsor, will receive free advertising in The Daily Republic.

Contest rules simply dictated each contestant bake a pie; contestants could not use the same pie twice as they advanced through the first three rounds. They could have used an earlier recipe for the championship round, but neither baker did.

The first week’s pie match-ups were randomly chosen, with winners advancing through a bracketed format.

Judges did not know who baked which pie until after results were announced.

Pies were judged on five categories: appearance, filling/crust, flavor/taste appeal and originality/presentation. Each pie could earn a total of 500 points.

Judges were Sean Moen, food services director for the Mitchell School District and owner of OverTime Steakhouse and Lounge; Laura Senska, an advertising and marketing consultant at The Daily Republic and a culinary school graduate; Seth Tupper, editor of The Daily Republic; Megan Sabers, owner of Tickled Pink; and Korrie Wenzel, publisher of The Daily Republic.

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