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Sewickley library sponsors third Pi Day baking contest

| Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Sewickley Herald
Esabella Brilmyer, 11, squeezes a lemon for her lemon glaze as friend Alexis Petropoulos, 10, watches while tasting yellow cake batter inside Esabella's Moon Township kitchen Friday, March 1, 2013. Esabella, a fifth-grader at Moon Area Middle School who has been baking since she was 3, will be participating in the Sewickley Public Library's Pi Day Pie baking Contest. She took first place in the event three years ago. Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Herald
Esabella Brilmyer, 11, measures milk for a yellow cake recipe at her Moon home Friday, March 1, 2013. Esabella, a fifth-grader at Moon Area Middle School who has been baking since she was 3, will be participating in the Sewickley Public Library's Pi Day Pie baking Contest. She took first place in the event three years ago. Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Herald
Esabella Brilmyer, 11, tastes the lemon glace she made for her yellow cake she was baking as friend Alexis Petropoulos, 10, looks on inside Esabella's Moon Township kitchen Friday, March 1, 2013. Esabella, a fifth-grader at Moon Area Middle School who has been baking since she was 3, will be participating in the Sewickley Public Library's Pi Day Pie baking Contest. She took first place with her French apple pie—her favorite kind of pie—in the event three years ago. Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald

There was a time when Esabella Brilmyer's father, Jeff, was the only one in her family who would eat her cooking, but since then, her baking abilities have won her two awards, and she's hoping for more.

This will be the third year Esabella, 11, a Moon Township fifth-grader, has participated in the Sewickley Public Library's annual Pi Day Pie Baking Contest, which this yearwill be held at 6:30 p.m. March 14 in honor of the ratio pi, which is equal to approximately 3.14.

The first year of the contest, Esabella, who was 9 at the time, won first place for her French apple pie, which she said she chose because it was something her mother made and has been a special part of the family for years.

When she found out she won, she said, “I think I stopped breathing. Time stopped.”

The second year, she won a prize for the most unique pie, which was a chocolate pie featuring chocolate truffles.

She said she isn't sure what kind of pie she will enter this year.

Meghan Snatchko, reference librarian, said usually 10 to 15 pies are entered in the contest each year.

In the past two years, Snatchko said, varieties such as lemon cookie meringue, green chili cheddar quiche and pineapple upside-down pie were the strangest pies entered in the contest.

Ultimate Pastry Shop employees, along with Bobby Cherry, a Sewickley Herald staff writer, and other community members, have judged the pies each year.

Pies must be homemade by the person entering. First- through third-place prizes are given, along with prizes in other categories, such as most unique, best in show and tastiest.

Participants must bring their pies to the library the day of the contest. Pies will be refrigerated, if needed.

After the judges share a piece of each pie, the remaining pie will be sold to bakers and audience members for $2 a slice.

“We are hoping to turn this into a fundraiser for the library,” Snatchko said.

Esabella started baking when she was 3 years old with help from her mother, Terez Madrid.

“I started helping and mixing simple things with my mother's help. Then, gradually, I began to make my own creations. My mother always used to call them concoctions, because I really didn't know what I was doing, so any ordinary day, you'd find cinnamon in a salad I'd made,” Esabella said.

Madrid said she wanted her daughter to start baking and cooking to teach her about science, chemistry and math. She also wanted to keep her “engaged” because she was much younger than her three siblings and didn't have anyone her age in the household to be a playmate.

When Esabella was about 6 years old, her mother bought her first cookbook, “Cooking with Kids,” by Linda Collister.

“I lived by that book. I made almost every recipe in it,” Esabella said.

Madrid said she allowed her daughter to make any kind of “concoction,” she wanted to add to the dinner table.

Although she tried to eat Esabella's cooking at that time, she couldn't.

“But she has gotten better and better.”

Esabella now makes cookies, cakes, cheesecake, pies, her mother's birthday cakes and even marinated salmon.

She recently took a cake-decorating class.

Sometimes, Esabella makes her creations from recipes; other times, she makes them up.

But they always are made from scratch, her mother said. She brings cakes and brownies to school for her friends and gives away treats to relatives and neighbors. In the past, she has baked for Meals on Wheels.

Esabella said she likes to make breakfast for her dad every Saturday.

Usually, she makes omelets, but one day, she surprised him with crepes suzette with blueberry compote.

One morning, her mom woke up to a three-layer coffee cake, which, Esabella said, everyone loved, and she was so proud of herself.

“Since Esabella had already been baking for a long time, I thought the pie contest would be a fun thing for her to do,” Madrid said.

Esabella, who wants to be a celebrity and model and own her own restaurant when she grows up, said she knew she just “had to win,” and that winning was “her destiny.”

A regular visitor to the Sewickley library who also takes classes at Sweetwater Center for the Arts in Sewickley, Esabella received a $25 gift certificate the first year and a $10 gift certificate last year to Ultimate Pastry Shoppe.

To register, call the library reference desk at 412-741-6920, ext. 3, or visit http://tinyurl.com/SPLPiDay3.

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or jbarron@tribweb.com.

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