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Heaven's pie 'the most perfect I have seen', judge says

11:50am Wednesday August 2, 2006

Slightly hung over Napier baker Jason Heaven is not a great fan of pears, despite the fruit featuring in the pie that last night won him the top award at the national competition.

The pie of caramelised baby pears resting in vanilla pastry cream beat 3363 pies from 295 bakeries to win the supreme award.

The fruit pie was, said chief judge Peter Grant, "the most perfect pie I have seen."

"We opened the box and it just blew us away, the appearance of it was just incredible," Mr Grant told National Radio.

"We looked at it and thought: what is that going to taste like? It was just superb."

Mr Heaven from Heaven's Bakery in Napier, said his phone had been ringing off the hook today.

Last night as he savoured the win in Auckland, his production manager returned to the factory in Napier for an after hours shift to bake more of the award-winning pies.

Mr Heaven said the recipe came from a brain-storming session at his Taradale bakery in Napier.

"Everybody was just chucking around ideas and this just came out. That is how good things come about, I think."

Mr Heaven said he was "stoked" at the comments by Mr Grant but was not the best person to ask about the taste of the award-winning pie.

"I am not a pear fan but it's the good combination. The three ingredients worked well together."

Warmed with a dose of vanilla ice cream, they were beautiful, he said.

He said friendly rivalry among Hawke's Bay bakeries meant when one baker won an award, the other bakers wanted to go one better.

The 13 dozen extra caramel pear pies made last night sold out by 9am. Mr Heaven expected interest in the bakery's products to last a long time.

Entries in the competition were a record and were up 50 per cent on last year.

Organisers said Hawke's Bay bakeries dominated this year's contest as they had for the last decade, taking 16 of the 41 awards, followed by Bay of Plenty with 11 awards.

The New Zealand pie market was worth more than $120 million, say the organisers, meaning with an average pie costing $2.00, New Zealanders eat 60 million pies a year.