Over the years, pie baking was just one of the things that the Stirling Ave. WMA did for the Mennonite Relief Sale. The preparation and baking for the HUNDREDS of pies was done in one of Bingemans banquet kitchens. Making the pies involved many people from a few congregations.
The donated fruit for the pies came from Vineland and had been prepared by the ladies of a church in that area the previous fall and placed in large food safe white pails and frozen. The pails were brought to Kitchener a few days prior to baking week and placed into a large walk in refrigerator.
On the Wednesday morning before the sale, the ladies of Stirling Ave Mennonite Church WMA would arrive at one of Bingemans banquet kitchens and prepare the fruit filling by measuring the fruit and according to the recipes, measured and added the specified amounts of sugar and flour to the fruit. The prepared pie fillings were then put back into the pails and refrigerated again.
Bingemans Commissary prepared the dough, and on the Thursday morning before the sale, many volunteers arrived at Bingemans with rolling pins in hand to roll out the dough on a long wooden counter into pie crusts. Each pie crust was put into a foil pie pan, with a piece of waxed paper in the bottom prevent the pie pan placed on top from sticking. Short piles of dough filled pie plates were placed on bread racks on loan from Westons Bakery.
The day prior to the sale, Friday, baking day was here! The first volunteers arrived at Bingemans about the time the sun was rising, the ovens were turned on, the prepared fruit pie fillings and pie crusts came out of the refrigerator. The crusts were filled, and topped with either a lattice strips or a full crust, the edges of each pie were crimped by hand and then headed off to one of the many ovens. Baking was now under way! One person would have the very important job of tending the ovens, putting the pies in and then removing them when they finished baking. The baked pies were placed onto rolling racks and moved to the air conditioned Ballroom, for cooling down. A few of the men of Stirling Ave. Mennonite Church were the volunteers to move the pies from the kitchen to the Ballroom. In order for there to be no condensation on the cellophane of the pie box, it was important that the pies be totally cool. Ladies from First Mennonite Church arrived on Friday afternoon and marked the kind of pie on the box prior to slipping the pie into the box.
The smell of the hundreds of pies baking wafted through the building and many staff and visitors to the Bingemans office stopped by to admire the work of the many volunteers. And quite a few pies were also sold to these people!
About 5 pm on Friday, the person taking the pies to New Hamburg in his truck would come by to pick them up. He knew that the pies at Bingemans would be ready and these were the first ones to make the trip to New Hamburg.
I would go to New Hamburg Friday evening to turn over the money collected thru pie sales at Bingemans to the Treasurer of the sale, usually somewhere between $600 and $900. This was money that they wouldn't have otherwise had. Like a few others, I would buy many pies and freeze them, and my family and I enjoyed them all thru the summer!
Pie week at Bingemans continued for many years until the volunteer pool whittled down to just a handful of people doing all of the work. It was then that I decided it was time to call it quits.
Submitted by Esther Gascho