NEW HAVEN — Mason County has a new state champion who has nothing to do with high school athletics and everything to do with raising blood sugar.
Jane Bird, of New Haven, recently took home the top prize for her Chocolate Caramel Pecan Moose pie at the West Virginia State Fair in Lewisburg. She won a blue ribbon, a collectible Fiestaware plate from the fair and of course, the bragging rights to having the best pie in the state.
Bird’s face stretches into a smile when she talks about the moment they announced her pie won because she says she didn’t expect to win - it was literally a sweet victory. Last year Bird entered her coconut cream pie but it didn’t place, not to mention there were several others who had entered coconut cream pies, making it hard to stand out from the crowd. This year, she says she realized she’d have to bring out the big guns and show some real originality - her Chocolate Caramel Pecan Moose pie.
The recipe is her own but was inspired by a visit to a Bob Evans restaurant which sold a similar pie but then stopped making it. Bird recreated the pie and then some, conjuring her own recipe with chocolate pudding, pecans, cream cheese, confectioners sugar and chocolate melting wafers. Like a seasoned alchemist, Bird (who has been baking for years) knew how to take these ingredients and turn them into what has become her signature pie.
As for the crust, it’s a family recipe handed down from her grandmother Lucretia Roush who died when Bird was only eight - a testament to keeping the art of baking alive through the generations.
Bird, who worked at City National Bank and then at the Mason County Tax Office where she retired from in early 2012, began selling her pies over the years thanks to word of mouth spreading about her skills. Though she’s retired now she stays busy and those baking skills are in high demand - recently she baked one cake, two pies and 48 cupcakes in one day. When asked if she’s ever thought about going into the pie business full time she shrugs it off, saying “when you have to do something, it’s not fun anymore.”
As for if she has plans on entering the state fair’s pie contest again, she says she has no plans to do that, saying winning it once was enough and is now off her bucket list.
For those pie lovers who simply have to know what the best pie in the state of West Virginia tastes like, they can order one from Bird by calling her at 304-593-6466.