The Herald Bulletin

December 12, 2012

Born to bake

Award-winning baker Beverly Givens loves preparing, sharing food

By Margaret Maynard
For The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — Beverly Givens, 75, doesn’t care to talk about her awards for baking even though she has won Grand Champion, Champion and Reserve Champion honors for her pecan coffee cake, peach pie and sugar-free apple pie.

She’d rather talk about how much enjoyment she gets from preparing, baking and sharing her delicacies with others.

“My favorite thing to make is a pie,” said Givens. “I began baking pies about 57 years ago, when I moved to Anderson. I was 17 and determined that I was going to learn to make a pie. I threw away lots of pie dough in the process, but kept trying until I figured it out.”

Givens has been rolling out her pie dough directly on her kitchen countertop, where she and her husband, Gene, a retired tool maker at Delco, have lived for almost 33 years. They celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary on Nov. 23.

“We met on Easter Sunday in 1955 and our first date was going roller skating at the rink in Alexandria and the rest is history,” she said.

Beverly Givens, a member of Jackson Township’s Extension Homemakers off and on for about 35 years, served as president of the Madison County Purdue Extension Homemakers from 1979 until 1981.

“I never had a college education,” said Givens, “but I feel like I have from the many lessons I’ve got from Purdue Extension. Their theme is ‘Life Long Learning’ and they teach homemaking skills, gardening, canning, cooking, baking, child-rearing and so much more.”

Givens taught her three children (two boys and a girl) to cook when they were growing up. “I thought it was important for them to know how to cook, whether for themselves or their own families some day,” said Givens. “Especially with economic times being tough, you can save a lot making your own meals. I can bake a pie for a fraction of the cost of purchasing one at a store or bakery.”

“Baking is an art my mom has perfected,” said Cindy Griffin, the Givens’ daughter. Cindy is married and has three children and four grandchildren.

“My mom taught me how to cook, so I have always cooked for my family, like she did for ours. I still can’t make a pie as good as my mom’s. I think she does it partly by the feel of it. My mom amazes me. We are so lucky to have such wonderful parents and grandparents (Gene and Beverly Givens). They are the best.”

As active members of Ovid Community Church and the Home Builders Sunday School Class, Beverly and Gene Givens have entertained many in their home over the years. “We have an annual fall wiener roast here for our Sunday School Class,” said Gene. “We’ve been having it here for 33 years.  I finally learned to build a fire, he laughed.”

A neighbor and good friend of Beverly Givens, Linda Harless, said, “We first got acquainted as neighbors and then both attended the Ovid Community Church. I’m president of the Mary Martha Circle and we do a lot of bereavement dinners.  Beverly always has made pies for us every time we have asked. She‘s a very nice lady.”

Cheesecake Praline Squares





Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Crust: Combine flour, butter, pecans and confectioners sugar in a bowl; press into an ungreased 13” x 9” x 2” baking dish. Bake for 20-24 minutes until lightly browned; cool in baking dish on wire rack.

Filling: Beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth using hand or stand mixer; add condensed milk, vanilla and lemon peel. Add eggs; beat on low speed until just combined.  Pour over cooled crust; bake for 35-40 minutes until edges are lightly browned; cool in baking dish on wire rack.

Topping: Combine brown sugar and cream in a saucepan; cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in pecans and vanilla; pour over cheesecake.

Refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours; cut into squares. Yields 15 servings.

Pecan Coffee Cake

Mix cake mix, white sugar and canola oil using hand or stand mixer.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each.  Add sour cream; beat slowly; fold in pecans. Mix together cinnamon and brown sugar.  Grease 12 cup bundt pan well with solid shortening; add ½ of batter; sprinkle with ½ of cinnamon/brown sugar mixture; score with knife. Add remaining batter; sprinkle with remaining cinnamon/brown sugar mixture; score with knife. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until cake begins to pull away from sides of pan. Remove from oven; allow to cool for 25 minutes; remove from pan.  Glaze and decorate if desired.

Sugar-Free Apple Pie (9-inch)

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Place apples and apple juice in a saucepan; cook until tender-crisp. Remove apples from juice. Mix cornstarch with water; add to juice, stirring constantly; cook until thickened. Remove from burner; mix in apples, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and sugar substitute or Splenda®.  Pour mixture into pastry-lined ungreased pie pan; dot with margarine; cover with top pastry designed as desired. Flute top and bottom edges together; bake for 45 minutes or until top crust is browned to suit.

Note: If using an aluminum pie pan, place an upside-down cookie sheet on oven rack prior to pre-heating oven, then place pie on it to bake for better results in browning bottom of crust.

Coconut Cream Pie (9-inch)


Meringue Topping:

Pastry shell: Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Line ungreased pie pan with one-half of pie crust pastry recipe; prick bottom and sides all over with a fork. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until browned to suit. Remove from oven; allow to cool.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Filling: Mix flour, sugar and salt in a saucepan; gradually stir in scalded milk. Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Cook for 2 minutes; remove from heat.  Add a small amount of hot mixture to egg yolks, then stir them into remaining hot mixture. Return to heat; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat; stir in butter, vanilla and coconut. Cool mixture slightly; pour into pastry shell; allow to cool to room temperature.

Topping: Beat together egg whites, sugar and vanilla until grains of sugar are completely dissolved. Spread on top of filled pastry shell; sprinkle with coconut.

Brown in oven for 12 to 15 minutes.