Home of Economy-Grand Forks Herald Pie Bake-off's Peggy Raddatz rekindles relationship with baking
Raddatz is sponsored by Ground Round, a Grand Forks restaurant.
GRAFTON — For a time, Peggy Raddatz attended culinary school at the North Dakota State College of Science. She later worked jobs in the industry, cooking at restaurants, decorating cakes, and developing a catering and coffee shop business.
Eventually, she opted to leave the culinary field and began doing office work, leading to her current position as a payroll clerk at Unity Medical Center in Grafton.
A death in the family convinced her to again seek joy in the kitchen.
“After years of not doing much baking, except for family, in 2019 I decided to start up again after a cousin of mine passed away way too soon. I decided I needed to do something that I loved,” Raddatz said. “She was the one who fueled me to live for today and do what you love. We had talked about opening a cake shop at one point, but it never transpired.”
In the years since then, Raddatz started PJ’s Baking, a small side business that she does in her free time “just to restore a bit of myself, a piece of me that I lost when she passed. I kept going from there.”
Raddatz, of Grafton, is among the 16 bakers chosen to participate in the first-ever Home of Economy-Grand Forks Herald Pie Bake-off, a tournament that seeks to highlight some of the best pie-bakers in the region. Raddatz is sponsored by Ground Round, a Grand Forks restaurant.
“It’s been amazing and fun to rekindle my relationship with baking,” Raddatz, a mother of four, recently told the Herald. “It’s my happy place, my stress reliever.”
Raddatz said her specialty is cheesecake, but she feels comfortable with pies, too. Pumpkin and apple are the pies most people eat, she said, but she likes to make a good pecan pie. Her favorite pie – but one that seems most difficult to make – is French silk, and she’s made all sorts of pies for family and friends, including a variety of cream pies, like coconut and banana.
And she’s particular about crusts: “I don’t like it doughy. I like a nice, flaky, crumbly crust that holds its shape. That’s what I try to attain.”
She gleans cookbooks for recipes, but also has some family favorites, too.
“I enjoy reading cookbooks, which are kind of boring in a way because they’re like ‘a half-cup this and a half cup that,’” she said. “I have had some pretty amazing bakers that I didn’t get to taste, because they’re great-grandmas and things like that. I’ve taken some of those recipes that I have known, that my family has had, and used some of them but adjusted them to have some of my touch.”
All in an effort to stay active – and happy – in a hobby that she enjoys. When she was young, she said she loved cooking and baking. Sometimes, she would pretend to be a famous chef while preparing dishes for her siblings.
“When I was younger, I thought it was more cooking that I wanted to do,” Raddatz said. “But the baking part of it has just been something that, it’s like my happy place. It’s a stress reliever. I don’t draw and I don’t paint. In some ways, this is my artistry.”