Home of Economy-Herald pie contestant Brenda Dufault gained baking reputation in church fundraiser

Dufault is sponsored by the Toasted Frog, a restaurant with locations in downtown Grand Forks, Fargo and Bismarck.

07xx22 BrendaDufault2.jpg
Brenda Dufault, of Grand Forks, is among the 16 bakers chosen to compete in the first Home of Economy-Grand Forks Herald Pie Bake-off.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
We are part of The Trust Project.

GRAND FORKS — Brenda Dufault’s expertise in the kitchen was kindled in her childhood home near Adams, N.D.

In recent years, it’s been honed by a desire to help raise money for her local church and an affiliated school.

toasted frog.jpg

“So many people were donating different things. I wanted to be able to donate something, also,” Dufault said of the annual fundraisers at Holy Family Catholic Church in Grand Forks. “My husband does some woodworking and donated a couple of benches, and I saw that one year, someone was donating a cake. I thought, ‘what can I donate?’ ”

And then an idea: Pies. Actually, 12 months of pies to the winning bidder.

“It was pretty popular,” Dufault said. “Eventually, I just went to six months of pies – it got to be a bit much for me.”


But her reputation as a pie-baker was cast – so much that when Home of Economy and the Grand Forks Herald put forth a callout for the community’s best pie-bakers to volunteer for a four-weeks-long tournament this summer, Dufault began feeling some good-natured pressure to throw her apron in the ring.

More on pies
The Herald began advertising the event earlier this week, soliciting entrants. Those who are interested should send an email to or call the Herald office at 701-780-1103.

“My daughters said ‘mom, you have to go in that,’” she said, noting that she also heard from fellow parishioners who know her pie-baking background.

“And I think I make a good coconut cream pie,” she said.

Dufault is among the 16 bakers chosen to compete in the first-ever Home of Economy-Grand Forks Herald Pie Bake-off, a tournament that will highlight some of the top bakers in the community and beyond. The four-week event begins on Monday, Aug. 22.

Dufault is sponsored by the Toasted Frog, a restaurant with locations in downtown Grand Forks, Fargo and Bismarck.

Now, back to that coconut cream pie.

“It’s a recipe from my mother in law. She just kind of threw it together, so it’s notes from her. I don’t know that I have seen a similar recipe anywhere. We had to fight her to write the recipe down, because she was just doing it in her head,” Dufault said. “I probably hadn’t even tasted a coconut cream pie until I had hers. It has always been a hit.”

Dufault, a mother of three grown daughters, said she always has enjoyed cooking, but her enjoyment of it has grown as her family got older.


She grew up on the family farm near Adams and moved to Grand Forks in 1980 to attend UND. She is a former employee at the Grand Forks Herald, where she met her husband, Greg.

Back on the farm, she helped her mother feed the family – including two older brothers.

“We took care of the baking and cooking and bringing food to the guys in the field,” she said. “I don’t really remember making too many pies with my mom – I didn’t really make pies until later on, after I was married.

“I just have always liked desserts and I just gravitated to finding all kinds of desserts to make,” she said. “I would rather eat desserts than a main meal.”

Related Topics: GFH PIES
Korrie Wenzel has been publisher of the Grand Forks Herald and Prairie Business Magazine since 2014.

He is a member of the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp. board of directors and, in the past, has served on boards for Junior Achievement, the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation, United Way, Empire Arts Center, Cornerstones Career Learning Center and Crimestoppers.

As publisher, Wenzel oversees news, advertising and business operations at the Herald, as well as the newspaper's opinion content.

Wenzel can be reached at 701-780-1103, or via Twitter via @korriewenzel.
What to read next
Earl Mallinger has been farming the land up in northern Minnesota his entire life, with thousands of acres and a million farming memories.
Food columnist Sarah Nasello says this recipe for this Savory Tomato Cheddar Galette is her gift to you — layers of pure summer deliciousness (tomatoes, garlic and cheese) encased in a scrumptious, rich and buttery pie crust laced with fresh herbs and flavor.
It's been called one of the "scariest," "most haunted" and "creepiest" houses in the Midwest, but what is it really like inside the Villisca Ax Murder House?
"Minding Our Elders" columnist Carol Bradley Bursack says distance makes keeping track of your parents' health harder, but barring dementia, they get to choose where they live.