I know that winning baking contests is not a huge deal in the large scheme of things, nor something I even want to care about very much for fear I would put too much importance on it, but I have to tell you I was quite excited to find out how I did when we got to the fair on Monday. I showed up bright and early to enter a few special contests that day and as soon as I had my salsa, muffins, and bread checked it, I made a beeline for the displays to see how my entries fared.
I was so pleased to win first for the Butterscotch Swirl Cake because I got the recipe from my foodie mama and she’s won many blues for it over the years. I’m so glad I could do her proud!
This is the second year in a row I won the blue for these Almond Fudge Cookies (also my foodie mama’s recipe) in the gluten-free class. They are one of my favorite cookies, and I love that they’re gluten-free because that class wins more money than the regular chocolate cookies! hehehe
I already have the recipe for this loaded southern apple cake on my blog (and although I really need to update that old post with credit, I’ll give it here that it’s Paula Deen’s recipe), I just baked it a little differently to suit the fair’s rules for cake (must be frosted): 2 9″ pans (a parchment circle in the bottom helps the removal) for 40 minutes, pour the glaze over each pan, then turn out after 15 minutes and put right side up on cooling racks. Cream cheese isn’t allowed in anything at our fair except in special contests that are judged the same day, so I made an imitation cream cheese vanilla bean frosting, but your favorite cream cheese frosting would work well here.
I was thrilled that my red velvet won because it was the class I was most optimistic about. It was the ONLY cake category that my baking nemisis didn’t place in last year (she’s a super baker that wins everything!), so I thought it was my best shot at first this year. Well, she didn’t enter the red velvet class but I still won first! And I DID beat her in the apple cake so that makes me happy. Bwahahahaha! (By the way, this cake not only won the blue ribbon for red velvet, but won 2nd best out of ALL the cakes submitted!!)
Did I get your attention with the giant cookie? :) These have been my favorite cookies since the day I started making them so I don’t know why it took me so long to finally enter them into the fair. Since everyone has their own standards and preferences for the “best” chocolate chip cookie, I was super stoked that the judges agree with me on this one! Thanks, Laura, for the BEST recipe!
Red ribbons (second place):
I decided to use the carrot cake recipe I have on my own blog this year, and got second place! I’m wondering what I’m going to have to do to get first (got third last year). I’m pretty sure a magic wand with a unicorn tail hair in the middle will have to come into play. At least my nemesis isn’t the one who beat me on this one. That makes it easier to take. :)
Oh, do these look familiar? Yup, I dressed up the almond fudge cookies with some cherry almond buttercream filling and entered them into the special chocolate cookies class. So I got two ribbons out of one batch of cookies! Just goes to show that sometimes laziness pays off.
I have a recipe for Mocha Toffee Brownies on my blog that uses a brownie mix, but of course mixes aren’t allowed in baking contests! So I made the brownies from scratch and nixed the mocha flavoring (thus making them Toffee Brownies) and got second place for these puppies. I will have to share the brownie recipe because it’s the best one I’ve found so far (which means it’s the closest to a mix, which is my personal standard for good brownies).
White ribbon (third place):
Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread (based off this recipe). My nemesis, who doesn’t even know I exist, by the way, beat me on this one, and also won BEST quick bread with it, and won BEST IN SHOW with her banana bread two years ago, so I’ve now made it my mission to beat her on banana bread, if it’s the last thing I do! *insane laughter*
My sister, Danielle, shared a recipe for her fresh salsa with me several years ago and I never made it, so I broke it out when I decided to enter the special fresh salsa contest that was going on the day we came to the fair. I’m no good at following recipes, but I didn’t change a whole lot-mostly taking out the jalapeño and putting in a poblano pepper. She uses a little orange juice (along with lime and lemon) in her salsa, which is inspired. Thanks for helping me win another ribbon, Dani!
Caramel Pound Cake (I previously pictured it underneath some ice cream and caramel sauce in this post). Part of the judging is appearance and I’m sure they counted me off for the center being flat on this one. (I thought the taste was really good, though, and verrry buttery-moist.) I think I used too much caramel sauce in the recipe so maybe with some tweaking, it will be fair-worthy next year.
Cranberry Pumpkin Spice Bread (with orange juice and toasted walnuts in the batter). My middle sister was outraged that this didn’t place, just based on its appearance against the winners. She thought it was the best-looking pumpkin bread submitted, and everyone at my husband’s workplace raved about the second loaf I sent to work with him, so at least I’m a winner in their eyes.
I won third for my Dark Chocolate Chunkies a couple years ago, and on the judging papers they said to try adding less milk chocolate and raisins because they were a bit too sweet. Instead, I added more peanuts because adding less mix-ins would make them too un-chunky (totally a word), but I didn’t think they were as good as the original. Apparently the judges didn’t either.
I used the same recipe for this double chocolate banana bread as for the Double Chocolate Banana Muffins, but replaced the agave nectar with honey to enter this into the honey quick breads class. (I also added two eggs, upped the oil to 1/4 cup, and the chocolate chips to 1 cup.) It made a beautiful loaf, but I think it needed more sweetener so I might try that next year.
Honey Banana Peanut Butter Muffins. (I added two eggs to the recipe, which isn’t necessary, but does seem to improve the texture.) I’m embarrassed about this one because I think I know why they didn’t place…I used rancid nuts! I didn’t realize until too late that I was out of the peanut ice cream topping nuts I usually use so I used the only ones I had, which were leftover from Christmas! Aw, man!
Dennis and I agree with the judges: my Smoky, Sweet & Hot salsa is not ribbon worthy. I entered it, thinking that we didn’t like it because of personal preference for a non-sweet flavor in salsa, but apparently we’re not the only ones. Lesson learned: submit stuff you love and don’t hope that others will like it because they have different tastes than you!
The Kansas Soy Commission was sponsoring a “heart healthy yeast bread” contest which, by their terms, meant a soy-filled product. I included both soy milk and soy flour and learned another lesson: read the rules very closely! I was told by a volunteer that the judges loved the bread but had to disqualify it because I put it on a foil-covered board (what they ask for with other breads) instead of the required paper plate. Oops!
They were also sponsoring a “heart healthy fruit muffin” contest and I wonder if my carrot cake protein muffins (I used a whole pound of tofu in these suckers, along with soy flour, soy milk, and soy cream cheese, which is why they are “protein muffins”) were disqualified because, again, I was oblivious and made a veggie muffin instead of fruit (I thought it was just a muffin contest). I won’t know until I go back to pick up my papers when the fair is over, but I was surprised these didn’t place because they were super moist with great flavor & texture, and the Tofutti soy cream cheese filling really kicked them up another notch. I will have to share the recipe for these for the vegans–they are the bomb!
Out of all three years I have been entering the fair, this is the year I feel best about. Although not necessary, it’s nice to be able to have your talent judged “officially” worthy, and I’m excited to enter next year.
Which recipe(s) would you like me to share first??? :)