The month of March is moving by fast and it's time for an important reminder from the folks at the Pillsbury Bake-Off.
"I want to introduce myself. My name is Sarah Larson, and I’m your contact for all things surrounding the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest," Sarah Larson alerted me last week, reminding me to get the word out to Times Readers.
"There are only two weeks left for entries in the Simply Sweet Treats and Savory Snacks & Sides categories. Considering you cover food and recipes, I thought this would be a perfect fit. The Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest is constantly churning out delicious, award-winning recipes."
The iconic 47th Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest is redesigned and calling home cooks to compete for the $1 million Grand Prize. This year's contest, which is now open for entries at BakeOff.com, will culminate in the finals Nov. 3, 2014 at the Omni Nashville Hotel in Nashville, Tenn.
As for what's new, for the first time, America's vote will be combined with the judges' decisions to determine the Grand Prize Winner. Also, the contest ingredient list this time has been expanded to include Pillsbury's Gluten Free line of products. Judges will award the Pillsbury Gluten Free Award to the Finalist with the best recipe which uses a Pillsbury Gluten Free product and does not contain wheat or any products that include wheat as an ingredient. This year's Bake-Off Contest also now features four recipe categories with two separate entry periods.
Participants have two chances to enter and vote. The first entry period, which includes the Simply Sweet Treats and Savory Snacks & Sides categories, is open for entries from now until March 27 (11:59 a.m. CDT), 2014. The second contest entry period runs from March 27 (1 p.m. CDT) to May 8 (11:59 a.m. CDT), 2014 and calls for Weekend Breakfast Wows and Amazing Doable Dinners recipes.
Good luck to all Times Readers!
We have a long tradition in our Region for sending our top kitchen wiz experts to compete in the Pillsbury Bake-Off.
Our farmer's wife friend down the road, Joann Scamerhorn loaned me the treasured library of her own Mom's wonderful collection of the tiny annual Pillsbury Bake-Off cookbooks showcasing the award-winning recipes that took honors from around the country. Leafing through these prized recipe resources was a great remedy to get lost in thought for column ideas as a distraction during cold nights when facing winter weather cabin fever (and an excuse to turn off the television).
In the 1955 booklet titled "100 Prize-Winning Grand National Recipes from Pillsbury's 6th Grand National $100,000 Recipe and Baking Contest," which sold for 25 cents, right on page 76 I discovered a winning recipe "from Ellen Sharbak of Hammond, Indiana" for her Strawberry Poinsettia Cookies. The description reads: "A strawberry filling peeks through the petal design that's cut in the tops of these sandwich cookies. They're made with a rich, easily handled refrigerator yeast dough which requires little kneading, no rising."
I've included this local recipe claim-to-fame from the past to help inspire present baking and cooking creativity for this year's contest.
Strawberry Poinsettia Cookies
1/2 package envelop of active dry yeast (1 1/2 teaspoons)
1/4 cup warm water
2 cups sifted Pillsbury's Best Enriched Flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Crisco shortening
1/4 cup butter
1 egg yolk, slightly beaten
1/8 cup evaporated milk
2 teaspoons granulated white sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup drained strawberries, fresh or thawed frozen
1/4 cup strawberry juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter
DIRECTIONS: To make dough, dissolve yeast in water as directed on package. Set side. In a bowl, sift together flour and salt. Cut in shortening and butter into flour. Add the beaten egg yolk to flour mixture, along with the evaporated milk, then adding prepared yeast lastly. Mix well. On a well-floured board or surface, knead dough until smooth and easy to handle, about 1 minute. Place in a greased bowl and cover and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight. To prepare filling, in a bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch and nutmeg and mix to blend. Gradually add the strawberries and then the juice, along with butter and lemon juice and place in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Cool. To roll out cookie dough, working with it 1/2 at a time on floured surface to a 1/8 thickness. Cut the chilled dough into rounds about 2 1/2-inches with cutter. Place half of the rounds on an ungreased cookie sheet and top with 1/2 teaspoon of filling. Cut slits to make a petal opening design for remaining dough rounds and cover filling cookie halves. Seal edges with a fork. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool and sprinkle tops with confectioners' sugar. Makes 2 dozen cookies.