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Entries in bakeoff (51)

Wednesday
Nov202013

Sweet Las Vegas: CakeSpy Does the Bake-Off, Volume Two

Remember how last year I went to the Pillsbury Bake-Off and it was basically the best experience of my life? 

Well...in spite of the fact that I hugged the Pillsbury Doughboy with a little too much ferocity and got some funny looks, they invited me back this year. And you can bet your bottom dollar that I hugged that Doughboy again. 

FACT: is a very cool thing and a big honor to be invited as a media guest to the Bake-Off. I am now going to try to give you a behind the scenes look at exactly how cool it was with a day by day review of what went on in Vegas. For more about the recipes of the Bake-Off, visit this post I wrote for Craftsy about the Cakes of the Bake-Off, and check back every five seconds at Serious Eats till they post my "snapshots from the Bake-Off" post. 

Day 1: Saturday 

I departed for Las Vegas from the Albuquerque airport. This is a pretty short flight, about an hour and a half, and I had a chance to catch up on some important world events in a little magazine called In Touch Weekly.

While I was flying, the worker bees were setting up 100 individual cooking stations in the event room, where in a few days 100 bakers would be competing for a million dollar prize.

Setting up bake-off

Upon arriving in Las Vegas, there were people holding "Bake-Off" signs at the airport, which made me feel like a VIP from the get-go. A few of us loaded up into a van, and off we went to the hotel. On the way I met Kelsey from The Naptime Chef who I think is the bee's knees. 

We stayed at a hotel called the Aria Resort. I'll tell the truth: I'm not much of a fancy hotel person. They kind of intimidate me. But when I got to my room and discovered you could operate the curtains with a remote control...well, I will tell you that this kept me amused just about til dinner time. 

Dinner was at the in-hotel restaurant, and it was then that I got to see how many of my friends old and new were at the Bake-Off: Alice of Savory Sweet Life, aforementioned Kelsey of The Naptime Chef, Marla of Family Fresh CookingJeff HouckJenny Flake, Julie of The Little Kitchen, Jennifer Perillo of In Jennie's Kitchen, Nicole of Baking Bites, and...AND! OMG! BAKERELLA! I haven't seen this girl for ages and it was such a pleasant surprise to see her. YES! 

In case you don't remember, me and Bakerella engaged in a war of sweetness a few years back. It included this video she made. Seriously!

Love that lady. 

Day 2: Sunday

Pillsbury does this neat-o thing for the media guests called the Food News Seminar. This is an all-day seminar about the state of the food union, and you have demos and talks from leading food experts. 

Jon ashton

Highlights: an engaging presentation from my new favorite Liverpudlian (sorry John, Paul, George and Ringo), Jon Ashton and a fascinating presentation on supermarket trends from "The Supermarket Guru" Phil Lempert. Seriously, can I tell you how happy I am that this dude exists? I am a big time lover of supermarkets, and can happily wander the aisles for hours considering how many types of off-brand pop tarts there are or why the cream cheese is in the butter aisle in some grocery stores and the cold cuts area in others. I think I've found my soul twin in this regard!

During a break, I got to visit with Bakerella and Tina, the winner of last year's Bake-Off. Aren't you amazed by how attractive we all are?

I also got to ogle some GE appliances that I can't afford during their presentation on their newest lines.

At dinner, I sat between Elise Bauer and Christina Verrelli, the winner of last year's Bake-Off. Talk about inspiring and interesting women. Elise of Simply Recipes is probably my new favorite person. She's interesting, funny, and really curious about and interested in all things food. 

Day 3: Monday. Bake-Off Day. 

It's Go Time. The day started out early--at about 6.30 a.m. I should probably tell you from the get-go that this is what I was wearing.

Photo via Elise of Simply RecipesIt began with a breakfast which was open to contestants and observers, which was interesting. The observers were more psyched, the contestants more nervous. 

The Bake-Off started with a merry band of percussionists playing kitchen utensils.

Bake-off

The entrants / contestants were then led on to a floor with all of the prepared baking stations.Bake-off

They got to work. And after 20 minutes or so of acclimating themselves, we the media guests were allowed to circulate and chat.

Bake-off

I got to see my BFF Brett, who was a third time entrant in the Bake-Off. For those in the know...this was his final chance. It's not a spoiler now: he didn't win a million bucks. But this hazelnut torte he dreamed up is a winner, in my book. So is Brett!

Bake-off

I also got to witness stressful moments like this:

Bake-off

Each person had the chance to bake their recipe a few times, so they could decide which one came out best to deliver to the judges. So you'd walk around and see signs like this:

Bake-off

Waaaaaaaaaaaaah!

Bake-off

But then, as the items were baked and the bakers delivered them to the judges, the left-behind ones were re-labeled...

Bake-off

YES! 

Now, I should mention that as each entrant delivered their recipe to the judges, everyone paused to clap. Isn't that so sweet?

 

Bake-off   

Oh, and Padma Lakshmi was walking the show floor too. No big. 

Padma

After the baking was done, we left the judges (who were sequestered) to it, and we all did our own thing for a few hours.

Bake-off

And then there was the awards ceremony. After much pomp and circumstance the winner was announced...

Bake-off

Glori Spriggs! Her recipe for loaded potato pinwheels was declared the winner. Learn more, and find the winning recipe, here.

Wow, what a trip! It was, once again, basically the best trip ever. I consider myself so incredibly lucky to have been invited again, and to have the chance to report on this wonderful event for youse-all. 

Last year, my meeting the Pillsbury people led to a recipe for Tunnel of Fudge Cake appearing in my second book, The Secret Lives of Baked Goods: Sweet Stories & Recipes for America's Favorite Desserts. Wonder what this year's Bake-Off will lead to...stay tuned!

To see all of the SWEET recipes from the Bake-Off, click here. 

Monday
Nov112013

The Bake-Off is Coming: Cherry Sugar Cookie Macaroons

Cherry sugar cookie macaroons

CakeSpy Note: OMG! The 46th Annual Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming! Since I so deeply loved attending the 45th Bake-Off, I thought I would get you excited early by sharing some of the finalists' recipes. Do I need to tell you that the winner will receive one million dollars? My posting is on hyperdrive since the event is less than a week a day--check back often, because I will be posting recipes like crazy until the big event! 

Of course Sue Odren of Sand Lake, Michigan  is excited about cherries. She's in the land of delicious cherries, Michigan! These sugar cookie macaroons are made wonderful with the addition of tart cherries.

Cherry Sugar Cookie Macaroons

Prep Time: 25 Min Total Time: 1 Hr 40 Min Makes: 36 servings

Ingredients

 

  • 1 roll Pillsbury refrigerated sugar cookie dough
  • 3/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped dried tart cherries
  • 1 bag (7 oz) sweetened flaked coconut (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup Smucker's Michigan Red Tart Cherry Preserves

 

 

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line large cookie sheets with parchment paper. Let cookie dough stand at room temperature for 10 minutes to soften.
  2. In medium bowl, break up cookie dough. Add nuts, cherries, coconut and vanilla. Mix with wooden spoon or knead with hands until well blended. Shape rounded tablespoonfuls of dough into balls. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.
  3. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 3 minutes. With back of teaspoon, make indentation in center of each cookie. Spoon 1 teaspoon preserves in each indentation. Cool completely, about 20 minutes. Store in covered container.

 

Monday
Nov112013

The Bake-Off is Coming: Dark Chocolate Orange Mousse

Dark chocolate orange mousse

CakeSpy Note: OMG! The 46th Annual Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming! Since I so deeply loved attending the 45th Bake-Off, I thought I would get you excited early by sharing some of the finalists' recipes. Do I need to tell you that the winner will receive one million dollars? My posting is on hyperdrive since the event is less than a week a day--check back often, because I will be posting recipes like crazy until the big event! 

Dion Frischer of Ann Arbor, Michigan took inspiration from fancy restaurant desserts to create something that comes together in just 10 minutes. Woot!

Dark Chocolate Orange Mousse

Prep Time: 10 Min Total Time: 10 Min Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup Pillsbury Creamy Supreme Dark Chocolate Flavored Frosting
  • 1/4 cup Smucker's Sweet Orange Marmalade
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel, if desired

Procedure

  1. In large bowl, beat 1 cup of the whipping cream with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Add frosting and marmalade; beat until well blended. Fold in almonds. Spoon mixture into 4 small dessert dishes.
  2. In small bowl, beat remaining 1/2 cup whipping cream and the powdered sugar with electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Spoon over each serving of mousse; sprinkle with orange peel. Store in refrigerator.
Monday
Nov112013

The Bake-Off is Coming: Creamy Peanut Butter Truffles

Peanut butter truffles

CakeSpy Note: OMG! The 46th Annual Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming! Since I so deeply loved attending the 45th Bake-Off, I thought I would get you excited early by sharing some of the finalists' recipes. Do I need to tell you that the winner will receive one million dollars? My posting is on hyperdrive since the event is less than a week a day--check back often, because I will be posting recipes like crazy until the big event! 

Five ingredients! Just 20 minutes! These creamy peanut butter truffles are a winner for sure. Thanks, Denny Gross of Troy, Michigan!

Creamy Peanut Butter Truffles

Prep Time: 20 Min Total Time: 30 Min Makes: 15 servings

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup white vanilla baking chips
  • 1/2 cup Jif Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1/2 cup Pillsbury Whipped Supreme Cream Cheese Flavored Frosting
  • 1 teaspoon whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup chocolate sprinkles

Procedure

  1. Line cookie sheet with sides with waxed paper. In medium microwavable bowl, microwave vanilla baking chips on High 30 to 60 seconds, stirring once, until melted. Stir in peanut butter, frosting and whipping cream until well blended.
  2. Spread sprinkles in small shallow dish. For each truffle, roll 1 rounded tablespoon peanut butter mixture into a ball. Roll in sprinkles to completely cover; place on cookie sheet. 
  3. Refrigerate truffles 10 minutes before serving. Store covered in refrigerator.

 

Monday
Nov112013

The Bake-Off is Coming: Peanut Butter Layer Brownies

Peanut butter layered brownies

CakeSpy Note: OMG! The 46th Annual Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming! Since I so deeply loved attending the 45th Bake-Off, I thought I would get you excited early by sharing some of the finalists' recipes. Do I need to tell you that the winner will receive one million dollars? My posting is on hyperdrive since the event is less than a week a day--check back often, because I will be posting recipes like crazy until the big event! 

Brownies love peanut butter. These ones love it so much that they hug it all around and keep it cradled in the center. This embrace also makes the brownies delicious. Thanks to Heidi Splete of Chevy Chase, Maryland for entering it in the Bake-Off!

Peanut Butter Layer Brownies

Prep Time: 30 Min Total Time: 3 Hr 15 Min Makes: 24 servings

Ingredients

  • 12 tablespoons Crisco Baking Sticks All-Vegetable Shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs  
  • 2 cups Pillsbury BEST All Purpose Unbleached Flour
  • 2 cups instant hot cocoa mix
  • 1 can (14-oz) Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1 cup Jif Extra Crunchy Peanut Butter

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9-inch pan with Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray.
  2. In large bowl, beat shortening and sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until well mixed. Add eggs; beat until smooth. Add flour and cocoa mix. Beat, scraping bowl occasionally, until blended. Spread half of batter in pan.
  3. In large microwavable bowl, mix sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter. Microwave on High 1 minute, stirring once or until softened. Carefully spread peanut butter mixture over brownie layer. Spoon and carefully spread remaining half of brownie batter over peanut butter layer.
  4. Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted 1 inch from edge comes out almost clean. Cool completely, about 2 hours. Store covered.

 

Monday
Nov112013

The Bake-Off is Coming: Peach and Plum Skillet Coffee Cake

Skillet coffee cake

CakeSpy Note: OMG! The 46th Annual Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming! Since I so deeply loved attending the 45th Bake-Off, I thought I would get you excited early by sharing some of the finalists' recipes. Do I need to tell you that the winner will receive one million dollars? My posting is on hyperdrive since the event is less than a week a day--check back often, because I will be posting recipes like crazy until the big event! 

I love it when Bake-Off Finalists are from New Jersey! Donna Pochoday-Stelmach of Morris Township, New Jersey has come up with a wonderful recipe for a morning cake made in a skillet. Yum!

Peach and Plum Skillet Coffee Cake

Prep Time: 25 Min Total Time: 1 Hr 10 Min Makes: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 can Pillsbury® refrigerated orange flavor sweet rolls with icing
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large firm ripe peaches, peeled, sliced 1/4-inch-thick
  • 1 medium firm ripe plum, sliced 1/4-inch-thick
  • 1 cup walnuts, pecans or almonds, chopped
  • 1/2cup Smucker's Orchard's Finest Northwest Triple Berry Preserves

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Place oven rack in lower third of oven. Remove rolls and icing from can; set rolls aside.
  2. In 10-inch cast iron or ovenproof skillet, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and icing. Heat 1 to 2 minutes or until icing is melted; remove from heat. In skillet, arrange peach slices over butter mixture around outer edge, overlapping slightly. Arrange plum slices in center of skillet, overlapping slightly. Top with nuts.
  3. Separate dough into 8 rolls. Using sharp knife, cut each roll horizontally into 2 rounds. Place 12 dough rounds over fruit around outer edge of skillet, edges touching. Place remaining dough rounds in center of skillet. Cut remaining 2 tablespoons butter into small pieces and place on dough.
  4. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cool 5 minutes.
  5. Run knife around edge of skillet to loosen cake. Place heatproof serving plate upside down over skillet; carefully turn plate and skillet over. Remove skillet.
  6. In small microwavable bowl, stir preserves and 1 tablespoon water until blended. Microwave on High 30 to 60 seconds or until mixture boils.
  7. To serve, cut coffee cake into wedges. Drizzle 1 tablespoon preserves mixture over each wedge. Serve warm.

 

Sunday
Nov102013

The Bake-Off is Coming: Orange Cardamom Blueberry Crostada

Blueberry Crostada

CakeSpy Note: OMG! The 46th Annual Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming! Since I so deeply loved attending the 45th Bake-Off, I thought I would get you excited early by sharing some of the finalists' recipes. Do I need to tell you that the winner will receive one million dollars? My posting is on hyperdrive since the event is less than a week a day--check back often, because I will be posting recipes like crazy until the big event! 

How cool is this? A rustic dessert with minimal effort. It was cleverly dreamed up by Cathy Wiechert of Mound, Minnesota.

Orange Cardamom Blueberry Crostada

Prep Time: 10 Min Total Time: 1 Hr 5 Min Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients

 

  • 1 Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust, softened as directed on box
  • 1/2 cup Smucker's Orchard's Finest Pacific Grove Orange Marmalade Medley
  • 2 tablespoons Pillsbury BEST All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1to 2 tablespoons coarse white sparkling sugar

 

 

  1. Heat oven to 425°F. Line 15x10-inch pan with sides with parchment paper.
  2. Unroll pie crust in pan. In medium bowl, mix preserves, flour and cardamom. Carefully fold in blueberries. Spoon mixture over crust to within 2 inches of edge. Fold edge of crust over filling, pleating crust as necessary. In small bowl, beat egg yolk with two teaspoons water. Lightly brush crust edge with egg mixture; sprinkle with sugar.
  3. Bake 17 to 23 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool at least 30 minutes before serving.

 

Sunday
Nov102013

The Bake-Off is Coming: PB+J Mini Walnut Muffins

Mini pb+j muffins

CakeSpy Note: OMG! The 46th Annual Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming! Since I so deeply loved attending the 45th Bake-Off, I thought I would get you excited early by sharing some of the finalists' recipes. Do I need to tell you that the winner will receive one million dollars? My posting is on hyperdrive since the event is less than a week a day--check back often, because I will be posting recipes like crazy until the big event! 

It's like the classic sandwich got a breakfast makeover! This tasty treat comes from Anne Johnson of Vincent, Ohio.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Mini Walnut Muffins

Prep Time: 30 Min Total Time: 1 Hr Makes: 48 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 roll Pillsbury refrigerated peanut butter cookie dough
  • 1/3 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 3 cups finely chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup Smucker’s Seedless Strawberry Jam

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 48 mini muffin cups with Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray. Let cookie dough stand at room temperature 10 minutes to soften.
  2. In small bowl, mix flour, baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon salt; set aside. In large bowl, break up cookie dough. Beat in eggs and buttermilk with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Stir in flour mixture just until moistened. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the walnuts. Spoon about one tablespoon batter into each muffin cup, filling 2/3 full.
  3. Bake 8 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from pans to cooling rack. Cool 5 minutes or until cool enough to handle.
  4. Meanwhile, in small microwavable bowl, microwave jam on High 45 to 60 seconds or until melted. Place remaining 1 1/2 cups walnuts in small bowl.
  5. Dip tops of muffins in jam; roll tops in remaining 1 1/2 cups walnuts. Serve warm or cool.

 

Sunday
Nov102013

The Bake-Off is Coming: Berry Filled Shortbread Brunch Tart

Brunch tart

CakeSpy Note: OMG! The 46th Annual Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming! Since I so deeply loved attending the 45th Bake-Off, I thought I would get you excited early by sharing some of the finalists' recipes. Do I need to tell you that the winner will receive one million dollars? My posting is on hyperdrive since the event is less than a week a day--check back often, because I will be posting recipes like crazy until the big event! 

It's breakfast! With shortbread involved! This nummy recipe comes from Laura Majchrzak of Hunt Valley, Maryland.

Berry Filled Shortbread Brunch Tart

Prep Time: 20 Min Total Time: 1 Hr 40 Min Makes: 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2cups Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut in 1/2-inch cubes (do not use margarine)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup Smucker's Northwest Triple Berry Preserves
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1tablespoon coarse white sparkling sugar

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 375°F. In food processor, place flour, 3/4 cup of the powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover; process until well blended. Add butter and 1 1/2 teaspoons of the vanilla; process with on-and-off pulses until mixture is consistency of fine crumbs.
  2. Press 1 1/2 cups of the mixture evenly in ungreased 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Bake 12 minutes. Remove to cooking rack; cool 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in small bowl, stir preserves to soften; set aside. In another small bowl, mix mascarpone cheese, remaining 1/4 cup powdered sugar and remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla until well blended. Cover; refrigerate.
  4. Spread preserves evenly over cooled crust to within 3/8-inch of edge. Sprinkle remaining crust mixture evenly over top, covering preserves completely. Pat gently; sprinkle with white sparkling sugar.
  5. Bake 18 to 26 minutes longer or until edges are golden brown. Cool 25 minutes on cooling rack; remove side of pan. Using sharp knife, cut into 12 wedges. Serve warm with sweetened mascarpone mixture.

 

Sunday
Nov102013

The Bake-Off is Coming: Coconut Pecan Chocolate Fudge

Coconut pecan fudge

CakeSpy Note: OMG! The 46th Annual Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming! Since I so deeply loved attending the 45th Bake-Off, I thought I would get you excited early by sharing some of the finalists' recipes. Do I need to tell you that the winner will receive one million dollars? My posting is on hyperdrive since the event is less than a week a day--check back often, because I will be posting recipes like crazy until the big event! 

Dudes. Dudettes. This is like German Chocolate Cake in fudge form! Good stuff. It comes from Lesley Pew of Lynn, Massachusetts.

Coconut Pecan Chocolate Fudge

Prep Time: 25 Min Total Time: 1 Hr 55 Min Makes: 64 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips (6 oz)
  • 1 can Pillsbury Creamy Supreme Milk Chocolate Frosting
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups chopped pecans, toasted
  • 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
  • 1 cup white vanilla baking chips (6 oz)
  • 1 can Pillsbury Creamy Supreme Coconut Pecan Frosting

Procedure

  1. Line 9-inch square pan with foil, extending foil over 2 opposite sides of pan. Spray foil with Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray.
  2. In medium microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips on High 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted. Stir in milk chocolate frosting and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the nuts and 2 tablespoons of the coconut. Stir half of the remaining nuts and half of the remaining coconut into the chocolate mixture. Spread in pan.
  3. In medium microwavable bowl, microwave white vanilla chips on High 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted. Stir in coconut pecan frosting and remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in remaining half of the nuts and coconut. Spread over chocolate mixture. Sprinkle reserved nuts and coconut over fudge.
  4. Refrigerate 1 1/2 hours or until firm. Remove foil; cut into 8 rows by 8 rows. Store covered in refrigerator.

 

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