I was excited to learn last November that my recipe was one of eleven chosen as finalists in the "Best of the Midwest" Cook Off sponsored by Midwest Living Magazine. The event was held in Branson Missouri at the Silver Dollar City Theme Park in December---right in the middle of one of the biggest Christmas celebrations in the country....there were over a million lights on display! While I didn't win the 10K grand prize, the experience was amazing. The folks at Midwest Living Magazine and at Silver Dollar City couldn't have been more accommodating and the other finalists were as nice as could be.
The recipe that won me a spot in the competition, Orange-Glazed Sweet Potato Breakfast Braid, was supposed to be a representation of a typical recipe found in Minnesota. While sweet potatoes are thought of more as a Southern ingredient, the idea of a breakfast braid is so very Scandinavian...and the addition of cardamom as one of the spices just clinched the deal.
We prepared our recipes in the commercial sized bakery within Silver Dollar City. Here is Emily Hobbs making her Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake and Diane Sparrow making her Beef Short Ribs With Cranberry Port Gravy. Diane won the People's Choice Award.
We were each given kitchen helpers. They were so nice and so helpful--I learned a few things from them--like how to open the door to the proofer so that my bread could rise.
This was my bread right before my presentation. Unfortunately, I had to cut it into slices in order to present it. The judges didn't see it as a whole loaf.
The staff provided me with everything I needed....
....Including a vintage KitchenAid mixer. It worked great!
Here, a few of us wait to present our creations. Judy Reynolds (first on the left, in green) was the grand prize winner with her Caramel & Chocolate Kettle Corn Krispie Bars with Sea Salt.
After our presentations, we had a little time to explore the park. The Christmas trees were magnificent.
As a special surprise, the emcee for the prize ceremony was Tony Orlando! And, yes, we sang "Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Old Oak Tree"! Later, we saw all of the trees lit up. There were thousands of people watching.
Today I made my Breakfast Braid without the raisins. Braiding the dough took a little practice for me. It's easiest to start in the middle and braid to each end.
Of course it's best if we brush a little butter over the loaves before we bake them.
Of course, these don't last long at my house. And who says you need a knife to slice it?
I hear the next contest will be announced in Midwest Living Magazine's July issue. This should come out in about 2 months. Do you have the next "Best of the Midwest" recipe?