I’ve had another successful year at the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair–coming home this year with three ribbons–a first, second, and third–one for each entry.
I’ve been entering the Home Arts competition at the Fair for years and since I don’t preserve and hate to sew, baking is my department. Department 42 to be exact–Baked Goods and Candies. Half the challenge is figuring out what and how to enter.
The first year I pored over the list, closely reading the General Rules; “4. No mixes are to be used, EXCEPT in Classes A31, A43, A44.” Not that I’d use a mix anyway, but I didn’t want to get up there and have my cake rejected. A friend who is a fierce baker looked over the list and thought it would be easier to pass a UN resolution.
I persisted and learned to work the list and the judges. I have a few killer recipes that I could always work into the Other category. And over the years I learned that judges like the classics. My buttermilk loaf of bread and Parker House Rolls both took blue ribbons. My Dad loved the peanut brittle studded with candied ginger, but the judges did not. In fact one helpful boy scout told me the judges thought it was “weird.” Back to the penuche drawing board.
This year, the Chocolate Bourbon Cake that had co-workers joking about lost afternoons at their keyboards took third place. The Salted Caramel Layer Cake took second and the Glazed Cake studded with plums took first, despite a tear in the side that all the powdered sugar in the kitchen couldn’t hide. I chalk that up to the ever-forgiving Other category.