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'Best of the Bake-Off' updates recipes

| Sunday, July 4, 2004

One hundred stoves, myriad microphones and pallets of paper towels are long gone from the Grand Ballroom of the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel, Calif., where the 41st Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest was held Monday.

The winner of the $1 million grand prize was Suzanne Conrad of Findlay, Ohio, for her Oats 'n Honey Granola Pie. The Bake-Off returns in 2006.

Meantime, cooking contest enthusiasts can pore over past winners and dream of future winnings with "Pillsbury Best of the Bake-Off Cookbook: Recipes from America's Favorite Cooking Contest," which has just been published. Its appeal isn't limited to competitive types; any home cook would appreciate this as a keepsake gift, and you might as well buy one for yourself at the same time so you don't miss out on all the fun.

Featuring luscious photographs and mini stories from the finalists over the 55 years of the contest's existence, the book offers a comprehensive collection of recipes and includes a new chapter reflecting the popularity in recent showdowns of categories highlighting easy weeknight dinners.

Many recipes have been updated to conform to currently available products or to eliminate food safety concerns that the original recipes might have raised.

The closing chapter is devoted to the 100 finalists in the 40th contest, held in Orlando, Fla., in 2002. It includes a photograph of Baja Chicken Salad with Taco Vinaigrette by Pat Harmon of Economy, who was a finalist for the third time. In all, 15 recipes from Pennsylvania cooks are spotlighted, including this area's only grand prize winner, the late Rose DeDominicis of Verona.

Here is DeDominicis' recipe, which topped them all in 1972.

Streusel Spice Cake

For the cake:

1 (2-layer size) package yellow cake mix with pudding

{3/4} cup milk

{ 1/2} cup (1 stick) margarine or butter, softened

5 large eggs

{ 1/4} cup coconut

{ 1/4} cup chopped nuts

1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, melted

For the filling:

{ 1/2} cup coconut

{ 1/2} cup chopped nuts

{ 1/2} cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

For the glaze:

1 cup confectioners' sugar

1 tablespoon margarine or butter, softened

2 to 3 tablespoons milk

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube or 12-cup Bundt pan.

In a large bowl, combine the dry cake mix, 3/4 cup milk, 1 stick margarine and the eggs at low speed until moistened. Beat for 2 minutes at high speed. Stir in 1/4 cup coconut and 1/4 cup nuts.

Using a spoon, marble the melted chocolate through the batter. Pour half of the batter -- about 2 cups -- into the prepared pan.

In a small bowl, combine all the filling ingredients. Reserve 1/2 cup of the mixture. Sprinkle the remaining filling over the batter in the pan. Cover with the remaining batter and sprinkle with the reserved filling.

Bake for 55 to 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool upright in the pan for 30 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool completely.

In a small bowl, blend all of the glaze ingredients until smooth, adding enough milk for desired drizzling consistency. Drizzle over the cake.

Makes 16 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 350 calories, 17 grams fat, 5 grams protein, 45 grams carbohydrates, 330 milligrams sodium.

Classics in the making

The introduction to "Pillsbury Best of the Bake-Off Cookbook: Recipes from America's Favorite Cooking Contest" lists the Bake-Off Contest Hall of Fame recipes, which should ring a bell with most home cooks. They are considered, according to the text, "the most popular and time-tested dishes and desserts from the first 50 years of the contest, chosen by both Pillsbury's home economists and consumers."

  • French Silk Chocolate Pie, 1951

  • Peanut Blossoms, 1957

  • Dilly Casserole Bread, 1960

  • Tunnel of Fudge Cake, 1966

  • Poppin' Fresh Barbecups, 1968

  • Magic Marshmallow Crescent Puffs, 1969

  • Ham and Cheese Crescent Snacks, 1975

  • Crescent Caramel Swirl, 1976

  • Zesty Italian Crescent Casserole, 1978

  • Salted Peanut Chews, 1980

  • Italian Zucchini Crescent Pie, 1980

  • Chocolate Praline Layer Cake, 1988

  • Broccoli Cauliflower Tetrazzini, 1988

  • Black & White Brownies, 1992

    Additional Information:

    'Pillsbury Best of the Bake-Off Cookbook'

    Author: The Pillsbury Editors

    Publisher: Clarkson Potter/Publishers

    Price: $27.50, $29.50 large print edition

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