XENIA – The heat was on in the Greene County Fairground Assembly Hall Monday, as eight participants competed against each other to make the tastiest baked goods.
Each respective age group had its own recipe to assemble – beginners were to bake banana bars; intermediate participants made whole-wheat biscuits; advanced competitors baked pinwheels and the best of bakers, who were only given a list of ingredients and supplies before showing up to compete, made iced sugar cookies. In order to participate in the best of bakers category, they must first have taken the golden title in all previous categories in the past.
Competitors had three minutes to prep their stations, and 30 minutes to assemble the recipe not including baking times. Participants were then interviewed by the judge as they cleaned up their area. They were judged based on criteria such as food safety skills, preparation work, baking techniques and the taste of the final product.
“I’m looking at the basic skills, especially for beginners, such as measuring; food safety, such as washing their hands and checking the area beforehand,” Baking Contest Judge Amy Habig said. “At the end, I’ll taste the product to see if it was baked long enough and has a good taste. Sometimes when you’re here you may get nervous and use a half cup of sugar instead of a fourth of a cup – checking the flavor of the end product.”
Catherine Davis of 4H buds participated for the first time this year, and took home the gold in the beginners category. She said she felt comfortable under pressure, and generally enjoys baking, especially cupcakes, in her free time.
Karleigh Godfrey of Husky Hustlers took the prize in the intermediate category, and recommends hand washing and checking food often in situations such as these. She competed against Sam Lewis of Clover Patch, who took third place, and Stacie Baxley of 4H Buds, who took second place. Her sister, Alexis Adams, competed in the best of bakers category and took second place. Adams has been involved in the 4H organization for the past five years, while her little sister has been involved for four.
“They’re learning to cook,” Adams’s and Baxley’s Mother Debbie Baxley said. “A lot of kids these days just don’t know how to do the basics – if it doesn’t come out of a can or box, they don’t have a clue. This teaches them.”
Emma Mihbachler of Clover Patch took first place in the advanced category, while Amanda Perkins rang in at second place.
Sixteen-year-old Julie Arnold competed and won first place in the best of bakers category, and has been involved in 4H since she was in Kindergarten.
“It’s pretty fun,” Arnold said. “We spent a lot of time at home trying to guess what [the recipe] is based on the equipment and ingredients. I’ve grown up cooking with my mom and grandma. My mom was in 4H.”
Habig previously participated in the baking contest herself, and now works as a dietitian. She feels that participating in such a competition helped her in her career, and allows participants to think on their feet.
“For me, it was helpful to get on my career path, and I know others [who did the same],” Habig said. “It gives more practice and ways to try new recipies. They also get practice being in front of people, and interview practice. They have to think through the whole process.”
Whitney Vickers can be reached by calling her directly at 937-502-4532.