Sixty-four years after bakers competed in the first Pillsbury Bake-Off, it's getting another facelift, and everyone in America is invited to take part in determining who will be chosen as the finalists to vie for more than $1 million in cash, trips and prizes in Las Vegas in November.
But that's not all. The entry procedure is also being redesigned to give creative home cooks a better chance of winning. Instead of a sole category, there will be three recipe categories, all with ingredient limits and separate entry periods.
"We know consumers crave recipes that are delicious, yet easy to make, so adding an ingredient limit allows us to provide inspiration for even the busiest families and novice cooks," Jann Atkins, Bake-Off kitchens manager noted in a news release. "And with voters selecting all 100 finalists, we hope to rally excitement and friendly competition across the country as people choose their favorites."
Here are some of the rules to follow if you decide to enter:
• Submissions must have no more than seven ingredients, not including salt, pepper and water.
• Recipes can take no more than 30 minutes to prepare, not including baking or cooling time.
• Recipes must use two or more ingredients from a select list of ingredients which can be found at www.BakeOff.com.
• Entries must be submitted by the deadlines established for each category:
1. Amazing Doable Dinners (such as pizzas, calzones, sandwiches, foldovers, casseroles, chilis and savory pies); enter through Feb. 7.
2. Simple Sweets and Starters (such as cookies, bars, pies, tarts, bite-size appetizers, tartlets, pinwheels, puffs, bruschetta or focaccia); entry period runs from April 4 to May 9.
3. Quick Rise and Shine Breakfasts (such as sweet rolls, pull-aparts, pastries, breakfast breads, egg dishes and breakfast sandwiches); entry period runs from July 4 to Aug. 8.
You still have plenty of time to hone your recipes for the latter two categories, and I'd love to see someone from our area as a finalist. So mark these voting times on your calendar because I'm sure there will be people from Southeast Tennessee and/or North Georgia who enter. We have so many creative cooks.
As for the voting periods, they are:
• Doable Dinners from March 14-March 28.
• Simple Sweets and Starters takes place June 13-June 27.
• Quick Rise-and-Shine Breakfasts between July 4 and Aug. 8.
At the 45th bake-off, held in March 2012 in Orlando, Fla., Christina Verrelli of Devon, Pa., won the $1 million grand prize for her sweet treat, Pumpkin Ravioli with Salted Caramel Whipped Cream recipe. It gives you an idea of what it takes to be a winner. Keep in mind that the ingredient-limit rule was not in place at the time of this entry.
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 packages (3 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/3 cup pecans, finely chopped
2 cans Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creations refrigerated seamless dough sheet
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons caramel syrup
4 tablespoons cinnamon sugar
Heat oven to 375 degree. Brush two large cookie sheets with 2 tablespoons of the melted butter. In large bowl, beat cream cheese and pumpkin with electric mixer on medium speed about 1 minute or until smooth. Add egg yolk, vanilla, sugar, 3 tablespoons of the flour and pumpkin pie spice; beat on low speed until blended. Reserve 4 teaspoons of the pecans; set aside. Stir remaining pecans into pumpkin mixture.
Lightly sprinkle work surface with 1 tablespoon of the flour. Unroll 1 can of dough on floured surface with 1 short side facing you. Press dough into 14-by-12-inch rectangle. With paring knife, lightly score the dough in half horizontally. Lightly score bottom half of dough into 12 squares (3-by-21/4-inch each). Spoon heaping tablespoon of the pumpkin filling onto center of each square. Gently lift and position unscored half of dough over filling. Starting at the top folded edge, press handle of wooden spoon firmly between mounds and along edges of pumpkin filling to seal. Using toothpick, poke small hole in top of each ravioli.
Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut between each ravioli; place 1 inch apart on cookie sheets. Repeat with remaining 1 tablespoon flour, dough sheet and filling. Brush ravioli with remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter. Bake 9 to 14 minutes or until golden brown.
Meanwhile, in medium bowl, beat whipping cream and salt with electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Beat in 2 tablespoons of the caramel syrup until stiff peaks form. Transfer to serving bowl; cover and refrigerate.
Remove ravioli from oven. Sprinkle ravioli with 2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar; turn. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon sugar.
To serve, place 2 ravioli on each of 12 dessert plates. Drizzle each serving with scant teaspoon of the caramel syrup; sprinkle with reserved chopped pecans. With spoon, swirl remaining 1 tablespoon caramel syrup into bowl of whipped cream. Serve warm ravioli with whipped cream.