Twenty-one students in grades 2 to 5 from San Antonito Elementary school entered the State Fair’s Junior Baking Contest; 15 of the kids received first-place ribbons, four of them also earned Best of Show, five students got second-place ribbons and one student got a third-place ribbon.
The contest had several categories including cakes, cookies and bread. Kids baked at various levels, learned how to create, follow and modify a recipe, learned how to use kitchen tools and how to navigate the trial and error methods that baking can sometimes have when one is a beginner.
After they learned how to create a recipe for their chosen baked goods, each kid altered the recipe in various ways. Some bakers reworked flavor profiles, while others played with the chemistry of baking by substituting ingredients, for example, eggs and oil for apple sauce.
“I replaced the raspberry jam [in the recipe] with apricot jam my grandpa makes and added a white chocolate drizzle,” one young baker said.
Some of the entries included gluten-free toffee pecan cookies, peanut butter brownies, pumpkin spice cupcakes with marshmallow filling and cream cheese frosting, raspberry ricotta scones, apricot oatmeal crumble, chocolate chip pistachio banana bread and gingerbread cookies.
“I baked in a camper with no electricity,” the baker of the gluten-free toffee pecan cookies said. “We had light in the oven and that was it!”
“I learned how to use an electric mixer and I learned that using higher speeds makes it fluffier,” another student said.
“I learned some things are easy for some people and for some people it’s hard,” another youngster said.
“I learned it doesn’t matter what it looks like, it’s about taste,” said the baker of gingerbread cookies.
“I learned that you have to be exact with ingredients,” another student said.
“You have to be careful with tools or you will cut off your fingers!” another chimed in.
“It’s harder than it looks. My mom makes it look easy!” said another.
Some of the students were able to practice the recipes several times before submitting their final entry but other students were only able to get one practice run in before submitting.
All of the bakers were required to use King Arthur brand flour. The students submitted their work through a teacher, Theresa Rodriguez, who took the entries to the State Fair to be judged and brought the ribbons to school for them to take home.
“It was hard to wait for the results. We had to wait a day or two!” one student said, adding, “It was exciting!”