The 44th Pillsbury Bake-Off began accepting entries a few months ago, and now the deadline for the famous contest is fast approaching. You only have one week to iron out the kinks in your recipes (or come up with new ones!) because entries close on Monday, April 20th. Don’t stress out if you aren’t sure what recipes you’re going to submit; several of last year’s finalists told me that they submitted their recipes on the last day of the contest.
The final cookoff will be held next spring in Orlando, Florida, and finalists will get a free trip down there (it’s a fun time!) to cook their dishes for a panel of food experts. The grand prize winner takes home 1 million dollars – the largest prize in any cooking/baking contest out there – and it’s worth tinkering with a favorite recipe that doesn’t use some of the eligible products to take a chance at that kind of prize. There are also prizes given out for each category, an award for the most innovative recipe and even two $5,000 prizes for the best recipes using Jif® Peanut Butter and Crisco® Cooking Oil (qualifying ingredients from sponsor companies).Not bad incentives to get in the kitchen and start cooking!
Some tips for coming up with winning recipes are below:
1. Create a contemporary version of a traditional recipe by streamlining preparation techniques or by substituting a convenience ingredient for several ingredients.
2. For inspiration, browse your grocery store aisles or visit a new restaurant and order a dish you’ve never tried.
3. Adapt a recipe for a different serving occasion, such as turning a main dish into an appetizer. Try adding a new flavor twist.
4. Think about a recent vacation and take cues from the new foods and flavors you tried.
5. Challenge yourself to whip up a new dish from foods that are already in your fridge and pantry.
6. Once you have a good idea, ask yourself, “Does it look attractive? Will it appeal to the whole family? Would my friends ask me for this recipe?”
7. As you test your recipe, ask yourself, “Does it taste good? Are the seasonings too spicy, too bland or just right? What can be done to make this taste even better? Does the texture complement the recipe?”
8. Remind yourself what the judges are looking for: taste, appearance, creativity and consumer appeal, and ask, “Will my recipe stand out?”