At my county’s annual Farm Bureau meeting, the competition is pretty tough when it comes to the dessert contest.
Entries are tried and true family recipes that have been passed down from one generation to the next, and many of the bakers have signature pies with mile-high, perfectly toasted meringue. The folks who enter the contest usually have an idea what they are going to make well in advance, making sure everything is just right in hopes of winning bragging rights until the next meeting… then there’s me.
I had forgotten about the meeting and contest until the night before. Since I had to work the following day, I figured I had better get something lined out. As I looked in my cabinets, I realized I really needed to go to the store. I had half a bag of sugar, a little flour, a two eggs, some spices and a stick of butter. As I pilfered through my sparse supplies, I saw four little apples on the counter, but what could I do with four little apples?
I remembered an apple cake a friend made a time or two. The recipe called for a little flour, a couple of eggs and other things I had in my cabinet. Not wanting to go empty-handed to the annual meeting, I thought I would give it a shot.
About halfway through the mixing process, I realized I was missing a couple of ingredients. After a quick internet search for substitutions, it was time to pour it into a pan and bake. After I got the cake out of the oven and found some brown sugar and a substitute for cream for the topping, I was done. It didn’t look too bad, but I worried the substitutions would put it at the bottom of the list.
The next evening, I brought in my little apple cake and put it on the table with pies with golden brown crusts, and I admired the cakes with wisps of homemade icing adorning them. My simple cake wasn’t that eye appealing; it was very plain compared to the others.
“Yep,” I thought to myself. “I’m beat again.”
As the dinner went on, those mouth-watering creations quickly disappeared from the dessert table, but my cake remained with only a couple of slices taken. Family members asked what I made and they came back to our table with a slice or two and complimented me on my cake, but I’ll admit it, I was a little deflated knowing I would once again not savor the sweet taste of victory.
As the evening drew to an end, it was time to announce the winners. The first-place announcement was no surprise; my sister-in-law Becky. She’s known for her absolutely amazing pies, a skill she has passed along to her daughters, who had also made pies for the contest. I figured it would be a family sweep. Then came the second-place announcement… my name was called.
YES! I finally broke my losing streak! I felt like I needed to jump up and give an acceptance speech, but I didn’t want to get too carried away, so I just did it in my head.
I can now officially call myself an award-winning baker. Well, at the Farm Bureau annual meeting I can anyway.
As in years past, OFN has compiled recipes from around the Ozarks for our annual Country Christmas Cookbook. We hope you enjoy perusing through the special portion of the paper and find your holiday meal inspiration.
From everyone here at Ozarks Farm & Neighbor, have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Julie Turner-Crawford is a native of Dallas County, Mo., where she grew up on her family’s farm. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Julie, call 1-866-532-1960 or by email at [email protected]