Friday, January 7, 2011

My Pillsbury Bake-Off Losers

I’ve cleared my calendar for March 25-27, 2012. That’s planning ahead, you say. Well, yes, of course it is. If I block out those days now then nothing pesky (like a writing critique group or cleaning my house) will be what keeps me from attending Pillsbury Bake-Off 45.

You can enter this contest too, if you’d like, but with only 100 of us going, your odds are, well—let’s be honest here—not so good. Still, you have until April 18, 2011 to enter your recipes. You can get the details here:

I grew up with the Pillsbury Bake-Off. Having always been an intrepid recipe creator, for years I would tell people, after they complimented some dish or another, “Oh, I’m going to enter the Pillsbury Bake-Off some time.”

Maybe it was one around one of those decade birthdays that cause one to pause and reflect, but I sort of mentally slapped my face when I heard myself make that assertion—again!—and I said to myself, “Put up or shut up.”

Hmm. Once I made the commitment, I figured the whole family had made it with me. They loved (mostly) my creations, so surely they wouldn’t mind eating the same recipe a few times while I perfected perfection.

I’m not a big rule follower. I’d rather make rules then follow them, but, I figured it was their contest, so I checked out what Mr. Pillsbury had decided to require. Good thing I did. Remember when the Pillsbury Bake-Off required flour? Their flour? The times they are a changin’.

You better check out the website now. Who knew back in the day--when the only required ingredient was Pillsbury flour--that in the future the products would include: Smuckers, Fisher nuts, Jif PB, Progresso broths or bread crumbs, Muir Glen tomato product, Crisco oil, Land O Lakes eggs or butter, Hershey chocolate, McCormick extract or spices, or Eagle Brand milk—Oh, and maybe one of at least eleven Pillsbury products?

When I made my run for the million bucks, Pillsbury pie crust and Jolly Green Giant products were among the options. So, I entered four recipes: two sweet ones (that’s always on their list), an appetizer, and an entrée. I guess even then I thought it might be my only entry, so I’d better shoot my wad!

To his credit, DH was very supportive the first nine times I served Green Corn Tamale Crowns. Chicago and Brooklyn, not so much. But they were kids. They’d learn to love this dinner when we ate it off the new matching plates I would buy with my winnings.

I love the green corn tamales at Macayo’s restaurant in Phoenix. They began here in the 1940’s with some family recipes and have since created a small chain that has crossed out state lines (legally). That is the taste I wanted to re-create for my entrée.

And I did it! I loved my Green Corn Tamale Crowns. I baked them in one of those fluted cupcake pans and upended onto the serving plate (thus the crown part of the title). They included creamed corn, Mexicorn, and cornmeal biscuits.

Looking back, I probably missed some clues that I might not sweep the three categories I entered. The neighbors began turning down invitations for drinks and appetizers after the first few times of weekly servings of Green Corn Tamale Bites (a clever twist on my main dish category that was sure to grab the judges’ attention).

And the kids refused dinner when Green Corn Tamale Crowns were on the menu for the night. There was a band practice I didn’t know about or they had to study for a big test the next day. “A test on Saturday?” I remember asking. Tough school!

So, I sent off the four recipes. I remember sitting at my computer everyday for a month, checking my e-mail several times an hour for the announcement I was a finalist. Do you know they don’t even acknowledge the receipt of your entries? I almost sent them off again, certain that cyberspace had eaten them. Imagine my shock when they announced the finalists on their website along with their recipes.

So, I have four Pillsbury Bake-Off losers. Not everyone can make that claim, however. At least I tried. So should you, if it’s on your bucket list.

Everybody loved the two sweets, however, and I still make them. Here’s one:

Apple Pielet Wings

1 box Pillsbury pie crust

1 can apple pie filling

Shaker of mixed cinnamon and sugar

Put parchment paper on your cookie sheet. Preheat oven to 375°. Roll the pie crust out to make it thinner. Cut ~13 circles of dough from each of the two crusts in the box. Then roll out the leftover crust and re-roll to get as many circles as you can from the dough. Sprinkle the inside of each dough circle with cinnamon sugar. Chop up the apple pie filling to make smaller bits. Put a teaspoon of filling in the middle of the circle, fold over, crimp with a Pampered Chef crimper thingy, and sprinkle the crescents—like little pilot’s wings—with cinnamon sugar. Bake until brown. I don’t know—maybe check if golden in about 12 minutes.

Undaunted? What is your Pillsbury Bake-Off entry going to be? Comment below and share the ideas with all. Happy baking (or stewing or frying or . . .).

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