Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Top bakers win at fair

by on September 15, 2013 2:00 AM

Top baking contest winners at the Indiana County Fair get a sweet deal: not only do they have bragging rights to the best brownies, pies and cakes in the county, they also have an opportunity to compete alongside winners from across the state at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, held each January in Harrisburg.

Christina S. Bell, 55, of Blairsville, took top prize in the fair’s Blue Ribbon Apple Pie Contest with her Harvest Time Apple Pie.

The pie featured three components — a cranberry compote, a caramel apple filing and a pretzel crumb topping.

“You sort of figure out what you have to do in order to win,” she said. “If you find something that wins, stick with that basic formula.”

And she would know. Several years ago, her angel food cake placed fourth in Harrisburg.

Two of her entries in the Derry Township Agricultural Fair also took first place this summer.

It won’t be the first trip to the Pennsylvania Farm Show for Kelly McCoy, 27, of Clymer, who used to show livestock at the state fair.

This year, she’ll be going with her Chocolate Raspberry Almond Torte, which took the top spot at the county fair’s Pennsylvania Preferred Chocolate Baking Contest.

In recent years, she’s paid close attention to Pennsylvania Farm Show entries.

“We’ve just been watching,” she said. “It seems like the fruit cakes have been winning down there. We just decided on trying raspberries.”

It proved to be a prize-winning decision, to McCoy’s surprise.

“Everyone told me it was good, don’t change anything,” she said. “But you don’t know until it’s over.”

For Katrina Smith, of White Township, her Chai Angel Cake came about by experimenting with ingredients and letting her kids, who like chai tea, weigh in on the results.

“If the kids like it, I figured most anybody will,” she said.

The judges agreed, honoring the iced cake with top prize in the county fair’s Incredible Angel Food Cake Contest.

Smith has high praise for the fair and those who make it happen.

She also hopes more people participate in the future.

“It’s fun and exciting to see how things turned out,” she said.

Eden McCracken, 12, of Homer City, won in the youth division of the Pennsylvania Preferred Chocolate Baking Contest.

The daughter of Keith and Melissa McCracken, Eden entered her Hershey’s Chocolate Crunch Brownies. The treats featured a brownie bottom, a marshmallow cream filling and a chocolate Rice Crispy top.

“I was pretty excited,” she said of winning. “I think it just turned out well. I like the crunch factor of it, and the sweetness.”

The fair received 14 apple pie entries, 10 chocolate cake entries and a dozen entries in the youth competition, according to Kathleen Stutzman, the Indiana County Fair’s superintendent of baked goods.

From the sound of it, she’s pleased with the results.

“I really feel that the contest was good this year,” she said. “The judges all did well.”



Recipes for the winning baked goods at the Indiana County Fair ...

Chocolate Raspberry Almond Torte

By Kelly McCoy, of Clymer

Makes 8 to 10 Servings

2 cups sugar

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup Hershey’s Cocoa (PA Preferred)

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs (PA Preferred, Sunny Farms)

1 cup milk (PA Preferred, Turner’s)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon raspberry extract

1 cup boiling water

1 bag of red raspberry filling

1/4 cup of sliced almonds

9 fresh raspberries

Heat oven to 350 F. Grease, flour and line with wax paper circle into two 9-inches round baking pans.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large mixer bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and raspberry extract; beat on medium speed of electric mixer 2 minutes. Stir in water. (Batter will be thin.) Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Even both cakes, and then cut one cake in half. Spread raspberry filling about ᄑ cup, between layers of cake. Put a bead of frosting around the rim of each layer to keep the filling in.

Frost the cakes with the Chocolate Raspberry Frosting (below).

Garnish with fresh red raspberries cut in half. Make almond flowers around the sides and on the top of the cake with a raspberry in the center of the almond flower.


Chocolate Raspberry Frosting

Makes about 2 cups frosting

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter (PA Preferred, Beaver Meadow)

2/3 cup Hershey’s Cocoa (PA Preferred)

3 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup milk (PA Preferred, Turner’s)

1 teaspoon raspberry extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spread consistency.

Add small amount of additional milk, if needed. Stir in raspberry flavoring.


Chai Angel Cake

By Katrina Smith, of Indiana

1 cup flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon Chai blend

1-1/2 cups egg whites

1-1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup sugar

Chai Blend

2-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1-1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

1-1/4 teaspoons cardamom

1-1/4 teaspoons ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

Combine all thoroughly and set aside.

Sift flour with 3/4 cups sugar and Chai Blend and set aside. Beat egg whites, cream of tartar, salt and vanilla until soft peaks form. Add remaining sugar 2 tablespoons at a time beating until stiff peaks form. Sift 1/4 of flour mixture over whites and fold in. Repeat until all flour mixture is incorporated. Bake in ungreased tube pan at 375 F for 35 to 40 minutes or until done. Remove from oven and turn upside down to cool completely. Cut from pan.

Slice vertically and fill and ice with Chai Meringue Buttercream.

Chai Meringue Buttercream

1-1/2 cups sugar

6 large egg whites

pinch of salt

3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 pound butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon Chai blend

Beat egg whites, salt, cream of tartar and vanilla to soft peaks. Beat in sugar slowly until stiff glossy peaks form. Slowly, beat in softened butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, until all is incorporated. Beat in Chai Blend. Icing will set firmly when chilled.


Hershey’s Chocolate Crunch Brownies

By Eden McCracken, 12, of Homer City

1 cup butter or margarine, softened

2 cups sugar

4 PA Preferred eggs

1 cup all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons Hershey’s PA Preferred baking cocoa

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow cr│me

2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet Hershey’s PA Preferred chocolate chips

1 cup creamy peanut butter

3 cups crisp rice cereal

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar; add eggs. Stir in flour, cocoa, vanilla and salt. Spread into a greased 13- by 9-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Spread the marshmallow creme over cooled brownies. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate chips and peanut butter, stirring constantly. When melted together, remove from heat and stir in the cereal. Spread mixture over the marshmallow layer. Chill 1 hour before cutting. Enjoy!

Harvest Time Apple Pie

By Christine Bell, of Blairsville

Cranberry compote

6 ounces cranberries (fresh or frozen)

2 tablespoons tapioca

1/4 cup dried cranberries

20 fresh sweet cherries pitted. (Use a heavy straw to push on the stem area and the pit will come out)

or 1 cup frozen unsweetened pitted dark sweet cherries thawed

1 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup orange juice

2 teaspoons finely shredded orange peel from a fresh orange


Caramel apple filling

10 Granny Smith apples

lemon juice

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel

2 tablespoons tapioca

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

2-3 pieces of ginger


Pretzel crumb topping

1/4 cup whole pecans for decoration (optional)

1/4 cup caramel topping by Hershey’s on top of pie

2/3 cup salty pretzels ground up. Leave some pretzels at broken state

2/3 cup pecans

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (if pretzels are not salty)

1 stick room-softened butter



2 cups flour

2/3 cups plus 2 tablespoons of butter-flavored Crisco

4 to 5 tablespoons ice water (put ice cubes in the water so it is chilled)


Light ginger cookies

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup butter, softened

1 tablespoon vinegar

2-1/4 cups flour

1-1/2 teaspoon organic ginger, ground

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt


Glazed pecans

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons maple-flavored or real syrup

2 cups pecan halves

CRANBERRY COMPOTE: Heat berries (fresh or frozen and dried) until the cranberries have burst a little and mixture thickens. Stir once in a while. Add the compote, which consisted of the combination of 1 cup sugar, pinch of salt, orange juice and orange peel. Stir in cherries carefully. Remove from heat and cool. Add tapioca.

This can be made a day in advance and refrigerated.

CARAMEL APPLE FILLING: Cut, peel, core and slice apples and toss with lemon juice and peel in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, mix brown sugar, tapioca, cinnamon and salt. Toss apples in and mix gently along with crushed ginger.

PRETZEL CRUMB TOPPING: Combine all ingredients and cut in the butter. Squeeze and crumble the mixture until it forms large clumps. Refrigerate until ready to use.

CRUST: Cut Crisco into the flour. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you can squeeze the ball together. Roll out crust.

LIGHT GINGER COOKIES: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix sugar, butter and vinegar. Stir in remaining ingredients. If dough is too dry, add milk, 1 teaspoon at a time. Roll between two lightly floured sheets of wax paper to 1/8th-inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters. Can add sprinkles if you like. White crystal sprinkle sugar works well. Bake 6 to 8 minutes. Cool slightly, remove from cookie sheet and place on cooling rack until cool. Can make 4 dozen.

GLAZED PECANS: Heat oven to 350. Line cookie sheet with parchment. Melt butter over medium heat. Add sugar and syrup. Cook until bubbly, stirring constantly. Add pecans. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until coated. Spread mixture onto cookie sheet and bake 6 to 8 minutes until golden brown. Cool 30 minutes. Store tightly in air-tight container for 2 weeks or freeze for 3 months.

PIE: Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place prepared crust into a pie pan. Paint bottom with an egg white. Fill with sliced apples in a circle followed by cranberry, cherry compote. Continue to layer until pie pan is filled, ending with apples. Dot with a tablespoon of butter.

Cover exposed apples with a sheet of aluminum foil. Remove after 30 minutes and fill with pretzel crumb topping.

Place pretzel crumb topping on top after pie has baked for 30 minutes. Let the crust tan during the last 5 to 10 minutes only. Bake on second rack from the bottom of oven. Let cool and swirl caramel topping in a zig-zag fashion.

Add more pecans and light ginger cookies for decoration.

Julie E. Martin is a staff writer for the Indiana Gazette. Among her assignments are coverage of the Apollo-Ridge School and Penns Manor Area school districts and also White Township.
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