When I heard that Montclair Bread Company was going to hold a Retro Bake Off, my mind got right to work on what family recipes I could make. The wonderful Montclair bakery, owned by the equally wonderful Rachel Crampsey, is a favorite of ours so this was basically a no-brainer. That all proceeds would go to Toni’s Kitchen, a non-profit that feeds the needy, just added to the allure of the event. I happily sent in my entry fee for the 1st Annual Montclair Bread Company Retro Bake-Off.
After careful deliberation I had decided on entering my great-grandma’s recipe that our family calls Granny’s Haystacks. They’re different because there’s not much in them that is a traditional dessert. No, chocolate, no cake, no baking at all! There are only four ingredients so they’re also very easy to make. Just chow mein noodles, melted butterscotch chips, chunky peanut butter and mini marshmallows. Combine the four ingredients, drop onto waxed paper and chill them until ready to serve. Easy and delicious! Melting butterscotch chips to get them started brought me right back to Granny’s house in Towson, MD. She made these every time we visited so her house always smelled like butterscotch. Many of the people I talked to at the Bake Off said they had similar feelings when they were making their family recipes. We were all transported to our childhoods. What a great side effect of the Retro Bake Off!
When we arrived, contestants were streaming in with their retro creations. Our friend Alan Smith of the Montclair band The Porchistas was there with his sister Nina Corona who entered her rice pudding into the contest. One thing that stood out were the vibrant colors of all the desserts that were quickly filling in the long judging tables. Rows and rows of pies, cakes, cookies, bars and jello dishes. It was like walking into a 1960s or 1970s kitchen. Even more so as many entrants, including myself, wore retro outfits.
Once all the entries were set out on the tables we went outside so the judges could get down to the serious business of choosing the winners. The categories included cakes, jello, and pies. My category was Cookies & Bars.
The judging must have been fierce as we watched the judges walking around the tables with pens and score sheets with serious faces as they sampled each of the dishes. There were people peeking in the windows trying to catch a glimpse of what may win. When I entered, I wasn’t really even thinking about winning. I mostly just wanted to see the other desserts. But, once I brought my tray into the judging area, I saw that there were bronze, silver and gold spoons for the winners of each category. Suddenly, I wanted to win a spoon!!
Finally, Rachel Crampsey emerged from the judging and the first category was mine. I was a little anxious of course. Third place and second were announced and I wasn’t named. “In first place by unanimous choice… Alice and her Granny’s Haystacks.” I had won the Cookie and Bar golden spoon!
The Overall Grand Prize winner of the whole Retro Bake Off was Lindsey Wormald for her Cherry Coke Cupcakes. She had three entries in the contest and is a music education major at William Paterson University and is also planning to start her own home-based bakery, Lindzer’s Cookie Jar. We sampled her cupcakes when tasting was opened up to the public and I have to admit they were amazing. Her victory was well deserved.
The bake-off was a great success for a fantastic cause. After the judging, spectators and entrants were able to sample all the desserts.
Now it’s time to start thinking about next year’s dish! Check out all the pictures from the Retro Bake Off at Montclair Bread Company:
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