Christmas cakes, cookies and competition


Northern Hospital holds staff Bake Off

By Bill Colvard - bcolvard@civitasmedia.com



House Reindeer and Bake Off Hostess Ashly Lancaster surprises Cade Wright, MSN, RN with the coveted Bakers’ Trophy for her staff-voted winning cake entry.


Submitted photos

Regina Webb, RHIT, coding specialists at Northern, is all smiles as she is presented with her one-of-a-kind Cookie Baker Trophy by Ashly Lancaster.


Submitted photos

“Wellesley Fudge Cake” was the winning cake entry, as voted on by hospital staff, baked by OB Nurse Manager Cade Wright. This cake was a real comeback kid as Wright almost didn’t enter it in the contest.


Submitted photos

“Seven-Layer Cookies” received the most votes in the cookie category, baked by Regina Webb.


Submitted photos

The coveted Bakers’ Trophies were on display during the event.


Submitted photos

These “Mini Cinnamon Roll Cookies,” baked by Terri Kirkman, were a big favorite. They are cut in small chunks for tasting.


Submitted photos

Members of Northern’s Laboratory staff make their way through the taste tester line. Clinton Brim, Mary Ayers, Judy Smith, and Kaye Mabe had a tough choice.


Submitted photos

“Christmas Velvet Cake with Pecan Cream Cheese Icing” was the unofficial presentation award winner of the day. This cake received the most compliments on its appearance. It was just as yummy as it looks, agreed tasters.


Submitted photos

Northern Hospital held its first Christmas Cake and Cookie Bake Off on Wednesday, Dec. 16 in the hospital cafeteria. Thirteen employees baked homemade cakes while six whipped up homemade cookies. More than a hundred staff members came through during their lunch to test each of the 19 entries and vote on their favorite cake and cookie while serenaded with streaming Christmas music.

Ashly Lancaster, marketing and communications director for Northern Hospital, explains the origin of the event, “In the summer, we held our first ever Sonker Cook Off. Staff were invited to bake sonkers of all kinds to be tasted and judged by staff. We had 17 entries, it was a big hit. Staff had the best time going through and comparing all the cobblers.”

Lancaster adds that she feels like a hostess at a dinner party at these events, “always getting nervous the morning of the event while waiting for the bakers to drop off their goodies, worried that no one will show.”

Some of the many delicious varieties of cakes and cookies were Mountain Apple Cake, Pecan Caramel Spice Coffee Cake, Carrot Cake, White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies, Peanut Butter Delights, and “Elf Nuggets.”

Tammy Jenkins surprised herself during the tasting. “I had the pleasure of sampling the cakes and cookies that were entered in our hospital’s bake off. I am normally drawn to chocolate and red velvet cakes until I tasted the apple cake. My vote was immediately changed. The cake reminded of my mom’s and the holiday Thanksgiving and Christmas cakes she used to make every holiday. When I tasted the cake it brought tears to my eyes and wonderful memories of holidays past,” said Jenkins.

The winning cookies were made by Regina Webb with her 7-Layer Cookie. “This recipe became a tradition in our family over 40 years ago.” says Webb. “My mother, Evelyn Norman, always prepared it around Christmas time. We always looked forward to these cookies. I am glad I had the opportunity to share them with our NHSC family at Christmas. With all the yummy entries, I was pleasantly surprised to be the winner.”

The winning cake was Cade Wright’s Wellesley Fudge Cake. Since discovering the recipe six months ago, it has become one of her specialties. She knew it was a keeper when her son ate the first one all by himself in a single sitting. Though she didn’t get a chance to taste it, Wright said at the time, “It must be good.” She’s baked the cake five or six times since then and it always receives rave reviews.

Though Wellesley Fudge Cake is new to Cade Wright’s baking repertoire, the cake has quite a history. When Henry Fowler Durant founded Wellesley College in the 1870’s, he was apparently very concerned about the “freshman 15” at the newly founded women’s college.

Durant decreed that “Pies, lies, and doughnuts should never have a place at Wellesley College” and forbade sweets at the college. Durant may have eliminated pies and doughnuts from his college but lies ran rampant as the students ignored their pledge to only eat food from the cafeteria and began making fudge in the dorms. Within 10 years, the student’s luscious fudge had morphed into a cake and several tearooms in town offered Wellesley fudge cake on their menus.

Cade Wright agrees with historians that “the icing makes this cake.” The cake takes four hours to make but Wright says it is definitely worth it. Wright’s coworkers urged her to enter the cake in Northern’s bake off, having tasted one of her earlier cakes but she didn’t get home until 8 p.m. the night before and knew it was going to be a late night.

Things began to head south when the cake layers didn’t want to release from the pan and then disaster struck about midnight when the top layer split in half as it was placed on the lower layer. Wright decided all was lost and decided not to enter the contest. The cake, though time consuming, had never been fussy before and she marked the failure down to excessive humidity as it was raining at the time

The next day when she told her coworkers what had happened, they urged her to go home to get the cake and cut it up into little tasting pieces. Wright did just that and the rest, as they say, is history. “God taught me a lesson,” says Wright. “Sometimes your greatest disappointments can lead to your greatest winners.”

Wellesley Fudge Cake

Cade Wright

Cake

2 1/2 cups (12-1/2 ounces) flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 cup hot water

1/2 cup (1-1/2 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder (Hersheys)

16 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened

2 cups (14 ounces) granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup buttermilk, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Frosting

1-1/2 cups packed (10-1/2 ounces) light brown sugar

1 cup evaporated milk

8 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces and softened

1/2 tsp. salt

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 cups (12 ounces) confectioners’ sugar, sifted

For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 8-inch square cake pans. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in bowl; set aside. In small bowl, whisk hot water and cocoa together until smooth; set aside. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions, scraping down bowl as needed. Slowly add cocoa mixture and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Give batter final stir by hand.

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and smooth tops with rubber spatula. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out with few crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking. Let cakes cool in pans on wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove cakes from pans and let cool completely on rack, about 2 hours.

For the frosting: Heat brown sugar, 1/2 cup evaporated milk, 4 tablespoons butter, and salt in large saucepan over medium heat until small bubbles appear around perimeter of pan, 4 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until large bubbles form and mixture has thickened and turned deep golden brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer to large bowl. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup evaporated milk and remaining 4 tablespoons butter until mixture is slightly cooled. Add chocolate and vanilla and stir until smooth. Whisk in confectioners sugar until incorporated. Let cool completely, stirring frequently, about 1 hour. Frosting will thicken as it cools. (Wait!)

Line edges of cake platter with 4 strips of parchment paper to keep platter clean. Place 1 cake layer on platter. Spread 1 cup frosting evenly over top, right to edge of cake. Top with second cake layer and press lightly to adhere. Spread remaining frosting evenly over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate cake until frosting is set, about 1 hour, Carefully remove parchment strips before serving.

Seven Layer Cookies

Regina Webb

1 stick of margarine (melted)

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

6 oz. semi sweet chocolate morsels

6 oz. butterscotch morsels

1 cup of coconut

1 cup of chopped pecans

1 can sweetened condensed milk

Spray 9 x 13 baking dish with non stick cooking spray. Combine graham cracker crumbs and melted margarine. Press mixture into bottom of dish. Layer chocolate morsels, butterscotch morsels, coconut and chopped pecans evenly. Drizzle sweetened condensed milk evenly over mixture. Bake in preheated 350°F. oven for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow to cool completely. Cut into small pieces. Enjoy.

Christmas Velvet Cake

Terri Kirkman

1 cup butter, softened

2 1/2 cups sugar

6 large eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour

3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1 (8-ounce) container sour cream

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 (1-ounce) bottle red food coloring

1 (1-ounce) bottle green food coloring

1 ½ recipes of Cream Cheese Icing

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Stir together flour, cocoa, and baking soda. Add to butter mixture alternately with sour cream, beating at low speed just until blended, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in vanilla. Divide batter in half. Stir in red food coloring in one batch and green food coloring in the other batch. Spoon batter evenly into 6 greased and floured 8-inch round foil cake pans. You should have 3 green and 3 red. Bake at 350°F. for 18 to 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. (I bake 3 pans at a time.) Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire racks. Alternating red and green layers, spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers. If you are adding pecans to icing, spread frosting between layers before adding the pecans. In the remaining icing, stir in pecans and spread over top and sides of cake. Garnish, with fresh mint sprigs, raspberry candies if desired.

Cream Cheese Icing

Terri Kirkman

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 (16-ounce) packages powdered sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Chopped Pecans, if desired

Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla extract. Stir in pecans if desired.

Mini Cinnamon Roll Cookies

Terri Kirkman

1 cup butter, softened

1-3/4 cups sugar, divided

3 large egg yolks

1 tbsp. honey

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

1 tbsp. ground cinnamon

Cream Cheese Glaze

In a large bowl, cream butter and 1-1/4 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, 1 tablespoon honey and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cream of tartar; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Shape a heaping tablespoonful of dough into a 6-in. log. In a shallow bowl, combine cinnamon and remaining sugar; roll log in cinnamon-sugar. Loosely coil log into a spiral shape; place on a greased baking sheet. Repeat, placing cookies 1 in. apart. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon-sugar. Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. Drizzle cream cheese glaze over cookies. I use a decorator bag and cut the tip off to make a fine drizzle. Let stand until set. Store in an airtight container. Yield: about 2-1/2 dozen

Cream Cheese Glaze

Terri Kirkman

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 to 4 tbsp. milk

Beat cream cheese until very creamy. Beat in powdered sugar. Stir in vanilla. Add 3 tablespoons milk. Totally combine. Add more milk to get desired consistency.

House Reindeer and Bake Off Hostess Ashly Lancaster surprises Cade Wright, MSN, RN with the coveted Bakers’ Trophy for her staff-voted winning cake entry.
http://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_Cook-Cake-Winner-1.jpgHouse Reindeer and Bake Off Hostess Ashly Lancaster surprises Cade Wright, MSN, RN with the coveted Bakers’ Trophy for her staff-voted winning cake entry. Submitted photos

Regina Webb, RHIT, coding specialists at Northern, is all smiles as she is presented with her one-of-a-kind Cookie Baker Trophy by Ashly Lancaster.
http://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_Cook-Cookie-Winner-1.jpgRegina Webb, RHIT, coding specialists at Northern, is all smiles as she is presented with her one-of-a-kind Cookie Baker Trophy by Ashly Lancaster. Submitted photos

“Wellesley Fudge Cake” was the winning cake entry, as voted on by hospital staff, baked by OB Nurse Manager Cade Wright. This cake was a real comeback kid as Wright almost didn’t enter it in the contest.
http://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_Cook-Cake-10-Welsby-Fudge-Cake-1.jpg“Wellesley Fudge Cake” was the winning cake entry, as voted on by hospital staff, baked by OB Nurse Manager Cade Wright. This cake was a real comeback kid as Wright almost didn’t enter it in the contest. Submitted photos

“Seven-Layer Cookies” received the most votes in the cookie category, baked by Regina Webb.
http://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_Cook-Cookie-1-Seven-Layer-1.jpg“Seven-Layer Cookies” received the most votes in the cookie category, baked by Regina Webb. Submitted photos

The coveted Bakers’ Trophies were on display during the event.
http://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_Cook-Trophies-1.jpgThe coveted Bakers’ Trophies were on display during the event. Submitted photos

These “Mini Cinnamon Roll Cookies,” baked by Terri Kirkman, were a big favorite. They are cut in small chunks for tasting.
http://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_Cook-IMG_0351-1.jpgThese “Mini Cinnamon Roll Cookies,” baked by Terri Kirkman, were a big favorite. They are cut in small chunks for tasting. Submitted photos

Members of Northern’s Laboratory staff make their way through the taste tester line. Clinton Brim, Mary Ayers, Judy Smith, and Kaye Mabe had a tough choice.
http://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_Cook-Lab-Staff-1.jpgMembers of Northern’s Laboratory staff make their way through the taste tester line. Clinton Brim, Mary Ayers, Judy Smith, and Kaye Mabe had a tough choice. Submitted photos

“Christmas Velvet Cake with Pecan Cream Cheese Icing” was the unofficial presentation award winner of the day. This cake received the most compliments on its appearance. It was just as yummy as it looks, agreed tasters.
http://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_Cook-Cake-13-Christmas-Red-Velvet-Presentation-Winner-1.jpg“Christmas Velvet Cake with Pecan Cream Cheese Icing” was the unofficial presentation award winner of the day. This cake received the most compliments on its appearance. It was just as yummy as it looks, agreed tasters. Submitted photos
Northern Hospital holds staff Bake Off

By Bill Colvard

bcolvard@civitasmedia.com

Nominate your favorite cook to share their love of food with readers of The Mount Airy News.

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699, on Twitter @BillColvard.

Nominate your favorite cook to share their love of food with readers of The Mount Airy News.

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699, on Twitter @BillColvard.

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