Northern Hospital of Surry County continued its tradition of semi-annual cooking competitions recently with an “All Things Fruity Bake-Off.”
“It’s everything fruity,” said Ashly Lancaster, director of marketing and communications for Northern. “Some kind of fruit has to be a main ingredient.”
“We do these once or twice a year,” said Lancaster. “Usually twice. We’ll have another one in the fall, closer to the holidays.”
The competitions are simple. Word goes out to hospital staff of the date and theme of the competition. The most recent one had a fruit theme. There have been more generic bake-offs, cookie bake-offs and a chili cook-off in the past. Entries are placed on long tables in the hospital cafeteria identified only by number, so the tasting is blind. Then employees try out the entries and vote on their favorites to select a winner.
This year, there was a tie. Regina Webb’s Strawberry Pretzel Delight and Judy Stevens’ Divinity Cake got exactly the same number of votes.
“We had a tie, and we had no way to do a tie-breaker,” said Lancaster. “So we awarded two grand prizes.”
Both grand-prize winners were presented with a trophy, a stand mixer, a set of mixing bowls, and a collection of baking pans and baking supplies.
Some of the contestant’s recipes have quite a history.
Regina Webb said she was given her prize-winning recipe for Strawberry Pretzel Delight by her dear friend Shirley Hiatt.
“It is my daughter Hannah’s favorite,” says Webb. “She asks for this for her birthday instead of cake. I hope you enjoy this as much as my family does,” she said when her recipe was requested for publication in The Mount Airy News.
Webb is no stranger to the winner’s circle at the hospital bake-offs. Her 7-Layer Cookies took the top prize at the 2015 Cookie Bake-Off.
Judy Stevens has photographic proof of the longevity of her prize-winning Divinity Cake. She has a Polaroid photo taken in 1987 at the birthday party of one of her daughters when she turned 6. Stevens and the birthday girl are pictured smiling behind the towering, three-layer Divinity Cake, with a big number six candle on top.
The cake had already become a family favorite more than 30 years ago when the photo was taken. It has been her most requested, go-to dessert for family get-togethers — and most importantly, everyone’s birthday — in the intervening years.
“It’s the easiest cake to take anywhere,” says Stevens.
Tammy Mayes recipe for Elsie Wall’s Fruit Cake is appearing in The News today for at least the second time, maybe more. The first time around the recipe was called “Three Generation Fruit Cake by Brenda Baker.” Mayes still bakes the fruitcake from the clipping she acquired approximately 10 years ago, though it’s impossible to be sure, as the clipping has no date. According to Mayes, Brenda Baker was the mother of then-pressman Buddy Baker.
When speaking of the recent bake-off and plans for the next one, Ashly Lancaster mused, “we all have to take a break from our healthy eating once in a while.”
Strawberry Pretzel Delight (Winning Recipe)
2 cups crushed pretzels
3 tbsp. sugar
1 ½ sticks margarine
Bake at 400ºF. for 7 minutes. Remove from oven – allow to cool.
8 oz cream cheese (softened)
¾ cup granulated sugar
8 oz. cool whip
Mix cream cheese and sugar together. Fold in cool whip. Spread on top of cooled pretzel mixture.
2 cups boiling water
2 (3 oz) pkgs of strawberry jello
Combine and set aside to cool.
20 oz sliced frozen strawberries
After jello has cooled, stir in sliced frozen strawberries. Allow mixture to slightly gel. Spread over the cream cheese mixture. Keep refrigerated.
Divinity Cake —(Winning Recipe)
3 Layer Lemon, Pineapple, Pistachio Cake
1 box lemon cake mix
1 medium can mandarin oranges(drained) 1 medium can crushed pineapple(drained)
1 large box pistachio pudding mix (instant)
1 large tub Cool Whip
Prepare box of lemon cake mix as directed. Pour batter evenly into 3 round (greased and floured) cake pans. Drop drained mandarin oranges throughout the batter in all cake pans. Bake all three pans at 325°F. for about 20 minutes (or until done). Let cakes cool completely.
In a large bowl combine cool whip, pineapple and pistachio pudding mix; mix well. Chill for 1 hour.
Layer cooled cakes with filling to make 3 even layers.
Large tub of cool whip (I like the Tru Whip in a purple tub if you can find it –it does not have high fructose corn syrup)
Large box of vanilla instant pudding
Large container of yogurt (I use half and half vanilla and strawberry)
Mix that with mixer until creamy and then stir in your fruit. This time I used strawberries and blueberries. It is really good with the canned mandarin oranges and small pineapple chunks too.
Elsie Wall’s Fruit Cake
Tammy has been making this recipe for years. She obtained the recipe from The Mount Airy News an estimated 10 years ago. The recipe appeared as a Three Generation Fruit Cake by Brenda Baker. Brenda was the mother of then pressman Buddy Baker.
1 box Honey Maid graham crackers
2 cups pecans
2 cups English walnuts
1 small bottle red cherries
1 small bottle green cherries
1 pound box raisins
Grind crackers, pecans and walnuts in food processor. Then add raisins and cherries. (Cut all but 5 of each color of cherries into small pieces and mix with cracker and nut mixture.)
Melt over low heat and stir:
1 (16 oz) bag marshmallows
1 (5 oz) can Pet evaporated milk
After this has melted completely, add to above mixture. All of the dry ingredients should be moist and thoroughly mixed. Line rectangular cake pan with wax paper and pour ingredients into pan. It will harden in a short period of time. Add 10 cherries and pecan halves to the top. Cake is ready to be eaten.
Mandarin Orange Cake
1 box basic yellow cake mix
½ cup vegetable oil
1 (11 oz) can mandarin oranges and juice
Bake at 350°F. until done. Cool completely before adding icing.
1 (3 oz) pkg. instant vanilla pudding
1 (1lb 4 oz) can crushed pineapple
1 (9 oz) carton Cool Whip/whipped cream topping
Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Works well to make in advance, allows flavors to blend.
Strawberry Refrigerator Cake
1 box of Pillsbury Moist Supreme Strawberry Cake mix
2 -10 oz. containers of frozen sliced strawberries with sugar (I use Food Lion Brand and let the containers thaw in the refrigerator the night before making the cake)
1 -5.1 oz. box of vanilla Jell-O
1 cup of milk (I use whole milk)
2 -8 oz. containers of the Extra Creamy Cool Whip whipped topping
Optional: Fresh strawberries sliced in half to decorate the top of the cake
Mix and bake cake according to directions on the box using a 9 x 13 pan that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.I use Pillsbury Baking spray with flour. Cool cake completely on a wire rack. Once the cake has cooled, use the end of a wooden spoon to poke holes one inch apart all over the cake.In a blender, puree the two containers of thawed strawberries.Pour the pureed strawberries over the cake allowing each of the holes to fill up.You can lift the sides of the cake gently with a knife as you spread the puree over the cake allowing the extra strawberry puree to fill all sides of the cake.You can also tap the pan on the table to see how much of the hole has been filled with strawberry puree making sure all the holes are filled up. In a large bowl, using a wire whisk, mix the box of vanilla Jell-O with one cup of milk. Once the vanilla pudding is thick, fold in the two containers of Extra Creamy Cool Whip whipped topping mixing with the vanilla pudding until well blended. Spread this over the cake.
**For easy spreading, take spoonfuls of the vanilla pudding/cool whip mixture and drop all over the cake then spread out over the cake**
Refrigerate at least four hours. Best if you can let the cake refrigerate overnight.
Optional: After cake has refrigerated for a few hours, top with fresh sliced strawberries. Use blueberries to make stars and the strawberries to make stripes for an American Flag decoration on top of your cake. Great for your 4th of July get together. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.