By Marsha Boswell
After months of analyzing recipes, mixing, kneading, baking and tasting, a panel of judges has selected the recipes that will be represented in the fifth National Festival of Breads, sponsored by King Arthur Flour, Red Star Yeast and Kansas Wheat. The baking competition will be held June 17, in Manhattan.
Eight adult finalists and one youth champion have been named for the biennial National Festival of Breads, the nation's only national amateur bread-baking competition. They are from all over the United States, from Utah to Maryland.
Time-Saving and Simple Breads
Finalists in the Time-Saving and Simple Breads category include Michele Kusma, from Columbus, Ohio, with her Mexican Street Corn Skillet Bread, and Jane Fry, from Elk Falls, Kan., with her Southwest Focaccia.
Inspired by her two successful battles with breast cancer, Kusma realized that if she wants to do things she needs to go for it, because you never know when your last day could be. Since beginning her baking career, Kusma has put her full effort into baking and honing her skills in the art.
A second-time top eight finalist in the National Festival of Breads, Fry says her love for baking goes back to her childhood and her involvement in 4-H. Now Fry loves to bake and cook for family and to see the enjoyment people get from eating something yummy she has made!
Finalists in the Holiday Breads category include Patrice Hurd, from Bemidji, Minn., with her Toasted Cardamom Nordic Crown, and Kellie White, from Valley Park, Mo., with her Orange-Spice Anadama Wreath with Walnuts and Dates.
Growing up with grandparents from different ethnic backgrounds, Hurd's love for baking stems from the traditional recipes that they passed down to her. Hurd now enjoys baking Finnish and Scandinavian recipes as well as yeast breads. This is Hurd's second time as a finalist in the National Festival of Breads.
Born and raised in Kansas, White's involvement in baking goes all the way back to her childhood when a friend of her parents, Ethel, would have her over to help bake yeast breads. White now loves to bake for her family, friends and workplace because of the pure satisfaction she gets out of making a delicious treat for others.
Finalists in the Rolls category include Pam Correll, from Brockport, Pa., with her Orange Marmalade Breakfast Crescents, and Tiffany Aaron, of Quitman, Ark., with her Turmeric-Rosemary and Sweet Potato Rosettes.
Correll gets to spend the better part of her days baking while also teaching others to bake. As a family and consumer science teacher, Correll gets to take the skills she has learned from baking at home and apply them to her work. This is Correll's second time entering the NFOB, and she's excited that this year she will be able to experience the contest as a finalist.
Aaron juggles being a mother to five children and writing for Country Rebel, a country music website, but she still finds time in her busy schedule for baking. Growing up in a little town in Montana, Aaron's joy and skills for baking came from her background of cooking most of the food her family ate.
Whole Grain Breads
Finalists in the Whole Grain Breads category include Ronna Farley, from Rockville, Md., with her Seeded Corn and Onion Bubble Loaf, and Shauna Havey, of Roy, Utah, with her Butternut Romesco Braid.
With a large family to bake for, and dogs who love leftovers, Farley finds enjoyment from cooking because it makes people happy. Farley says she loves making things that are unique and will get an idea about a recipe and change it enough to make it different. This is Farley's second time as a finalist for the National Festival of Breads.
Havey started baking once she was married and says the hobby is both relaxing and soothing to her. Havey has entered different baking and cooking contests to hone her skills and to travel. This is the first time she has entered the National Festival of Breads, and she is excited for the experience that awaits her.
This year's Youth Champion is Michael Favor, a high-school culinary arts student from Madison, Kan., who won with his French Vanilla Donuts. While the Youth Champion doesn't compete in the national competition, he will receive a $500 scholarship.
Adult contestants will travel to Manhattan to bake their creations on June 17, at the National Festival of Breads, sponsored by King Arthur Flour, Red Star Yeast and Kansas Wheat. While in Kansas, contestants will participate in a host of additional activities, including a Wheat Harvest Tour with stops at a wheat farm, research facility and flour mill.
The grand prize winner will receive a cash prize of $2,000, plus a year's supply of Red Star Yeast and a trip to the King Arthur Flour Baking Education Center in Norwich, Vt.
To learn more, visit nationalfestivalofbreads.com or follow National Festival of Breads on Facebook.
Boswell is director of communications for Kansas Wheat.