Kansas has long been known as "The Wheat State," and when the National Festival of Breads gets underway June 15-17, we'll be known as "The Bread State," too.
The inaugural event, co-sponsored by Kansas Wheat and the King Arthur Flour Company, features outstanding amateur bread recipes from eight finalists from across the nation. The eight will compete in four categories - Ethnic Breads, Rolls, Time Saving and Easy Breads and Whole Grain Breads - for a Grand Prize featuring $2,000 in cash and an expense-paid trip to the King Arthur Flour Baking Education Center in Norwich, Vermont.
The eight finalists and their breads are:
Whole Grain Category
Marjorie Johnson, Robbinsdale, Minnesota; "ABC Wheat Bread"
Jan Galloway, Columbia, Missouri; "Mom's Best Hearty Wheat Bread"
Dianna Wara, Washington, Illinois; "Tomato, Basil, Garlic Filled Pane Bianco"
Nikki Norman, Milton, Tennessee; "Spiced Cranberry Lemon Danish"
Time Saving and Easy
Jessie Grearson, Falmouth, Maine; "Sweet Life Sweet Potato Focaccia"
Tanna Richard, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; "Healthy Homemade Bread"
Judy Reynolds, Bloomington, Indiana; "Cranberry and Lemonade Cream Rolls"
Gloria Piantek, West Lafeyette, Indiana; "Bacon Onion Baby Brioche"
Finalists were determined by reviewing more than 500 recipes submitted to Kansas Wheat and King Arthur Flour, through the Internet. A panel of judges narrowed these submissions to just more than 100 recipes, which were test-baked by a Kansas Wheat home economist and "Speak for Wheat" spokesperson. These were then taste-sampled by a panel of judges.
"We were pleased at the number of home bakers who entered from across the United States. We had bakers from nearly every state," says Kansas Wheat Commission Nutrition Educator Cindy Falk, contest coordinator. "There was such a variety of flavors, herbs, and other ingredients; everything from green tea to crystallized ginger and many different types of cheeses and meat fillings."
The finalists gather in Wichita June 15-17 for the National Festival of Breads. While in Kansas, contestants will learn about wheat production from the farm, to the fork, by participating in a Wheat Harvest Tour on June 16, which includes a motorcoach tour to a wheat farm during harvest; grain elevator and flour mill.
"The educational component of the National Festival of Breads is important. Not only are contestants visiting Kansas, The Wheat State during the annual wheat harvest, they are going to learn how wheat becomes flour and eventually makes its way to the dinner table," Falk says.
The Public is Invited
On June 17, the Festival is open to the public, with several free events, including:
Baking Sessions. Featuring Paula Gray, King Arthur Flour and Sharon Davis, Home Baking Association, these sessions begin at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. and are repeated at 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Each session is 60 minutes long.
Gray's topic is "Bread 101." "We'll explore the differences among wheat flours, how ingredients work, learn bread-kneading and shaping techniques, and more," says Gray, a Senior Life Skills Instructor with King Arthur Flour.
Davis will focus on "A Baker's Dozen Breads from One." "Expand your yeast bread skills to include the art and science of substitutions and additions to a basic yeast dough. We'll demonstrate how bakers include multiple whole grain flours, milk, cheeses, vegetables, and more for delicious variety breads," says Davis, Home Baking Association staff member and Family and Consumer Sciences teacher.
Free Exhibits. Multiple organizations and business will have displays at the Festival of Breads "Mini Trade Show." These include: Pampered Chef, Midwest Dairy Council; Kansas Farm Bureau, the Cranberry Marketing Committee; AIB International; Farmer Direct Foods, Kansas State University Extension and the Kansas Department of Commerce. Also, several artists will have displays, too, including the Kansas Association of Straw Artists and potters Steve and Jayne Frye and Carl Brothers. Finally, the Oklahoma Wheat Commission will prepare and bake fresh bread on-site, sharing samples with attendees.
Urban Wheat Field. Attendees at the National Festival of Breads will have the opportunity to walk through a miniature "Urban Wheat Field," which will have wheat plants in various stages of growth with educational displays to explain how wheat gets from the field to your plate.
Watch the Contestants at Work! The National Festival of Breads finalists will prepare their bread recipes in miniature test kitchens inside the Wichita Airport Hilton Ballroom, during the Festival. Attendees will have the chance to interact with contestants at this time.
All Festival activities are free and open to the public; however, attendees are asked to bring a non-perishable, canned food item for donation to the Kansas Foodbank Warehouse in Wichita. The doors open to the public at 7:30 a.m. and the Festival is finished at 4 p.m. At that time, a panel of judges will begin bread evaluation.
An awards banquet, recognizing the winners, begins at 7 p.m.
"The day of the Festival promises to be fun and educational, with a lot of activities for home bakers, students and 4-H and FFA participants," says Aaron Harries, director of marketing at Kansas Wheat. "We also want to use this opportunity to help those less fortunate. That's why we are soliciting donations to the Kansas Foodbank Warehouse as the cost of admission."