Her strawberry muffins didn't rise, but that didn't bother Jessica Dori. Nor did it prevent her from taking first place in the statewide VICA baking competition over the weekend.
Jessica, a Westminster High School senior, and 13 of her classmates at the Carroll County Career and Technology Center captured first-place honors in their respective categories Saturday.
The students will go on to the national Vocational Industrial Clubs of America contest June 21-25 in Louisville, Ky.
On Saturday, the comforting smells of yeast rising, muffins baking and angel food cake puffing in the ovens seemed to take the tension out of the baking competition.
As Jessica braided strands of light rye dough into two decorative loaves, she said she and most of the other contestants had a friendly attitude instead of tense competition.
Jessica had been hoping little touches like braiding her loaves would set her apart. For the muffins, students were allowed to use any fruit or nuts. Jessica said she chose strawberries, "just to be different."
After her muffins came out of the oven looking a bit low, she realized the extra liquid in the strawberries was probably to blame. But she shrugged it off and deftly finished off her elaborate rye braids.
The creativity is what she likes about cooking. "You can change around recipes after you figure out the formulas," Jessica said.
The competition was held at three places. Most of the skills competitions, such as masonry and carpentry, were held at Howard County School of Technology in Clarksville.
The culinary arts and baking competitions were at the Baltimore International Culinary Arts School in Baltimore. Leadership competition and the awards ceremony were at Catonsville Community College in Baltimore County.
Following are the winners from the Carroll County Career and Technology Center who competed in the state VICA Skill Olympics.
* First-place winners: Robert King, air conditioning and refrigeration; Beth Bonde, commercial sewing; Jessica Dori, commercial baking; Diane Eagle, Marilyn Staub, Cherice Warner, Julie Schoen and Kevin Firestone, health occupation knowledge bowl -- post secondary; Lacy Stonesifer, job skill demonstration A, and Michelle Koone, model; Frank Hill, Precision Machining; Mike Goodwin, residential plumbing; Mark Mosley, residential wiring; Mike Fletcher, welding.
* Second-place winners: Angie Robertson, culinary arts; Tom Harris, electronic products servicing; Charity Blevins, Doreen Watson, Julie Ensor and Angie Peterson, health occupation knowledge bowl -- secondary; Robin Slate, job skill demonstration A, and Lori Heltribridle, model; Jason Wagner, residential plumbing; Claudius Elmore, residential wiring -- post secondary; Eric Cotherman, sheet metal; Joe Anderson, home improvement; Scott Moyle, action skills demonstration.
* Third-place winners: William Graf, auto service technology; Tony Bitzel, brick masonry; Denise Greeley, Erin Dawson, Stacy Hargett, Calley Lee, Carrie Gross, Toni Geppi and Michelle Stonesifer, opening and closing ceremony.