Competition heats up at school bake-off


Competition among school-lunch cooks was fierce yesterday at an annual bake-off in Ocean City, and in the end school cafeterias from Carroll County and Baltimore City reigned supreme.

Those school systems are bringing home 11 of the 17 ribbons handed out.

"It was very close," said Beth McCreery, chairwoman of the annual Maryland School Food Services Association bake-off.

McCreery said schools from 10 Maryland counties and the city entered, and there were some tense moments. One participant forgot to bring her recipe, and, rushing to the hotel to retrieve it, got in a fender bender. Another cook's cake collapsed in her car while driving to the event Friday.

"She was close to tears," McCreery said. "But we let her enter. We had the edges. We just sliced it up and put it on a plate."

Carroll County schools starred, grabbing seven awards. Westminster High baked a raisin-apple crisp and a pear bread that won second- and third-place awards, respectively.

Also from Carroll, Hampstead Elementary School's peanut-butter-and-jelly muffins won a first place; Friendship Valley Elementary's sweet potato cake took a second; and Oklahoma Road Middle's chocolate-cherry-almond bars , West Middle's peach muffins and North Carroll High's soft oatmeal cookies all won third-place prizes.

There were 45 entries yesterday across six categories, and judges scored for taste, presentation and how appropriate a treat is for the National School Lunch Program.

Baltimore City, which does not denote which individual school submits its entries, was the only school system to take two first-place awards. Its yeast rolls and peanut butter cookies took home firsts. The city also won a second-place and a third-place prize.

Other first-place awards went to E. Russell Hicks Middle School in Washington County for its brownies, the Cecil County school system for its "whoopie" pie cake and Calvert County for its baked pineapple delight.

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