Author: blueribbongroup

Blue Ribbon “Boston Cream Pie” Pie

This Blue Ribbon “Boston Cream Pie” Pie is divine, plus it’s easy, fun to make, and epic in taste. You par-bake a pie crust and bake a chocolate layer on top of that. Then comes a creamy custard layer and cubed pound cake. You finish it with a chocolate drizzle. Wow! This may need to go into the “best dessert ever” category.

Before making this pie, I had only experienced Boston cream doughnuts and not the traditional dessert, Boston Cream Pie, which is actually a cake. Confused? Apparently, long ago, cakes and pies were baked in the same pan, so that’s how the Boston Cream Pie got its curious title.

Great for Birthdays, Special Occasions, or Any Time

I pulled this recipe from the Blue Ribbon Group archives when a good friend requested something like it for his birthday.  I wished I had sooner. This Blue Ribbon “Boston Cream Pie” Pie is an absolute winner!

Woodstock Fair Winner

Recipe credit goes to Vanessa Sullivan, who won 1st place for it at the Woodstock Fair in Connecticut (2011). It was for a pie baking championship supported by Pillsbury pie crusts.  Refrigerated and frozen pie crusts can be such time savers. For this Blue Ribbon Boston Cream Pie, you can use a pre-made pie crust or make your own crust. If homemade is your thing, search for our Best Pie Crust Recipe to find a favorite of ours.

When I made this Blue Ribbon “Boston Cream Pie” Pie for photographs, I used that Best Pie Crust Recipe of ours but replaced half the butter with coconut oil. That gave me a much more firm crust. This held up well against the chocolate layer baked on top of it, and the overall weight of the pie.

I made a few other modifications to Vanessa’s recipe also. I used whole milk and butter instead of heavy cream in the chocolate layer, and upped the chocolate ingredients in order to have more drizzle on top.

For the pound cake layer, I used a Japanese castella, a sponge cake from my nearby, favorite Asian grocery store, United Noodle. (Why stop at two stores when you can get it done with one.) A Sara Lee pound cake or Entenmann’s “all butter cake” would work nicely too. Those products are also more widely available.

You can make the crust, chocolate and custard ahead of time and do the pound cake layer and drizzle just before serving.

Or you can fully make it and refrigerate it.

Any way you go about it, this is a winner. I know I’ll be making this pie again and again. I hope you love it too.


More for Pie Lovers:

Dinner idea: Savory Butternut Squash Carrot Pie

Into fruit pies? Get this Raspberry Peach Pie in your oven!

Looking for a traditional Boston Cream Pie? Try this Betty Crocker version.


Blue Ribbon Biscuits

These Blue Ribbon Biscuits – made with buttermilk, butter, coconut oil, and baking powder – are based on a State Fair of Texas winning recipe. (Hey there Big Tex). Bake these and you’ll see how easy great biscuits are to make.

Blue Ribbon Biscuits - Best Buttermilk Biscuits

Back in 2015, Krysabelle Gilbert of Lindale, Texas made these blue ribbon biscuits and won “best of show.” She called them “Butter ’em up Biscuits” and they won out of 27 entries in her division. Nice work!

Most Popular Baking Categories at Fairs

Baked goods that year, as always, were a popular competition category. (You may recall the Texas winning Lemon Chess Pie from 2015 on our sister site; also yum). It was a big year. Check out what was entered at the State Fair of Texas that year overall. These were all made at home by amateur bakers, aka hobby bakers, people who don’t earn a living baking.

  • 231 cookies
  • 189 cakes
  • 169 pies
  • 158 breads

Whew! That is a lot of baking! It is also so inspiring.

Home-Baked is Best

Whenever I make home-made biscuits, from scratch, I ask myself, “why don’t I make these more often?!” So, when I had leftover buttermilk from another recipe, I dug out this blue ribbon biscuit recipe, a classic. With just 7 ingredients, all staples in my pantry, and 40 minutes to spare, it was game on.

I greased the pan with butter and measured out my portion for the dough. Then I realized I didn’t have any shortening on hand. (So much for a stacked pantry…) No worries though. I love baking with coconut oil and had plenty of that. I simply replaced the shortening with the same amount of coconut oil.

Overall, I ended up increasing the butter and coconut oil “shortening” amounts from  Krysabelle’s version. After combining those two ingredients into the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt and sugar), I added the buttermilk and egg.  I mixed it just until it was combined. That was something Krysabelle emphasized. Don’t overmix. If you want a tender fluffy biscuit, just follow that rule. Other than that, biscuit dough is hard to mess it up. I like that in a recipe.

Anyway, within 15 minutes, my biscuits were ready for the oven.

Blue Ribbon Biscuits - Dough in pan

When they came out, 13 minutes later, they smelled and looked amazing. I let them sit a couple minutes. Then, with oversize spatulas, I moved the entire batch out of the pan and onto a wire rack. I waited a long 5 or so minutes, then smothered one with jam to eat. Delicious!

Blue Ribbon Biscuits with Jelly

Great for Brunch Buffets

I hope you try your hand at these soon too. They work great on a buffet table or for a biscuit bar where people can build their own savory (gravy or sandwiches) or go the sweet route with various jams and jellies.

If you want to round out a Texas State Fair winning recipe theme with your brunch. Search the blog for “Texas” and you’ll find a few options, both sweet and savory.



Blue Ribbon Fresh Herb Olive Nut Bread

Fresh Herb Olive Nut Bread: If you want a flavorful bread that wows people and is easy to make, bake this blue ribbon winning bread.

From fresh garlic, shallots, and chives, to basil, dill weed, and oregano, this bread incorporates them all, and more. You can change up the herbs based on your favorites and what’s on hand. That makes this dough so versatile. Love dill? Use more of it. Or switch to rosemary if that’s what you’re craving.

Last year we had the opportunity to test, tweak and photograph a big batch of bread recipes for a client. This blue ribbon-winning Fresh Herb Olive Nut Bread was a stand out. In fact, we are still drooling over its flavors.

Slather it with some great butter on it and it’s a double wow! I brought the bread to a wine and cheese party and it was an absolute hit! The only bummer was no leftovers to have as toast in the morning.

Recipe credit goes to Susan Erickson, who won her blue ribbon at the Seattle-Tacoma area Washington State Fair, aka the Puyallup Fair (2016). She won best bread in a themed recipe contest supported by Fleischmann’s Yeast.

Blue Ribbon Winner Tips

When she won, Susan shared that for most of her baking years, she was been known for her desserts. She only baked her first breads in 2014. Once she had the basics down though, she was hooked! Those basics were knowing when the yeast was working (thumbs up if you see the foam) and handling the dough (flour helps and not over-kneading). Winning first place at the state fair was a big feather in her cap and a cherished experience. Like many so many blue ribbon foodies, this built on her life-long passion for all things delicious.

Susan shared this great baking tip: she buys only one 5 pound bag of flour at a time. “This way, I always have only the freshest flour on hand,” she noted, and added that it makes a subtle but big difference.

Try this blue ribbon fresh herb olive nut bread and you will have a winner on the table too!

Wanting More?

Stay tuned for some fabulous focaccia breads….coming soon!

Got a sweet tooth? Try this Pumpkin Pull-Apart Monkey Bread


Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting:  this luscious layer cake features finely shredded fresh carrots, crushed pineapple, melted butter, eggs, and a few pantry staples in its batter. Once baked, you layer and frost it with a rich cream cheese/pineapple frosting. Chopped pecans add to its tastiness and texture.

This is it people…the carrot cake that won me over. It literally taught me to LOVE carrot cake.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Pecans

Bad vs. Good

Can you believe I never liked it? The truth is, my previous experience (nightmare?) with carrot cake was one bite. I tasted one hunk of an over-baked sheet cake when I was a kid. Turns out there were bitter bits in it too: flour not fully mixed in, and maybe rancid walnuts?! One bit of yuck! After that, for a dessert, I would almost always opt for chocolate cake, a lemon bar, or anything else.

One taste of this carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and I totally changed my tune. It’s dense but completely moist, and the cream cheese frosting is to die for! It was so easy to bake and I loved the creamy look of the batter just before mixing in the pineapple and carrots.

Batter of Carrot Cake

I brought the entire thing (minus my generous slice of course) to friends. Not to brag, but one said it was the best carrot cake he ever tasted. (Thanks Henry!) Another, just widened his eyes and said, “WOW!” (Thanks Jeffrey!) OK, yes, I am bragging, but that’s not the point =). This cake is something you definitely need to try at home!

Slice of Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Championship Cake Award Winner

This cake is another all-time favorite recipe from our archives. It’s based on a 1999 1st place winning recipe the Washington State Fair. Blue ribbon bragging rights went to Mark Yamamoto of Seattle. He won a Championship Cake Award for it. Thank you MARK! Funny thing, 1999 was my first ever year managing a recipe contest and its PR. The Washington State Fair was then known as Puyallup Fair or the Western Washington Fair. In fact, locals still call it the Puyallup Fair.  You know this recipe is good if it has been a favorite of ours for over 20 years! If you’re loving these “oldies but goodies” recipes, be sure to try another 1999 winner from our archives, this Mounds of Joy Cake, another championship cake award winner.

Sifted Flour

When I did our recipe test run for this crazy-good carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, I adjusted only a few ingredients. I opted for sifted all-purpose flour versus cake flour, added pecans, left out the raisins, and decreased the pineapple just a bit. Mark held back his cream cheese frosting recipe, so I added my own here.

As soon as you make this, you’ll have a winner on your hands too! Enjoy!



Lemon Raspberry Chiffon Cake

Sticking with my nostalgia kick, I did a deep dive for another best-ever archived recipe and pulled up this one, for a luscious Lemon Raspberry Chiffon Cake.

Lemon Raspberry Chiffon Cake - Sliced

Blue Ribbon Baking at its Best

This best cake winner originates at the New York State Fair (1999). Luana Impellizzeri won 1st place with it, The cake is one of many major wins for this longtime home baker.

Making this lemon raspberry chiffon cake is easier than it first looks. And it tastes out of this world. The lemon curd cooks up beautifully and adds richness to an already decadent cake. It’s also colorful, lush, and full of flavor.


Slice of Lemon Raspberry Chiffon Cake

The homemade whipped cream melts in your mouth. You’ll love how it pairs with both the raspberries and lemon filling. Enjoy!



Mounds of Joy Cake

The Mounds candy bar merges with the Almond Joy in our “Mounds of Joy Cake.” This great cake is based on a 1999 1st place state fair winning recipe. Eugenia Adams made a vanilla version of it and won a Championship Cake Award in Michigan. She called it a “Mock Mounds” Cake.

I re-vamped Eugenia’s recipe a bit for our recipe test run. For the choco-holic in me (and others), I added chocolate to the frosting and filling. This is a deceivingly simple cake to make. At the same time, it’s a show-stopper that’s epic tasting.

Sliced Mounds of Joy Cake

Almond Joys Got Nuts, Mounds Don’t

To keep with a Mounds/Almond Joy theme, I used almonds as the featured nut instead of just any nut  And since I go crazy for coconut, I also upped the amount of shredded coconut and substituted coconut oil for shortening. I even increased the coconut extract in the cake itself and the filling for extra flavor boosts.

Mounds of Joy Cake showing 1st layer

You start with: three coconut almond cakes.

coconut atop chocolate layer cake

Between them and on top you layer a coconut filling.

Mounds of Joy Cake showing coconut layer

And a chocolate layer. It easy to spread around with the sturdy coconut layer underneath.

chocolate atop coconut layer cake

Eugenia used regular sugar in the frosting, so we did too. Next time I’m going to try it with powdered sugar for a different texture.

makings of chocolate coconut cake

Before the final frosting, you add almonds to the top.

Mounds of Joy Cake almond coconut layer

Then finish it with the chocolate frosting/filling and more coconut.

Coconut Chocolate cake from above

Seriously. This award winning cake is so easy to make! The hardest part of it all is waiting for the cakes to cool so you can deck it out and eat it. Enjoy!


p.s. Coo Coo for Coconut? Search our site for “coconut.” You’ll find a tropical pie and a coconut cocktail you’re sure to love. Plus we’ll keep adding more recipes featuring coconut in the future, so stay tuned.


Banana Bread

Banana bread was one of the first things I baked as a kid. Just thinking about a thick slice smeared with peanut butter gets me drooling every time. My mother always let me be the one to mash the bananas and I did so, by hand, with fervor and might. I still love that preparation step. And I especially love how the kitchen smells with a loaves in the oven.

Over the years, I’ve tried a lot of variations on classic banana bread. My go-to for many years was a recipe using applesauce instead of butter. I also loved the indulgent version that added chocolate chips. Bread for dessert; bring it on!  And how about coconut? That is a favorite of mine. While others like walnuts or some other texture contrast, I most often prefer adding in coconut or doing any simple version, as long as its sensationally moist and banana-y bread.

So when this “Best of Show” quick bread recipe came in from the Indiana State Fair, I was all about trying it!  You’ll love the texture and taste you get by using Greek yogurt.  Use either vanilla or a banana flavor. The pudding mix is a wonderful enhancement as well.

Blue Ribbon Banana Bread – Best in Show

This blue ribbon winning banana bread recipe comes from Teresa Grissom. She won at the Indiana State Fair, Best of Show in the Quick Bread category (2016). Best of Show – for those not in the know – is when a person wins out of all the entries in its category. It means Teresa mastered the techniques needed to make her entry stand out from all the other banana breads. And her ingredient combination nailed it for best taste and texture. So… the bottom line is… this recipe is an award winner…and ready to be baked by you. So hit the kitchen and go bananas.



Raspberry Peach Pie

Raspberry Peach Pie: use this Minnesota State Fair winning recipe to hone your pie baking skills. It comes from Judy Olson who has literally made thousands of pies in her lifetime. She’s won an endless number of blue ribbons. In her recipe Judy shares some great tips for pie perfection! For instance, she suggests using ceramic tiles to help evenly bake your bottom crust.

Raspberry Peach Pie - side shot

It’s tough to nail that perfect crust but use good ingredients – like unbleached flour, quality butter, and ripened fruit – and you are well on your way to a delightful dessert.

Raspberry Peach Pie from above

This fantastic fruit pie won two big honors at the Minnesota State Fair. Judy Olson’s Raspberry Peach Pie won best overall pie out of the 112 total pies entered in 2015. The pie also won runner-up honors in a “best pie” baking competition requiring new, original recipes. Gold Medal Flour sponsored it and we managed.

Want more perfect pie recipes? Search for “pies” on our site.

Thanks for tuning in!



Citrus Ginger Swirl Cookies

If you want a super creative, one of a kind ginger cookie, this recipe for Citrus Ginger Swirl Cookies is for you! Orange zest, lemon zest, molasses, and fresh grated ginger are just a few of its key ingredients. You also get a hints of cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg. A pinch of cayenne rounds out the list of spices used.

Citrus Ginger Swirl Cookies are from our Minnesota State Fair winning cookie archives. Recipe credit goes to Patrice Johnson who created this recipe for a creative cookie contest we organized for Gold Medal Flour. She won 1st place with it in 2015.

Citrus Ginger Swirl Cookies Close Up

Patrice originally named the cookie “pinchies” after her ginger colored cat. These creative sweet treats are impressive in more ways than one. Their design is wonderfully whimsical. Fresh ginger and an inventive mix of ingredients give them a complex yet perfectly balanced flavor. Nice work Patrice!

Besides being a culinary delight, they also have creative artsy look to them which we love.

Citrus Ginger Swirl Cookies aka Pinchies

Bake like a blue ribbon winner and give them a try.



p.s. If you’re a big citrus fan like I am, be sure to try these simple orange cookies. They’re flavor really pops also.

Raspberry Berets

Aptly named Raspberry Berets, these colorful and creative cookie cups are like mini fruit pies. They get me singing the Prince song of the same name every time. We highly recommend baking them, with Prince tunes as your soundtrack.

Raspberry Berets tray of cookies

They are crowd-pleasing and so easy to make! I mean, really easy. You start with a delicious cookie shell made with butter, granulated and powdered sugar, baking soda, salt, and flour. Fresh out of the oven (while still in the tins) you re-press the cups (to be deep enough to hold the fillings) and let them cool.

Beth Krauss won at the 2015 Ohio State Fair with this Raspberry Berets recipe (third place) and said they were inspired by her love of bite-sized desserts. If you love shortbread, you’re going to love these cookie cups. If you love buttercream, you’re going to scream for these.

The “filling” is a seedless raspberry jam with a rich raspberry buttercream on top. You finish them a fresh raspberry.

Baking Tips:

If you are making these raspberry berets ahead of time and freezing, a raspberry gummy works well as a substitute garnish.

Another idea is the bake the cookie shells/cups and freeze them in sealed plastic freezer bags (or refrigerate them instead). You can pre make the buttercream too and keep it in the freezer or fridge. That way, with some raspberry jam and fresh raspberries on hand, you can assemble all or part of the batch on the day that you need them.

Beth, the wining creator of this recipe, says that if raspberries aren’t your thing, go with a lemon curd, coconut custard, or even chocolate pudding as the filling.

Try this award-winning recipe today! You won’t regret it. This is one of our most popular recipes. One taste and you’ll know why. Put these in heavy rotation and in the “best cookie” category.