Tag: blue ribbon bread

Best Sourdough Croissants (Cachitos)

Are you seeking the best sourdough croissants recipe? How about one that features chocolate and almond flavors? And one that has a great story behind them? Look no further. This best sourdough croissants recipe won our “best sourdough bread contest” at the 2022 Minnesota State Fair.

MN State Fair Winner Best Sourdough Croissants

They come from Guillermo Guardia, who tells us that in his home country of Peru, croissants are known as cachitos. Guillermo is a ceramics artist, art teacher and now, a blue ribbon winning sourdough baker.

By his own admission, Guillermo is not really into cooking but loved baking bread in a bread making machine. When it suddenly broke one day, with dough in it. He took it out and worked with the dough for the first time and loved the experience.

It was fascinating to see the dough change and rise. It was magical. Since then, baking has become a stimulating and rewarding activity.

At some point I was baking almost every weekend, especially Sundays. I even named my sourdough starter Dominga, a Spanish female name for Sunday.

Baking and ceramics are somehow similar. Both use raw materials/ingredients that are mixed together with water and shaped by hand into something that is transformed by heat into something new. Because of  my art clay training, kneading and shaping the dough came naturally to me.

Guillermo started with sourdough baguettes, because they were his father’s favorite. Soon he was ready to tackle croissants. He noted, “I could use my clay skills with every key step, from laminating and rolling the dough to cutting and shaping it for the oven.”

His efforts paid off. The deciding judge on contest day said his croissants were “unbelievably good, beautiful, and perfect in every way.”

Congratulations Guillermo!

*Check back on this post as we hope to catch up with Guillermo in-person at some point and add some helpful technique photos. In the meantime, if you’re a fan of sourdough bread baking, give this recipe a try!


Prize-Winning Parmesan & Chive Scones

These homemade, aromatic, prize-winning parmesan & chive scones are simply the best savory scones, in more ways than one.

You will relish their phenomenal taste and tender yet firm texture. Their golden brown appearance is drool-worthy for sure. If you love savory scones like we do, be sure to bake these soon! They are perfect for weekend brunches and snacks in between meals.

Prize-winning parmesan & chive scones

This remarkable recipe comes from Amy Ellenberger.

Blue Ribbon Baker - Best Scone Winner 2021 MN State Fair

Amy won “Best Scones” at the 2021 Minnesota State Fair with this recipe. One taste and you’ll know why this one is a winner.

We asked Amy what her secret to winning was. In her words: “Because scones are a fairly simple baked good (as in few ingredients), it is important to use the best quality ingredients, as there isn’t much to hide behind. For this recipe I like to use (Minnesota-based) Hope Creamery butter, a sour cream (like Daisy) that doesn’t contain thickeners and other artificial ingredients, garden fresh chives, and high-quality Parmesan cheese that is freshly grated.”

Step by Step Tutorial

Take Amy’s top tip and begin with the best ingredients.

Parmesan Chive Scones

You start by mixing the dry ingredients with the cheese and chives.

Prize-winning Parmesan & Chive Scones

Next, you cut in the cold butter. By the way, Amy’s family buys Hope Creamery butter by the case.

Prize-winning Parmesan & Chive Scones

At this stage you want to see the chilled butter in tiny clumps, roughly the size of peas.

Butte Cut in Stage - Prize-winning Parmesan & Chive Scones

You also use both sour cream and buttermilk in the recipe, plus an egg.

Prize-Winning Parmesan & Chive Scones

Mix the sour cream, buttermilk and egg smooth, then combine that mixture with your flour mixture.

Prize-winning Parmesan & Chive Scones

Once everything is together, you want a shaggy look to the dough.

Be careful not to overwork the dough. Shape it into a flat circle. You want it 1 ½ inches thick.

Prize-winning Parmesan & Chive Scones

Then cut out the scones. You should get 12 (2-inch size) rounds (or squares if you prefer that shape).

Prize-winning Parmesan & Chive Scones

As your final step, you brush each with heavy cream, then sprinkle with parmesan, a pinch of sea salt, and fresh cracked black pepper. You also want to chill them 30 minutes at this stage.

From Amy: Don’t skip the chilling step. This ensures the butter is solid and won’t leak out of your scones during baking.

Prize-Winning Parmesan & Chive Scones

After the chill time, the only thing to do is wait for them to bake (at 350 degrees Fahrenheit) for 25-30 minutes.

Prize-Winning Parmesan & Chive Scones: every bite will be pure delight. Seriously. Hit the kitchen and bake these now!


p.s. Scones are best eaten shortly after they are baked. However, you can opt to freeze the dough to fresh bake the scones later (ideally within 2 months). Or you can freeze them after baking. Just pop a frozen one in the microwave for about 30 seconds before you nosh.


Blue Ribbon Wheat Bread

This Blue Ribbon Wheat Bread is nothing short of perfection. We savored every slice and you will too!

Toasted Slice Blue Ribbon Wheat Bread

Recipe credit goes to Heather Zarrett who won “best whole wheat bread” and “best overall yeast bread” with it at the 2021 Minnesota State Fair. 

Heather Zarrett

Heather accomplished a “perfect bake” with her Blue Ribbon Wheat Bread. The recipe is one she knows by heart. It is her go-to whenever she wants to whip up a whole wheat loaf.  Also, it is based on a white bread loaf she uses as her starting point, or spring board to create new variations. We loved how perfectly it was baked. Just look at the inside texture. Wow.  

Sliced Bread with Butter, Jam

The tall rectangular pan she uses gives her Blue Ribbon Wheat Bread a boxy appearance, a shape with clean lines that are squared off.

Loaf of Blue Ribbon Wheat Bread

This blue ribbon baker is no stranger to winning. Heather has 50 award ribbons in her collection, all achieved at the Minnesota State Fair. The baking competitions there are referred to as the unofficial baking Olympics. With thousands of baking and cooking-related entries each year, it takes a lot of skill to stand out. We should note Heather also placed second in the “angel food cakes,” those sweet and airy sponge cakes we all love. Impressive! 

Secret to Winning?!

Heather felt one of her secrets to her winning success is milling her own flour from wheat berries. It gives the bread an ideal taste, texture and aroma.

Blue Ribbon Baking

Heather gets her wheat berries from her local food co-op or from the Minnesota folks at Sunrise Flour Mill. She also noted to make sure your yeast is fresh.

Give this recipe a try. We got our first taste from a loaf still warm from the oven, smothered with butter. Our enjoyment continued by having a toasted slice with peanut butter. We even spoiled ourselves with a cubed avocado and an egg on top. Conclusion, home-baked blue ribbon bread makes everything taste better.



Sourdough Polish Rye Bread

This Sourdough Polish Rye Bread won first place at the Minnesota State Fair back in 2016. That tells you how delicious it was. We’re still thinking about it after all these years =) Caraway seeds and molasses flavor this rye bread to perfection.

Loving to Bake

Randy Bush created this best-ever bread recipe. His father was a baker, so naturally, Randy picked up his mad baking skills and carried on his love of bread. Randy was inspired to develop this particular bread when a friend – who was originally from Poland – said he missed the breads from home. He perfected the recipe. The response was so positive, he had to see how it would stack up against others who also baked as a hobby.

Sourdough Polish Rye Bread

Bound for Blue Ribbon Glory

Randy entered his Sourdough Polish Rye Bread in the Minnesota State Fair ‘s annual baking competition, sometimes referred to as the unofficial baking Olympics of Minnesota. Well, Randy nailed it like an Olympic gymnast because the judges voted it #1. They noted how enticing the aroma was and how truly perfect the texture was. In other words, Randy’s home-baked bread was a home run.

Pro Tip

Plan accordingly if you’re going to replicate this award-winning recipe. Randy makes his mature rye starter over the course of a few weeks, by combining a tablespoon each of rye flour and water, and adding the same to that each day for at least two weeks. You will have enough to use, plus extra to keep maturing if needed.

Do you love bread baking? Do you want to further develop those baking skills honed during the pandemic? Give Randy’s Sourdough Polish Rye Bread recipe a go. One taste and you’ll know why its worth the time and effort. And if you’re looking for more blue ribbon breads, try these biscuits or this olive nut bread.




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