HARRISBURG – Contestants in the 102nd Pennsylvania Farm Show angel food and chocolate cake baking contests over this past weekend found that they could have their cake and eat it too.
After panels of judges evaluated the sweet entries by tasting each cake, the rest of the cake was cut up and given out as free samples. The public, literally and figuratively, ate it up.
Elizabeth Pokrovka of Seven Valleys won the blue ribbon and $500 on Sunday in the Incredible Angel Food Cake with her pecan pumpkin angel food cake. That contest, sponsored by the PA Egg Farmers and the Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs, drew 61 entries.
Dolly Getz of Lancaster County, won the first place blue ribbon and $500 prize on Saturday in the Homemade Chocolate Cake Contest sponsored by the Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs. She beat 70 other contestants.
Both contests were only open to first place winners of angel food cake contests and chocolate cake contests in the certified Pennsylvania’s agricultural fairs of 2017. Both contests featured tall cake with intricate designs.
As judges evaluated the cakes, members of the audience shared baking secrets.
Angel food cake judges evaluated flavor, texture, lightness, appearance, creativity, topping, icing and decoration along with smell, taste, flavoring, inside texture and lightness. Chocolate cake judges looked for flavor, texture, consistency and frosting.
The contestants had their own opinions about what makes a good cake.
“I think you have to beat the egg whites for 10 minutes to get them really stiff,” said Laura Wilson of Belle Vernon, who made a chocolate almond coconut cake.
Lucinda Donough, a Port Royal dairy farmer who won second place and $250 for her orange angel food cake, laughed when asked her secret of success.
“You need help from angels,” she laughed. “I also think you need to watch how long you beat the egg whites. You want them to have soft peaks that slightly bend over but not stiff peaks.”
Her husband of 40 years, who entered a raspberry angel food cake in the contest, said they enjoy baking together.
Deborah Martin Berkoski of Conestoga, who won fourth place and a ribbon, said she loves to compete. “You start out with an egg,” she said, “and you end up with a ribbon.”
Other winners in the angel food cake contest were Susan Funk of Northampton County, third place and $100; and Kathryn Jungo of Claysville, fifth place and a ribbon.
Chocolate cake bakers created decadent cakes this year.
Kelly McCoy of Clymer make a chocolate peanut butter blossom cake with Reeses cups for added flavor between the layers.
“I like to use the best ingredients I can,” she said. “I made two cakes for this contest. The first ones looked like hockey pucks so I brought my second cake to the Farm Show.”
Crystal Neil of Jefferson said her cake was inspired by the Girl Scout cookie Tagalongs. “I used butter, buttermilk and oil to make my cake really moist,” she said.
Jayne and Robert Wenger of Adamstown, who both were winners in the 2014 state angel food cake contest, tried their luck with chocolate cakes, she with peanut butter and he with chocolate hazelnut.
He said he and his wife compete yet also cheer each other on in the contests.
The most unusual appearing chocolate cake in the competition had blue icing. The “Let It Go” chocolate cake was inspired by the movie “Frozen,” said Beth Evanko of Warriors Mark.
“I made a dark chocolate cake with a buttercream filling and mint frosting that’s blue,” she said. “That’s who I am! I like to go against the grain.”
She said she used eggs laid by her chickens and other fresh ingredients.
Other chocolate cake winners were Jayme Kopecek of Charleroi, second place and $250; Ann Krug of Cambria County, third prize and $100; Sandy Elbrecht of Susquehanna County, fourth prize and a ribbon; and Sharon Kurtz of Lehigh County, fifth prize and a ribbon.
Getz’s winning chocolate cake recipe follows:
1 ¾ cups of all-purpose flour
2 cups of sugar
¾ cup cocoa
2 ¼ teaspoon of baking soda
½ teaspoon of baking powder
½ teaspoon of salt
1 cup of milk
½ cup of melted coconut oil
1 ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup of hot water
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare three 8-inch cake pans with non-stick baking spray and parchment paper in the bottom.
2. Put the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large mixer bowl and combine. Set aside.
3. Add the milk, oil, vanilla extract and eggs to a medium sized bowl and combine.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and beat until well combined.
5. Slowly add the hot water to the butter. Mix on low speed until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to make sure everything is well combined.
6. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
7. Remove cakes from oven and allow to cool for two to three minutes. Put on a cooling rack to finish cooling.
14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
3. cups of sweetened shredded coconut
2 to 4 tablespoons of slivered almonds, toasted
To make the coconut filling, put the shredded coconut and sweetened condensed milk in a medium bowl. Stir to combine. Set aside.
1 ¼ cups of butter
1 ¼ cups shortening
10 cups powdered sugar
1 ½ tablespoons of coconut extract
5-6 tablespoons of water or milk
1. To make the frosting, cream the butter and shortening in a large mixer bowl until well combined.
2. Add half of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
3. Add the coconut extract.
4. Slowly add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add water or milk, as needed.
6 to 8 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup of heavy whipping cream
Almond Joy candy bars (optional)
Put the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl. Microwave the heavy whipping cream until it just begins to boil. Pour it over the chocolate chips and allow to sit for two to three minutes. Whisk until smooth.
TO ASSEMBLE THE CAKE
1. Use a large serrated knife to remove the tops of the cake layers so that they’re flat.
2. Place the first cake layer on a serving plate or cardboard cake circle then pipe a dam of coconut frosting around the edge of the cake.
3. Add about half of the coconut filling inside of the dam, then spread evenly into an even layer.
4. Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of slivered almonds over the top and press into the filling.
5. Add the next cake layer, then top it with another dam of frosting, the remaining coconut filling and more slivered almonds.
6. Add the final cake layer to the top of the cake.
7. Smooth out the frosting on the top and sides of the cake.
8. Use a squeeze bottle or a spoon to drizzle the chocolate ganache around the edges of the cake, then fill in the top of the cake and smooth it with an offset spatula.
9. Allow the ganache to firm a bit, about 10 minutes, then top with remaining frosting, a little more shredded coconut, almond slivers, and Almond Joy candy bars.