With Neligh’s Annual Bread 'N Jam Festival coming up this weekend, area bakers are donning their aprons and flouring up their rolling pins in anticipation of the festival’s baking contest.
Neligh’s Historic Mill is the perfect setting for contestants to put their favorite bread recipes to the test of the discriminating judges.
Neligh resident and frequent bread contest participant, Beth Ramold looks forward to the contest each year, and has even won a few times, claiming top honors in the sweet dough category for an apricot tea ring, sweet almond braid, French almond croissant rolls, and honey dinner rolls. No small feat, but Ramold quickly admits that even though the competition is stiff, even novice dough slingers take the top prize from time to time.
“I love looking at all the entries. People are really creative with the displays, but I find the bread itself to be most interesting. You’ll see all kinds of varieties, family recipes handed down for generations and new recipes, too, with all kinds of ingredients.”
With modern conveniences and vast choices of ready-made bread available at our fingertips, the skill and time required to create homemade baked goods almost make one wonder if bread making is becoming a lost art. There is a reason that “Mom pulling out a fresh, home-baked loaf of bread from the oven”—and the heavenly smell that accompanies it—is a treasured memory for so many of us.
Ramold herself has such memories.
“I have always liked to bake. My mom, aunts, and both grandmothers were excellent cooks. I’m no expert, it’s just enjoyable, and it can be challenging too. My mother’s sweet dough recipe is a family favorite.”
While many people enjoy adding healthful ingredients to their yeasty creations, Ramold keeps it simple and goes for pure taste, saying, “[My] type of baking is a treat—not something I’d serve every day.”
The baking contest kicks off at the Mill on Saturday at 9 a.m., but those interested in registering have only until Thursday to do so. Bakers may enter a recipe in three different categories: Yeast bread, sweet bread, and yeast dinner rolls. Kids are also invited to enter their best chocolate chip cookies on Saturday.
Though Ramold is unsure if she’ll be able to participate in the contest this year, she still looks forward to seeing what people pull from their ovens on Saturday.
“The mill has such character for this type of contest—it’s just the perfect setting for a baking contest. I also appreciate the judges and their comments. The judges are experts in culinary arts, so you can really learn how to improve your baking."
Ramold adds, “I hope people will enter for the fun of it. This year the entries will be judged equally on taste and appearance, and 25% on display. In the past, I think some are reluctant to enter because they feel like their display isn’t good enough—it’s more about the bread than the display.”
The top bakers in each category are awarded cash prizes. The first place prize winner will take home $300, second place is $200 and third place is $100.
Be sure to visit the Neligh Mill on Saturday to see for yourself what talented area bakers have cooked up this year!
*The deadline for the adult registration has been extended until Friday, Sept. 11.