I have every Bake-Off cookbook published, including the hard to find first book. My husband and I used to drive around the state a lot, just going on adventures, and I'd insist on stopping at every antique store and book store we saw. I found the very first book from 1949 at an antique show in northern Minnesota, for the bargain price of $75.00!
If you looked through every book, you would be surprised at some of the recipes you see. For instance, for years I didn't know that some of my mother's favorite recipes, like Pecan Praline Cookies, were Pillsbury Bake-Off winners. The Bake-Off has popularized everything from bundt pans to sesame seeds.
This is just a small sampling of my variations of favorite recipes from the beginning Bake-Off years. You'll notice that, in the earlier years, sweets ruled the day. That's because the earlier contests tended to feature entree recipes like 'Thrifty Giblet Dinner' or 'Porky Cornbread', so the sweet stuff won out. Enjoy.
Favorite Pillsbury Bake-Off Recipes
- Peanut Blossoms
These are my husband's favorite cookies. I use all butter instead of shortening, reduce the flour, and add a chilling step. If you love chocolate and peanut butter, these are the cookies for you.
- Chocolate Mint Surprise Cookies
These crisp brown sugar cookies have a melted chocolate mint in the center. I glaze these cookies with chocolate, reduced the flour, added chilling time, and offer a freezer variation. The original recipe won $10,000 in the very first Bake-Off in 1949.
- Brown Sugar Meringue Bars
Also known as "Hoosier Bars", this fabulous bar cookie appeared in the first Bake-Off®. I love this recipe, and have changed it to make it my own.
- Savory Cheese Snack Bread
Before Americans knew how to pronounce 'Focaccia', this forerunner of the Italian snack bread won $1,000 at the second Pillsbury Bake-Off. My version uses different cheese, and more cheese!
- Triple Chocolate Cake
This recipe illustrates how American's tastes have changed. The original recipe, called Starlight Mint Cake, had a fairly light chocolate density, considered decadent in 1951. I've tripled the chocolate and added some shortcuts to make a fabulous cake.
- Blueberry Snack Cake
A teen-ager created this winning recipe, which is a tender, easy coffee cake perfect for a coffee klatsch. My version is even easier.
- Caramel Cream Cookies
Oh, this is the most fabulous cookie. Two tender brown sugar butter cookies are sandwiched with a brown butter frosting; the layers combine for a cookie that melts in your mouth. I changed the recipe to make them individual cookies for a better frosting-to-cookie ratio.
- Surprise Muffins
Also known as "Jam Dandy Muffins", these tender muffins with the fruity surprise center appeared in the 8th Bake-Off.
- Pecan Pralines
Hmmmm...it seems that this cookie's original name was "Pecan Paulines"! Somehow the name evolved over the years in my family. No matter, this refrigerator cookie with the candy topping is wonderful.