The first Pillsbury Bake-Off took place in New York in 1949. It was a big to-do. Eleanor Roosevelt was there. One hundred bakers from across the country baked their best creation, hoping to win the grand prize of $25,000, which, in those days, was serious cash. The winner was a gal named Theodora Smafield, from Rockford, Illinois with her No-Knead Water-Rising Twists.
We've come a long way since then, Theodora.
Fast forward 65 years to the 47th Pillsbury Bake-Off, which took place on Nov. 3, 2014 in Nashville. Again, 100 bakers from across the country vied for the prize, but the purse is 40 times larger these days. Competing for a grand prize of $1 million, contestants submitted their recipes in one of four categories: Amazing Doable Dinners, Weekend Breakfast Wows, Savory Snacks & Sides or Simply Sweet Treats. On the day of the Bake-Off, bakers were cheered on by friends, family and media as they prepared their creation, hoping that one can of refrigerated dough could win them some, well, real dough.
Between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m., the contestants stood at an oven in the Broadway Ballroom of the Omni Hotel, and got busy. The room filled with the smell of crescent rolls, Grands! Biscuits, bacon, cookies and cinnamon buns. Giant posters on the walls encouraged contestants with the words: Bake it 'til you make it.
Giant posters on the walls encouraged contestants: Bake it 'til you make it.
At the stroke of high noon, the judges closed their doors and huddled to make some big decisions. That evening at the awards ceremony, eight finalists from across every contest category were honored as 2014 Special Prize Winners:
- The Crisco is Cooking Award was given to Grilled Potato and Roasted Salsa Verde Pizza, created by Greg Pontenot from The Woodlands, TX.
- The Eagle Brand Signature Recipe Award was given to Peanut and Pretzel-Peanut Thumbprints, created by Barbara Estabrook from Rhinelander, WI.
- The GE Imagination At Work Award was given to Muffuletta Mini Pies, created by MaryJo Watkins from Scottsdale, AZ.
- The Jif Peanut Butter Award was given to Macaroon-Peanut Butter Chocolate Tartlets, created by Brenda Watts from Gaffney, SC.
- The Pillsbury Clever Twist Award was given to Spinach Dip-Stuffed Garlic Rolls, created by Marie Valdes from Brandon, FL.
- The Pillsbury Gluten Free Award was given to Herbs and Seeds Parmesan Crackers, created by Merry Graham from Newhall, CA.
- The Reynolds Baking Magic Award was given to Chocolate-Peanut Butter-Filled Pretzels, created by Elizabeth Bennet from Seattle, WA.
- The Watkins Vanilla Award was given to Very Vanilla Lemon Tarts, created by Antoinette Leal from Ridgefield, CT.
And then, with a drum roll, the four finalists were announced. Each of the following recipes won $10,000 and is in the running to win $1 million. It's up to you, the public, now. Cast your vote here and help select the 2014 winner of the Pillsbury Bake-Off. This is the first year that Pillsbury has opened voting up to the public, so take advantage of this dough-mocracy and vote!
- Cuban-Style Sandwich Pockets
- Creamy Corn-Filled Sweet Peppers
- Chocolate Doughnut Poppers
- Peanutty Pie Crust Clusters
Watch videos of how to make the finalists' recipes here, and don't forget to cast your vote!