RIDGEFIELD, Conn. – For the past seven years, Ridgefield resident Antoinette Leal has been competing in recipe and cooking contests around the country. This year, she has a chance to compete in the granddaddy of them all – the Pillsbury Bake-Off.
In the past, Pillsbury has just selected the Top 100 finalists to compete in its annual bake-off. But this year, it has opened up the voting on semifinalists to the country. Leal is one of the 60 semifinalists who people can vote on in the “Quick Rise and Shine Breakfast” category.
“I was in it last year. I was in the brunch category as well with a white chocolate and apple cinnamon roll bread pudding,” she said.
Leal wanted to do something more traditional this year. After some trial and error, she came up with the Cherry Almond Brunch Tart.
“This year, Pillsbury really wants you to simplify,” Leal said. “And this year, they scaled it down to seven ingredients or less.”
Although Pillsbury’s Bake-Off has historically been one of the most prestigious recipe and cooking contests out there, Leal says she does four to five such contests each year.
“It really depends on everything from the sponsor prize to if the ingredient actually inspires me,” Leal said. With Pillsbury it’s more about narrowing the list of sponsored ingredients and choosing the Pillsbury ingredient.
She spends around a month testing the recipe until “as much as they love it, they get recipe fatigue,” Leal said of her tasters.
Voting in all of the categories in the Pillsbury Bake-Off ends Friday, Sept. 27, at noon. To vote for Leal, visit the Pillsbury Bake-Off site here.