Berry Delightful Cornmeal Cake Wins 4-H Cook-Off

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Berry Delightful Cornmeal Cake Recipe

More than 200 contestants, the timer set for one hour, classic Southern fare on the menu. Eleven-year-old Marissa Brown didn’t even bat an eyelash.

“I’ve always loved baking and I’ve been doing it since I was about 5,” Brown laughs, “so I wasn’t really nervous.”

The fifth-grader won the 4-H Cook-off at the National Cornbread Festival earlier this year in South Pittsburg with her recipe for Berry Delightful Cornmeal Cake.

Brown’s mom gave her the recipe for this sweet, cake-like cornbread with berries, and she spent three weeks perfecting it before the contest.

“We tried a bunch of different ways to get it just right and to practice making it before the contest,” Brown says. And it’s a good thing she did.

When Brown arrived at the festival, she realized she was going to be cooking in a gas oven – she was used to her electric oven at home. The contestants had just one hour to cook the cornbread, and Brown worried her cornmeal cake wouldn’t be finished in that time in the different oven.

“It takes exactly one hour to cook when we were doing it in the Dutch oven at home, so I knew I needed to make some changes.”

She traded in the Dutch oven for a Lodge cast iron skillet so the cornbread would cook faster in the gas oven. She also had her ingredients already mixed and measured out before the contest started.

“We were allowed to have our ingredients ready to go, which was good because it takes a while to get the almond paste just right.”

Brown’s hard work and preparations paid off when she held that trophy – a golden skillet and a $500 cash prize – in her hand.

“It was really exciting,” she says. “I was glad everyone liked my recipe.”

Brown will continue to cook because she loves it, and she’ll balance that with her desired future career as a fashion designer.

“I really like baking, I’m really good at sweets like Rice Krispies Treats, cookies and brownies,” Brown says, “but I’ll probably try more stuff now.”

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