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Pillsbury Bake-Off compilation offers all the winning recipes




‘Pillsbury Best of the Bake-Off Cookbook’

By the editors of Pillsbury (Pillsbury/Wiley, $29.95) Reviewed by Larry Cox

Since 1949, the Pillsbury Bake-Off has attracted home cooks from throughout the country. With more than 100 finalists each year and a $1 million grand prize, it remains one of America’s most famous culinary contests.

This cookbook features more than 400 prize-winning recipes that were selected as favorites in the yearly event. From 1951′s French Silk Chocolate Pie to 2006′s Baked Chicken and Spinach Stuffing, the recipes reflect some of the country’s most innovative and creative cooking.

All of the legendary million-dollar winners are, of course, included. Some of the featured recipes have become true classics such as Ella Rita Helfrich’s Tunnel of Fudge Cake from 1966 that helped popularize the now familiar Bundt pan. The recipes are supplemented with 120 full-color photographs, profiles of the finalists, insights on what motivated winners to become better cooks, as well as special moments in Bake-Off history. There are high altitude instructions, metric conversions, cooking times and nutrition information for each recipe.

The “Pillsbury Best of the Bake-Off Cookbook” is a delight. The chapters include the Best-of-the-Best, all of the Grand Prize winners; Soups & Sandwiches; Main Dishes; Side Dishes & Salads; Appetizers & Snacks; Breads; Breakfast Favorites; Cookies & Bars; Cakes and Tortes; Pies & Tarts; and Other Desserts.

Only one recipe was tested from this collection, the 1996 Grand Prize winner, Kurt Wait’s Macadamia-Fudge Torte. Wait, a single dad from Redwood City, Calif., gave some of the credit to his 8-year-old son, Cy, whom he described as “the best tester there is because he is brutally honest about what he likes.”

Tucsonan Larry Cox’s “Shelf Life” reviews of fiction and nonfiction books and his “Treasures and Trends” antiques column run Thursdays in Calendar Plus. For more, go to tucsoncitizen.com/ calendar. E-mail: contactlarrycox@aol.com

Macadamia-Fudge Torte


1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/3 cup low-fat sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)


1 box Pillsbury Moist Supreme devil’s food cake mix

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 can (15-ounce) sliced pears in light syrup, drained

3 eggs

1/3 cup chopped macadamia nuts (or pecans)

2 teaspoons water


1 jar (17-ounce) butterscotch-caramel-fudge topping

1/3 cup milk

Serve with garnish, if desired

Vanilla ice cream, frozen yogurt or chocolate curls

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9- or 10-inch springform pan with cooking spray. In 1-quart saucepan, cook filling ingredients over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted.

In a large bowl, beat cake mix, cinnamon and oil with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds or until crumbly (mixture will be dry). In blender or food processor, place pears, cover and blend until smooth.

In a large bowl, beat 2 1/2 cups of the cake mixture, the pureed pears and eggs with electric mixer on low speed until moistened. Then beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Spread batter evenly in pan. Spoon and spread filling over batter to within a half inch of edges. Stir nuts and water into remaining cake mix mixture, sprinkle over filling.

Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until top springs back when touched lightly in center. Cool 10 minutes. Remove side of pan. Cool completely, about 90 minutes.

In a 1-quart saucepan, cook sauce ingredients over medium-low heat for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until well blended. To serve, spoon two tablespoons warm sauce onto each serving plate; top with edges of torte. Serve with ice cream; garnish with chocolate curls.

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