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State Fair honors blue-ribbon recipes |

State Fair honors blue-ribbon recipes

As of last Wednesday, Jan Schwartz of Franklin had already collected 13 ribbons in the food competitions at State Fair. That’s 13 ribbons out of 15 entries. And she had 10 more entries to go.


A veteran “for years” of this annual ritual, she said she doesn’t bother to test her recipes in advance.

“Ninety-five percent of what I make for the fair is first time,” she said. “I experiment for the fair.

“I’ve had some things that have gone down the garbage disposal and I didn’t even enter them.”

That’s not everyone’s MO, but it works for her.

This year, competitive home cooks like Schwartz will take home ribbons in 98 classes. Over the next few weeks, we’ll share first-place winners’ recipes from just a handful of those categories.

Today’s batch includes one of Schwartz’s first-place winners, a lemon-blueberry quick bread in the blueberry quick bread category.

The basic recipe came from one of her many cookbooks, but she adapted it (as she often does with recipes, she said) to add a sugar-lemon zest topping. The topping produces a crunchy sweet-tart crust on top of the mildly sweet bread, pocked deliciously with berries.

Every year Schwartz joins the same group of friends on the four competition days, lining up outside the newly renamed Grand Champion Hall (formerly Horticulture, Craft Culinary Pavilion) before it even opens.

“One is there at 5 in the morning sitting at the door,” Schwartz said. “She always wants to be the first one. I get there about 6 or 6:30.”

Though she looks forward to the contests every year, “I will be happy when it’s over,” she remarked.

“It’s fun, I’m exhausted, it’s expensive. You never get out of it what you put into it.”

And it’s stressful.

“I’m always afraid my stove is going to die,” she said. “My stove is 5 years old, and it’s a good one, but you never know.”

She actually went out last year and bought a second KitchenAid mixer “because if my mixer dies, I’m in big trouble.”

You can see all the winning entries in the culinary, craft and horticulture competitions in the Grand Champion Hall throughout the run of the fair. Judging results are posted at the State Fair website, wistatefair.com.

Email Nancy Stohs at nstohs@journalsentinel.com or call (414) 224-2382. Facebook: jsonline.com/food/facebook. Twitter: @NancyJStohs.

Here is Jan Schwartz’s winning blueberry bread recipe.

Blueberry Lemon Quick Bread

Recipe tested by Nancy Stohs

Makes 1 large loaf

Lemon sugar topping:

⅓ cup sugar

1 ½ teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)

Bread batter:

2 ½ cups flour

2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups fresh blueberries

1 ⅛ cups sugar

½ teaspoon grated lemon zest

2 large eggs

¼ cup (½ stick) butter

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 cup buttermilk

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Make lemon sugar topping: Thoroughly mix sugar and lemon zest in a bowl.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees for a metal pan, 335 degrees for glass. Coat bottom only of an 8 ½-by-4 ½-inch metal loaf pan or a 9-by-5-inch glass loaf pan with vegetable oil spray. (See note.)

Make batter: In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt together. Gently stir in blueberries to coat.

In a medium bowl, vigorously whisk sugar, lemon zest and eggs until thick. Slowly whisk in butter and oil until combined. In a glass measuring cup or small bowl, whisk buttermilk and vanilla. Stir into egg mixture.

Add egg mixture to flour mixture and gently combine. Batter will be a bit lumpy. Do not overmix.

Transfer mixture to prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle top with lemon sugar topping.

Bake in preheated oven until top cracks and browns slightly and center tests done. According to Schwartz, this will take about 35 minutes or so in a metal pan (but she admitted this was a guess, she just keeps testing). In the glass pan we used for testing, at the lower temperature, it took an hour and 15 minutes.

Cool slightly, then remove from pan to a rack to cool completely.

Note: Schwartz uses a deep, roughly 8 ½-by-4 ½-inch metal loaf pan. When we tested the recipe in a glass pan of the same dimensions, at 350 degrees, the batter ran over the top. The second time, we used a larger, 9-by-5-inch glass loaf pan and lowered the temperature to 335 degrees, which worked fine.

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