State Fair features its own "cake bosses"

By Matt Porter |

Published 08/13 2014 09:46PM

Updated 08/14 2014 10:17AM

SPRINGFIELD -- The State Fair is the Super Bowl for many Illinois competitors. It includes the Masters of the Kitchen who face off in culinary competitions this week. A spinning mixer in one hand and a bag of sugar in the other, Cindy Bohl has baking in her blood.

"It just, I don't know, it just makes me feel good to make something that makes my family and my friends happy,” Bohl said.

The Glenarm grandmother got her start in a high school summer class because her mom didn't want her sitting around all summer.

"I made my first loaf of bread and my first pecan pie, and my family went crazy,” Bohl said. “I was hooked, with pies especially."

Now, competing in the State Fair, it's an addiction.

"Once you get that Blue Ribbon, it becomes obsessive,” she said. “You want to do it again and again."

Contestants in the Blue Ribbon Culinary Contest have to face an additional challenge of cooking their cakes on stage in front of a live audience. Judges meet in private to go over every goodie.

"There are a variety of things we look for. One of them is appearance. It needs to look nice,” said baking judge Linda Denk. "Then we look at the flavor, the texture, is it baked correctly? What's involved with the recipe and so forth."

Bohl said competing onstage can inspire other culinary crafters.

"It is fun to challenge other people. A gentleman in the audience said to me, 'I'm going to try this cake,' so that made me feel good."

When the crumbs settled, Bohl found herself cream of the crop. Her pumpkin frosted chocolate cake took first in Wednesday’s competition.

She moves to the grand champion stage where she will bake-off against the best on Saturday in the Hobbies, Arts and Crafts building beginning at 9 am.

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