America's Best Raisin Contest

The California Raisin Marketing Board has expanded its successful third-annual America's Best Raisin Bread Contest to include more bakery products this year. The contest, open through Aug. 16, has expanded the categories of Artisan and Commercial breads to now include rolls, pastries, scones, coffee cakes and any other breakfast breads containing California raisins.

"As interest in America's Best Raisin Bread Contest grows, we decided to open up the competition to include a broader range of delicious California Raisin bakery products," says Larry Blagg, senior vice president of marketing for the California Raisin Marketing Board. "While adding the new category, we are staying true to the competition's original purpose - to recognize aspiring and working bakers for their skills and to celebrate one of nature's best baking ingredients, California Raisins."

Preliminary judging will take place in September to select nine finalists from each professional category and three finalists from each student category to participate in the final bake-off. A total of 36 finalists will receive an expenses-paid trip to the American Institute of Baking on Oct. 14-16 in Manhattan, KS, where they will bake their formulas in front of a panel of distinguished judges from both the artisan and commercial baking industries. Twelve winners will be selected based on their formulas' taste, appearance, originality and value. In addition to industry-wide recognition, winning bakers will receive a five-day California vacation with visits to the Culinary Institute of America, Yosemite National Park, and the San Joaquin Valley - the home of California raisins.

To qualify, submitted formulas should be for raisin bread and raisin bakery products currently available in the market or planned for sale in the future. Applications must be submitted along with color photos of the cut cross section and whole finished loaf and filled out in baker's percentages. Raisin breads, at a minimum, must include 50% of raisin content to dry flour weight while other raisin bakery products must include a minimum of 25% raisins to dry flour weight. California raisin content may include California natural sun-dried raisins, California golden raisins, California raisin paste and/or California raisin juice concentrate. The contest application, full set of rules and examples of past winning formulas are available online at www.LoveYourRaisins.com.