Wauwatosa local wins Wisconsin State Fair baking competition
Radewahn won Best Baking Contest
Baking runs in Wauwatosa resident Rebekah Radewahn's veins and now she has another ribbon to add to her box.
She won first place for her blueberry lime braid in this year's Best Baking Contest at Wisconsin State Fair. She scored a $125 cash prize, beating over 25 competitors from the Milwaukee area.
Rising to competition
Nine years ago a 13-year-old Radewahn entered her mocha cheesecake brownies into her first-ever baking contest. She couldn't believe she took second place and was instantly hooked.
The awards and accolades for Radewahn's baking prowess have been numerous. Since her first competition, she's won the Frango chocolate competition three years in a row, the Freshman's whole wheat bread competition, the Eagle Brand sweet and condensed milk competition, the Malt-O-Meal cereal competition, the Ghirardelli chocolate competition and countless others.
Each win nets Radewahn a ribbon. Each ribbon is put on display for a year and then put away in a box. The 3-foot-long box is starting to overflow with the hundreds of ribbons she's won.
For Radewahn, baking is an art of precision.
"Everything is so perfect and I'm a perfectionist," she said. "Like coming up with flavor combinations and I love trying new things and working with chocolate."
Out of all her competitions through the years, her favorite was when she baked a chocolate raspberry cake and a chocolate raspberry ganache for a theme park's 50th anniversary party in Branson, Mo. She beat out hundreds of entries.
The most nerve-racking moment during a bakery contest for Radewahn is when the judges start tasting the entries, slowly taking the losers away. As the entries get picked off one-by-one, her tension builds. She studies the facial expressions of the judges tasting her confections and notes if they share and compare with other judges.
"It's so much fun," she said. "It's an adrenaline rush and it's just a blast."
Ingredients: encouragement, passion
Radewahn got interested in cooking from her mother, who worked at her school cafeteria before deciding to become an at-home mom.
Her mother started her off cooking, but after making her own whipped cream and trying out different recipes, she knew baking was for her. She was so immersed in baking that when her siblings would play dolls with her, she'd bake up fake food for them to eat.
Radewahn was constantly making birthday cakes and Christmas cookies for her eight siblings. She said the family was usually eager to eat her confections, as long as she didn't burn them.
She was home schooled all through high school and graduated from Waukesha County Technical College with a culinary degree. She works at Andrews Hotel in Delafield and dreams of owning her own bakery.
Until then, she'll continue to compete throughout the area and may one day need to find a bigger box for all her ribbons.
Blueberry Lime Braid
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 package Fleischmann's Rapid Rise Yeast
3/4 tablespoon salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons lukewarm water
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Add honey and melted butter to beaten eggs. In a large mixer bowl, combine flour, yeast and salt. Add the water and honey mixture as well as the ginger and stir to combine all ingredients. The dough will be very sticky. This is a no-knead dough, so it is ready when all the flour is mixed in. Put dough in a greased bowl and place in a warm spot, covered, until dough is double in size, about an hour. Punch and fold dough. Allow to rise once more and punch/fold again. Place dough in the refrigerator to rest overnight.
Cream Cheese Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
Zest from 2 limes
1/3 cup sugar
Beat all ingredients together until smooth.
3 cups frozen blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup water
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and chill until ready to use.
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon coarse sparkle sugar
1 tablespoon sliced almonds
Divide dough into two even pieces. Roll each piece out into a 14 x 10-inch rectangle. Place each rectangle on a sheet of parchment. Cut 1/3 of the way, in every 1/2-inch, on both long sides of the rectangle to create fingers along the edge. Remove the first two fingers on all sides, create a flap on each end of the middle section of dough. Spread 1/2 of the cream cheese mixture down the center of the dough. Spread half of the blueberry filling down the center, only on the cream cheese mixture. Fold the flaps of dough on each end over filling, and then fold in the fingers of dough along the edges, alternating sides to create a braid. Place parchment onto a baking sheet. Repeat process with remaining dough and filling. Cover and allow to rise until doubled, about an hour. Mix together the egg and water, brush over loaves. Sprinkle with sugar and almonds. Bake to 350 degrees until golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Yields two loaves (12 servings each).
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