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Baking contest returns to Potsdam Food Co-Op

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POTSDAM — The Carriage House Bakery was filled with delicious smells and eager eaters Sunday during the Potsdam Food Co-op’s annual baking contest.

People were packed shoulder-to-shoulder in the small bakery, lining up to sample the 29 dishes that had been entered, piling up platefuls of pies, cakes and cookies.

“It gets the community out, and you get to sample all of these great recipes,” said co-op board member Peter S. Brouwer, who volunteered at the event.

Each contestant made two of their entries, one to be sampled and judged, the other to be offered up in a silent auction. All of the proceeds from the auction went to the Potsdam Neighborhood Center.

“I think it’s an amazing turnout of community members to take the time to bake something,” Neighborhood Center Director Daisy J. Cox said.

The $800 raised will support seed vouchers, which allow village residents in need to start their own vegetable gardens.

The bake-off and charity auction are a tradition that has lasted 15 years.

“This is the place to be this afternoon,” according to contestant John E. Dewar, who runs Village Veggies farm.

“I’m a former doctor. I’m a vegetable farmer now,” he said.

His entry, an apple pie made with plenty of butter and cinnamon, was inspired by his wife’s favorite desserts.

“I bake my wife an apple pie every October, with apples straight out of the trees,” he said.

Although she thought everything was delicious, Russell resident Caitlin P. Hill said her favorite dish was unexpected.

“Surprisingly, it was the vegan chocolate mousse, and I’m not a vegan,” she said.

Everyone who stopped by was given the chance to vote for their favorite entries. When the event ended at 4 p.m. the results were tallied, and winners were determined for each of the four categories.

“Everything was really good. I’ve cast my vote, but my lips are sealed,” contestant Maliah M. Wright said.

Ms. Wright’s vegan triple-chocolate mousse was voted the best dish in the “special diet,” category, reserved for foods that were gluten-free, vegan, or that catered to other dietary restrictions.

The mousse also took in the most money of any dish in the silent auction, at $80.

Mr. Dewar’s cinnamon apple pie won the dessert category. Zena Turner’s ginger pear cookies were victorious in the cookie category, while Susan Gillon’s butternut rice pudding was voted the best savory dish.

The winners in each category were awarded a $25 gift card to the co-op.

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