California Raisin Bread Contest 2011

by Joanne on October 16, 2011

Another year of nervous anticipation, friendly conversation, and ultimate excitement.   The California Raisin Bread Contest.  I would encourage anyone who loves baking and wants to promote their own unique recipe to others to keep your eyes open for this contest in 2012.  You won’t meet a friendlier, helpful, and all over nicer group of people than at this event.  The judges offer positive comments and tips, never making you believe you don’t have a chance of being one of the final twelve winners.  The contestants themselves are a warm, social, and uninhibited bunch.  I can’t express how much I enjoy this contest. 

It begins on a Thursday evening in October when you enjoy a wonderful dinner and meet fellow contestants and judges.  It was unfortunate that due to delays in Chicago, Ted and I missed the Thursday night introductions. 

Friday is a full day of speeches, meet and greet, and introduction to the American Institute of Baking facility.  At approximately 3 pm in the afternoon, contestants have about three hours to begin their bread preparation if needed.  If not, sit back and prepare yourself mentally for the big day on Saturday.

Saturday’s bread baking begins at 6AM sharp.  We are divided into three groups of 13 where you are allowed one hour at your mixer and then you must move to a bench for makeup. 


You will then be told your time for one of the many ovens available for baking bread.  This is all choreographed perfectly by the AIB Pilot Plant Manager, Jeff Zeak. Once your bread is baked and cooled, you prep it for a photo shoot.  You can’t even imagine how GORGEOUS the photographer Kelly will make that loaf look.  WOW!




Don’t forget to sign up for your time with the judges.  It’s during this time you SELL your idea and your bread.  Have fun with this.  The judges are kind and no one exits either of the judging rooms crying.


After judging, relax and take some photos of ….yourself…


*I think Ted had his mouth full of bread.  I’m just happy because everything went smoothly.

Take some photos of the friends you made…



Take photos of all the delicious results of the day.






At 7pm we all go to the train station for the awards banquet, bread sampling and more fun.


We check out the extensive display of all the breads (bags ready for grabbing what ever you can pack in your luggage – whoops! Did WE do that?!  shhhhhh).


Remember, if you made it to Kansas, you are ALREADY a winner.  We all get ribbons but then, everyone holds their breath, pregnant with anticipation (not just Rachel), and hoping it was our own bread that won favor with the judges.  

What do you know! It WAS!


Put on your most happy, happy, stupid smile (because you just can’t believe it), and get your photo taken with all the other finalists and winners.



The best group of people you could wish to spend a busy, baking raisin bread weekend with.

I encourage all you bakers out there, be creative with the use of California raisins, perfect your recipe and be prepared to submit it when the call for submission rolls around in 2012.  It will be the best time you’ve ever had baking bread.

Thanks to all the folks involved in putting on this one and only bread baking contest in the US. 

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  • At 2011.10.16 20:51, Pam said:

    CONGRATULATIONS JOANNE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I’m am so proud of you and happy for you 🙂 Wonderful news!!
    Your marathon bread looks so delicious, will you have some made for Christmas so I can try it?
    Great job this weekend!! Love, Pam

    • At 2011.10.17 11:50, Joanne said:

      Thanks Pam. You bet there will be plenty of samples around. I’ll have to make them festive looking for the season. Yet another challenge to my creativity. Love it!

      • At 2011.10.16 22:29, Karen said:

        Congratulations! That’s awesome. So glad you enjoyed your trip to my home state!

        • At 2011.10.17 11:51, Joanne said:

          Thanks Karen. It was fun last year and just as fun this year.

          • At 2011.10.17 08:02, Ali @ Peaches and Football said:

            Wow!! That is super super cool. Congratulations!!!

            What an amazing experience to begin with and then to top it off with a win and a fancy plaque! Totally awesome!

            I bet the place smelled amazing too and to get to try all those yummy breads – fantastic!!

            • At 2011.10.17 11:51, Joanne said:

              You’re so right. The AIB when the bread contest is going on is no place for a low carb dieter.

              • At 2011.10.17 12:20, Nancy Jean said:

                Oh, Joanne, SUCH TERRIFIC NEWS – – CONGRATULATIONS! We’re so proud of you, and great to hear above all you enjoyed yourselves so much. To have the award on top of that is spectacular. You could practically smell the delicious aromas from the photos, awesome shots.
                Wishing you a smooth trip home (too bad you had to miss Thursday “get acquainted” night) – – you’re probably so high still you could just float home on your own! xo

                • At 2011.10.17 20:37, Joanne said:

                  Thanks Nancy. We did have a great trip home. It was a little windy causing Ted some grief but not bad in the end.

                  • At 2011.10.17 12:20, Heather said:

                    OMG, congratulations! That is so cool!
                    I would be in heaven at a contest like this. Bread is my #1 food love. 🙂

                    • At 2011.10.17 20:38, Joanne said:

                      I’m a bread lover as well. Boo to low carb diets!

                      • At 2011.10.17 13:31, Peggy said:

                        Oh my, I am so impressed! And so proud for you. Congratulations. That all just looks so exciting.

                        • At 2011.10.17 20:38, Joanne said:

                          Thanks Peggy. It was exciting.

                          • At 2011.10.17 16:49, Lori said:

                            SQUEEEE!!! Congratulations!!

                            So now that you have hit the big time, what’s next? Will your bread get marketed for something?

                            • At 2011.10.17 20:39, Joanne said:

                              🙂 We go to California in the early Spring of next year and tour “raisin country”. Can’t wait!

                              • At 2011.10.17 18:32, Patrick @ Appetite for Good said:

                                wow this is awesome. i love all the bread! congrats!

                                • At 2011.10.17 20:40, Joanne said:

                                  I love all the bread as well – that’s what got me there. But you can’t imagine how good the bread is that everyone makes.

                                  • At 2011.10.17 20:34, Sam said:

                                    Joanne, that is soooo cool, People I work with want the recipe. Ted looks good in a Sam

                                    • At 2011.10.17 20:41, Joanne said:

                                      🙂 Ted thought he looked good as well 😉
                                      I’ll have to give give your work team a sample.

                                      • At 2011.10.17 21:15, claudia @whats cookin italian cuisine said:

                                        Congrats what an accomplishment and you look like a kid… amazing!

                                        • At 2011.10.18 00:49, Randall D'Agostino said:

                                          I had so much fun with all of you in Kansas that I wish the application for next year was already on the site. You and Ted are great people and I know the world is waiting for your Marathon Mini Loaf. You deserved that award and the world should taste why. 🙂 Great Healthy Bread! Randy

                                          • At 2011.10.18 07:29, Rosie Bank said:

                                            Congratulations Joanne. I enjoyed reading your post. And trust me, I wanted to taste every bread that is out there in this post.

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                                            • At 2011.10.18 20:01, Christin said:

                                              Congratulations! I enjoyed reading your post. The pictures of the breads are so wonderful, I was almost drooling (and I’m not even a big fan of raisin bread!)
                                              Sounds like such a fun thing to do. Traveling is always so much more memorable and meaningful whwn there is a purpose involved.

                                              • At 2011.10.19 12:50, Sandi said:

                                                How fun! AND friends 🙂 Congratulations on a job well done!

                                                • At 2011.10.19 16:24, Bonnie said:

                                                  CONGRATULATIONS!! Loved the post regarding your win – fabulous pictures too.
                                                  California raisin country – thinking you will find some fine wines along the way too.
                                                  SOOOO proud and thrilled for you!

                                                  • At 2011.10.19 21:13, Bela said:

                                                    OMG how exciting, congrats!

                                                    • At 2011.10.19 23:27, Tina@GottaRunNow said:

                                                      The food looks so good! Congrats! How exciting!

                                                      • At 2011.10.20 19:22, Laci said:

                                                        Compliments! I enjoyed reading your posting. The photos from the breads are really wonderful, I was almost starving. Appears like this type of fun action to take. Traveling is obviously so much more memorable and meaningful when there is an objective involved.

                                                        • At 2011.10.26 21:44, a888205 said:

                                                          888205 beers on the wall. sck was here

                                                          • At 2011.11.03 19:33, Debi said:

                                                            My daughter is running the Philly Marathon also in two weeks. Is your 26.2 mini loaf recipe available?

                                                            • At 2011.12.02 07:21, Deane Cirioni said:

                                                              Awesome, I didn’t realise that you’d covered this topic. It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for so thank you 🙂

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