Valley News -

By Joe Naiman

Flores, Ralls win best of division in San Diego County Fair's baked goods competition


Last updated 7/29/2019 at 2:49pm

Hemet’s Janelle Flores and Lake Elsinore’s Robin Ralls won best of division awards at the San Diego County Fair’s baked and decorated foods and candy competition.

Flores entered a Southern banana nut cake which was given best of division for the cakes division and also won first place in the division’s other than listed class. Ralls won best of division in the quick breads and pastries division for her bread which also won the other than listed, sweet class.

The best of division cake was a Southern banana nut cake.

“It’s very moist and very different,” Flores said.

The cake was a 9-inch, triple-layer cake before being cut into slices. Its primary ingredients were bananas, nuts and buttermilk. Flores flavored the cake with vanilla. Nuts were sprinkled on the frosting as well as inside the cake. The cake was not decorated.

“It’s just very moist, not too sweet and a beautiful cake,” Flores said.

Flores was born in New Orleans but raised in Chula Vista. She graduated from Castle Park High School and was a San Diego County resident for most of her life before moving to Hemet from Escondido 3 and one-half years ago. She lived briefly in the Chicago suburb of Elk Grove Village and won Chicago-area baking contests.

The Chicago-area contests had been Flores’ only competition before she began entering the San Diego County Fair in 2003.

“I enjoy going to the fair,” Flores said. “The Del Mar Fair’s a good place to show the wares.”

The San Diego County Fair, which is in Del Mar, was officially called the Del Mar Fair from 1984 to 2001.

Flores’ cakes won best of show for the baked and decorated foods and candy portion of the home and hobby exhibit in 2003, 2007, 2008 and 2010.

“My cakes pretty much win almost every year,” she said.

In 2017 Flores took first place in the chocolate class of the cakes division for her dark chocolate cake with chocolate ganache. The home and hobby exhibit also has single-day contests, and last year Flores won the Spam contest.

The cakes division had bundt, cupcake, fruitcake and pound categories as well as the other than listed class.

“I’m always surprised,” Flores said of her best of division award.

“I’m very happy that I did,” Flores said of winning best of division. “I’m very pleased.”

Flores also entered a pumpkin pecan bread, but that did not place in the fruit class of the quick breads and pastries division.

“It’s a wonderful exhibit,” Flores said. “They do a great job there.”

The theme of this year’s San Diego County Fair was “Oz-some” and commemorated the 80th anniversary of the “Wizard of Oz” movie. Ralls won her best of division award for what she called Yellow Brick Road lemon loaf.

“That was pretty impressive, so I feel pretty happy,” Ralls said.

“I have been wanting to do lemon because it’s a nice summer flavor,” Ralls said. “Since the theme was the ‘Wizard of Oz,’ I thought it would be cute to do the yellow brick lemon loaf.”

Ralls used hand-squeezed lemon juice and “lemon dust,” which is made from grated lemon peel, for her lemon loaf.

“It gives it a lot of flavor,” she said. “it’s all natural flavors. I think that’s what sets it apart.”

The other than listed, sweet class was one of six in the quick breads and pastries division; the other five were banana, coffeecake, fruit, muffins and zucchini.

“I know that quick breads is a pretty large competitive category, and I had high hopes for it,” Ralls said.

Ralls also won the best of division award for quick breads and pastries in 2017, when her cranberry orange cream cheese loaf with toasted pecans also placed first in the division’s fruit, with or without nuts class. Last year Ralls received two third-place awards, including in the other than listed category of the quick breads and pastries division for her pumpkin pecan bread with praline glaze and one honorable mention ribbon.

“I redeemed myself,” Ralls said of her best of division award after a one-year lapse.

Ralls first entered the baked and decorated foods and candy competition in 2014, when she won a best of division in the candies division for a Java chocolate chip truffle. In 2015 her carrot cake with cream cheese filling was given best of division for cakes and her lemon creme truffle received best of division for candies; that year her caramels dipped in dark chocolate won first place in the dipped candies category which is in the same division as the truffles class. Ralls did not take first place in any categories in 2016.

The yeast breads and rolls division has seven classes including the other than listed and professional categories. Ralls took first place in the cinnamon bread or rolls class for her monkey bread cinnamon roll.

“I’m pretty honored to get the first place,” Ralls said.

The monkey bread was cooked in a loaf pan. Ralls used cinnamon butter and honey sugar and topped her creation with cream cheese frosting.

Ralls had not previously entered the yeast breads and rolls division.

“The monkey bread first place took me more by surprise,” she said.

An entry in the cheese class took best of division for yeast breads and rolls as well as best of show for the baked and decorated foods and candy competition.

Ralls added second place in the truffles class of the candy division for her Emerald City mint chip truffle; Paula Beck of Fallbrook took both first place and third place in that category.

“To get a second-place ribbon I think is a pretty good placing,” Ralls said.

Ralls did not place for the “Munchkindoodles” she entered in the drop, other than listed class of the cookies division.

“My new goal is to place in the cookie division,” she said.

Ralls was raised in Vista and has lived in Lake Elsinore for the past 14 years.

“I was happy to get the results this year,” Ralls said.

Murrieta’s Carin Greenfield took third place in the zucchini, plain or with nuts class of the quick breads and pastries division. Greenfield baked zucchini bread with walnuts.


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