The fate of 48 baked goods rested in the hands of two judges Wednesday at the Cass County 4-H Fair Cookie Bake-a-Rama, said Jane Horner, health and human services educator for Purdue Extension of Cass County.
Horner said one judge was “someone who knows what she’s talking about,” Penny Troutman, retired health and human services educator. The other was a celebrity judge, Logansport State Sen. Randy Head, chosen simply because he has taste buds.
Halfway through the judging, though, Horner said she might have to move Head into the expert judge category.
“He sure seems to know what he’s doing,” Horner said.
And judging was serious work. They were looking for evenness of baking, uniformity of shape and size, an absence of air pockets, good distribution of any nuts or chocolate chips and, of course, taste.
Event helpers spent almost an hour and a half switching out plates of baked goods before the judges. Each plate held six cookies. With each new plate, Troutman would pick up a cookie and examine it with an inspector’s eye.
Though plates piled with remnants of entries already judged surrounded them, the judges remained in good spirits throughout the long process. It’s possible the sugar played a role in that, onlookers mused.
As the judging played out under the shade of the picnic pavilion at the Cass County fairgrounds, Horner would share with the audience different aspects of each entry and the judges’ reaction. Some audience members watched intently while others chose to pass the time by socializing.
Horner’s play-by-play of the action included a slew of unusual ingredients. From zucchini to instant coffee to cayenne pepper, the bakers brought their A-games and then some.
Horner credits the sheer amount and variety of selections to Pinterest and other social sharing websites.