Coffee cake chemistry

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Upton baker wins State Fair contest with Orange Nirvana cake

By John Friedlein


  UPTON — Baking is a chemistry experiment.

Combine substances, and under specific conditions they’ll interact to create something new.

Not all of the reactions that helped make Jayne Judd Adams’ prize-winning coffee cake took place inside her oven, though. Some happened out in the community.

“It’s everybody’s baby,” said Judd Adams, winner of the Fleischmann’s Yeast Bake for the Cure contest at this year’s Kentucky State Fair. “Upton is my testing ground.”

Local florist Roger Dennis was one ingredient. Not only is he the “official taste tester,” but he also selected the edible flowers — orange baby roses — for Judd Adams’ Orange Nirvana coffee cake. The Upton Florist owner has been entrusted with other important projects, such as making floral arrangements at the Academy Awards and the Tournament of Roses Parade.

Judd Adams also receives culinary feedback from employees of West Point Bank.

“They like fair time,” she said.

In fact, branch manager Cindy Hodges inspired Judd Adams to enter the Bake for the Cure contest.

After Judd Adams won a different Fleischmann’s event a decade ago, she thought she’d never bake for another one. Since then, her friend, Hodges, was diagnosed with breast cancer and the event turned into a fundraiser to help those with that disease.

When picking the recipe, Judd Adams said she liked the “nirvana” part, as it sounded positive in the face of cancer.

Hodges, who is doing better now, tried some of the cake.

“It was wonderful,” she said.

One of the judges, a chef, liked the orange peel in the bread, Judd Adams said. The icing also had orange peel — along with orange juice — and orange marmalade dripped over the cake’s center.

Because the recipe won, it will be entered in a national competition.

Judd Adams took home two ribbons, a pink food processor and $150, which she will put toward a new oven. Her current one, which is 28 years old, may have over-browned her bread during last year’s contest.

And precision is important. “My dad always said cooking is an art and baking is a science,” said Judd Adams, who has a degree in dietetics. She learned about the chemistry of baking in an experimental foods course — the effects of changing the fat or protein content, that sort of thing.

Those who want to try something from her “lab” may get their chance during next weekend’s Upton Days, which will feature a dessert contest and auction benefiting the WHAS Crusade for Children.

“I always have to bring a Derby pie,” Judd Adams said. “They get mad if I don’t.”

John Friedlein can be

reached at (270) 505-1746 or jfriedlein@thenewsenterprise.com. His Stories from the Heartland column appears on Mondays.