Salty and Sweet Combo Makes the (Chocolate) Cake

1/12/2013 7:00 AM
By Anne Harnish Food and Family Features Editor

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Boredom is what propelled Kelley Madey, of Doylestown, Pa., to enter food competitions. Madey was the winner of the first-place prize in this year’s PA Preferred chocolate cake contest last Saturday, Jan. 5, at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg, taking home a blue ribbon and the $500 check.

“I used to work at a job in HR. But after my second son was born and I stayed home, I became bored. So while the boys were napping, I began cooking,” Madey said. “My mom and dad were both great cooks.”

In the 12 years since, she’s been featured on the Food Network, Good Morning America and in other food contests. She also recently started a blog,

“She’s a good writer, very creative,” said Madey’s husband, a state trooper, at the Farm Show contest.

“He’s my food critic,” Madey said of her husband. She said she sends her cakes along to the state police barracks and the other troopers tell him if they like the cake or not.

Madey used the combination of both salty and sweet flavors in her winning Caramel Buttercream and Salty Pretzel Crunch Chocolate Cake. She is adamant about using fresh, local ingredients and goes directly to farms to purchase produce whenever she can. Her favorite flour comes from Daisy Flours in Lancaster County. She used the company’s organic pastry flour for her chocolate cake. She also likes using applesauce, noting that it adds nice body and moisture to the cake without bringing in the taste of apples.

This was the first year the chocolate cake contest was sponsored by PA Preferred, which encouraged bakers to use Pennsylvania-produced flour, eggs and milk in their ingredient list, said PA Preferred Coordinator Bryan Keister.

The judges for the contest were longtime judge Chris Fickes, who also emceed; Connie Shuff, a former Hershey Cocoa Classic Cake winner from York County, Pa.; John Landis, from Vynecrest Winery in Lehigh County, Pa.; Lolly Lesher, from Lesher’s Way-Har Farms in Berks County, and Robin Hetherington, from B&R Farms in Schuylkill County, Pa.

The judges based their decisions on flavor, texture, inside and outside characteristics and frosting on the cake.

The fifth-place winner, Michelle Gardner, from New Bloomfield, Pa., said she bakes cupcakes “a lot.”

“Baking is something I like to do,” Gardner said.

The second place prize of $250 was awarded to Sharon Kurtz, Lehigh County, who is a fixture at many of the Farm Show’s food contests. RoseAnn Scheurer, from Nazareth, Pa., took third-place and $100. Susan Nunan, Danville, Pa., took the fourth place prize.

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