Archive for September 19th, 2016


Everyone Goes to the Fair

September 19, 2016


img_0553In August I had the opportunity to judge the blueberry coffee cakes at the Union Fair. I was excited to participate for several reasons. Included was the fact I was curious about the scoring criteria and the process. When I arrived with the other two judges, I was handed a score sheet attached to a clip board which included a line for each of the over 20 submissions. Of course, the best part was the chance to try each one of the yummy recipes. Many people enter each year and often enter each of the blueberry categories (one each day) including blueberry pie. For some of the categories the rules include following a recipe that is provided. But for coffee cake each cook can choose their recipe.

The score sheet is a real life rubric in action. When we were informed that the best possible score from each judge was 25 total points my thoughts immediately were hmmm… is it really necessary to have so many points for each category? Interestingly, the cooks hadn’t seen the criteria beforehand. Each entry must be accompanied by the ingredients and recipe on a 3″x5″ card. The only ingredients required are Maine wild blueberries and King Arthur flour.


Retired educator and judge Grace Bogard observes closely the blueberry coffee cake task at hand!


  • Judges will examine all entries for overall appearance before beginning to taste the coffee cake and judge for creativity of recipe, explanation of preparation and originality.
  • Judges should take time to read each recipe, including method of mixing. Coffee cake must also be judged for texture and flavor.
  • Judge consistently with the following criteria in mind.


Creativity of Recipe: 5 pts.

  • Does the coffee cake recipe demonstrate innovation?
  • Is it unique? Is it imaginative and/or fresh or novel?
  • Does it demonstrate inspiration and/or inventiveness?
  • Give points if this coffee cake successfully departs from the traditional or demonstrates a new approach

Texture: 5pts.   Appropriate for coffee cake:

  • Uniform medium to fine grain small holes uniformly distributed
  • Light, cake-like crumb slightly moist and tender

   Flavor: 5pts.  

  • Pleasingly sweet, well blended flavors
  • Maine Wild Blueberries are evident in the flavor

     Preparation: 5pts.

  • Is the preparation described as ‘coffee cake’ moist and tender with Wild Maine Blueberries?
  • Are the directions complete? Could this coffee cake be duplicated following the directions on the 4” x 6” card?
  • Obviously sanitary and premium booklet entry directions were followed.

     Overall Appearance: 5 pts.   Does the coffee cake:

  • Have even contour, with characteristic cracks on top?
  • Fresh berries will not bleed excessively, should appear as blue spots.
  • Is the product presentation sanitary, appealing, appetizing, eye catching and attractive?
  • Does it look good enough to eat?

The judges scores were added together and the three with the most total points were awarded 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. Afterwards the 3 judges made some suggestions on the score sheet for the future.

It was a fun afternoon of tasting and judging and seeing former students (who had entered the contest). The 1st place winner was very surprised since she had never entered before this year. I do hope I’m asked to return next year!

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