48th Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest winner shares her food story


Special recipes often come from favorite food memories. The 48th Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest winner shared her food story with FoodSided.

One of the most coveted cooking competitions is the Pillsbury Bake-Off. Every year home cooks compete for the title of Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest winner. This year, four women made the finals, but only one was the ultimate champion. Amy Nelson won the 48th Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest with her Bejeweled Cranberry-Orange Rolls.

Nelson’s winning recipe won over the judges not just with its delicious flavor but also with its touching recipe inspiration. When food comes from the heart, those bites are even more flavorful. Nelson’s recipe was the perfect blend of family food memories with an easy, modern twist.

Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with Amy Nelson, the 48th 48th Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest winner. Below are some thoughts and recollections from that conversation.

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Ms. Nelson was a first time finalist in this recipe contest. I asked her what pushed her to enter this year’s contest. Her answer was quite straightforward. The kitchen makeover grand prize was a huge motivator. As an avid home cook, the kitchen makeover grand prize can make a huge difference in a home.

Her contest entry was more than just creating a recipe using a Pillsbury product. The contest had to include a family memory inspiration behind that recipe. For her recipe, the Bejeweled Cranberry-Orange Rolls were a flavor mash-up based on one of her mom’s old-school recipe. That cherished family recipe (a cranberry salad) was served during the holidays. This recipe contest allowed her to create an easy, everyday recipe that combined similar flavors.

48th Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest winner, photo provided by Pillsbury

The winning recipe, Bejeweled Cranberry-Orange Rolls, is a great way to start the morning. The tart cranberries pair well with the bright orange. With a sweetness from the icing and the spice from the ginger beer, this breakfast recipe starts the day with a big punch of layered flavors.

Here’s how to make the winning recipe.

"Bejeweled Cranberry-Orange RollsIngredients1 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) cranberries1/2 cup crushed pineapple, undrained (from 8-oz can)1/2 cup strong ginger beer or ginger ale2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate1/4 teaspoon ground ginger1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts1 can (13.9 oz) Pillsbury™ Cinnabon™ refrigerated orange rolls with orange icingDirectionsHeat oven to 400°F. Line large cookie sheet with cooking parchment paper.In 2-quart saucepan, cook cranberries, pineapple, ginger beer, orange juice concentrate and ginger over medium-high heat 10 to 14 minutes, stirring frequently, until liquid is absorbed and mixture is very thick. Remove from heat; cool 20 minutes.Meanwhile, in 10-inch skillet, toast walnuts over medium heat 4 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently, until golden brown. Remove from heat.Open can of dough; do not separate rolls. Set icing aside.Carefully unroll dough onto cutting board, being careful not to separate. Spread cooled cranberry mixture evenly on dough; sprinkle with walnuts. Carefully reroll dough. With serrated knife, cut each roll at perforations, wiping blade of knife after each for clean cuts. Place rolls about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet, reshaping rolls if necessary.Bake 9 to 13 minutes or until golden brown. Spread icing evenly over warm rolls."

While Nelson was inspired by her mother’s recipe to create the Bejeweled Cranberry-Orange Rolls, fresh, seasonal ingredients often inspire her day to day cooking. At her home, she is fortunate to grow many fresh fruits and vegetables. Often these seasonal ingredients influence her creativity in the kitchen.

Pillsbury Bake-Off contestants Amy Nelson with the Pillsbury Doughboy, as seen on The Kitchen, Season 16.

Just as she was inspired by her mom, she inspires her son to cook, too. Her son helped her to perfect this award winning recipe. Over time, he has become quite a cook. From simple recipes to experimenting in the kitchen, cooking with her son give her as much joy as it does her.

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Nelson has found that products, like the Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, help to give her son a sense of accomplishment in the kitchen. By following the directions, he can create a dish from beginning to end. The young cook is proud of his creation and is inspired to cook more often.

As an avid cookbook reader, Nelson and her family are eager to continue cooking, especially in their soon to be made over kitchen. From using farm fresh local ingredients to adding easy to use Pillsbury products, they are ready and willing to continue to make food memories. A special occasion isn’t  the only reason to bring out family favorites. Any day can be made special by cooking from the heart.

Nelson encourages anyone to enter the next Pillsbury Bake-Off contest. She suggests that no one should put it off, rather get up the courage to enter the contest. Just remember to be true, authentic and cook from their heart. Whether the recipe is a traditional family dish or a new take on an old favorite, a meaningful dish will always be a satisfying one.

Could you be the next Pillsbury Bake-Off contest winner? Don’t miss your opportunity to enter the contest next year.