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Journal photo by Jennifer M. Latzke.

The simple act of taking flour, yeast, salt and water and turning out a beautiful loaf of bread can be a work of art in the kitchen. But some bakers take their bread sculpting up a notch, shaping their dough into masterpieces for display.

The Kansas Wheat Commission and the Kansas State Fair want to recognize these artists at the 2019 Kansas State Fair.

The rules for the second annual Kansas State Fair Bread Sculpture Contest are available now, according to Kansas Wheat’s Nutrition Educator Cindy Falk. Contestants must pre-enter with the Fair by Aug. 15 and pay a $1 handling fee, per exhibitor.

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Wilma Olds, of Wilson, Kansas, stands by her entry, which scored a perfect 100 points in the 2019 National Festival of Breads. (Journal photo by Jennifer M. Latzke.)

The point of the contest is to see the artistic creativity of bakers, and sculptures will be judged on artistic merits, not on taste, Falk emphasized.

“They can make them from frozen yeast dough or a yeast dough made from scratch,” Falk said. “But, they must submit a typed, detailed recipe that includes shaping instructions with either step-by-step photos or sketches.” Since the bread sculptures are made off-site and brought to the Domestic Arts Building Foods Department for display, these instructions are how judges can evaluate techniques and provide feedback to the artist.

“We judge on creativity, originality, and crisp details,” Falk said. “We’re looking at the design, and the visual impact and if there was any color used.”

To that point, props can be added, but will not be judged. And the sculpture can be baked in sections and pieced together by adhesives, wire, dowel rods, toothpicks and any other means. As long as it is structurally sound for display. Along those lines, there aren’t any size restrictions yet, but if the design is a small, individual shape, like a bunny or a pig, Falk said a sample of six sculptures should be entered.

“I was a judge at the state fair competition last year and we had an amazing amount of incredible sculptures entered,” Falk said. “Everything from a dove, turtles, pigs, and more. But the most outstanding entry was a woven bread basket made from dough, holding a colorful bouquet of flowers, which were also sculpted out of dough, made by Wilma Olds, of Wilson, Kansas.”

Olds’ entry scored a perfect 100 points. Olds brought her sculpture to the 2019 National Festival of Breads, where visitors had the opportunity to ask her questions about her technique. They also were able to see examples of other bread sculptures created by artists to get inspiration.

“Last year was the first year the Kansas Wheat Commission held the contest and I was very intrigued by that,” Olds said. She’s entered other special contests at the State Fair over the years and wanted to try her hand at this. Over the course of a month and a half, working just nights and weekends, she created her masterpiece after trial and error.

“I had to bake three baskets before I found the right shape of a bread basket and I ended up braiding the bread over an upside down roaster,” she explained. “Then I had a blacksmith help me with creating the handle out of metal so I could bake over it. Then I just got creative with different doughs, just forming different bread shapes.” She used shaved coconut, poppy seed, cake sprinkles, nuts, sunflower seeds, whole wheat kernels, food coloring and more to make her flowers and leaves.

“There are bread shaping recipes out there, but I just stood by my standby whole wheat bread,” Olds said. “I made probably over 250 pieces, before I chose the ones I wanted to go into the basket.”

Olds and Falk encourage other bakers to see how creative they can get in using Kansas wheat to make works of art. To see complete rules, visit www.kansasstatefair.com, and look under “Creative Competitions” and “Foods.” If you scroll down through the details you can print out a copy of the updated Bread Sculpture Contest rules. Local county Extension offices should also have copies available. Or download the sculpture contest rules below.

Jennifer M. Latzke can be reached at 620-227-1807 or jlatzke@hpj.com.

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