A spitfire of a lady, Marjorie Johnson, the Blue-Ribbon Baker you’ve seen on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Martha Stewart’s show, recently took on gluten-free baking — winning a few blue ribbons at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010 for the gluten-free goodies. This week I had the pleasure of listening to hear talk to our Twin Cities Raising our Celiac Kids group.
We had our annual meeting last night and she talked about how she got to where she is today and in particular — attempting the new challenge of gluten-free baking. Johnson admitted she loves two things, baking and talking. Both were evident — Johnson started talking and hardly took a breath for an hour. She kept us in stitches the whole time.
She started her speech by telling us how she’s always loved baking since she made her first cake at the age of 8. “It’s so fun!” Over the years she got married, got a college degree, had three children…all the while doing what she most-loved– baking. So far she has won over 2,500 ribbons — including 1,000 blue ribbons! How does she do it? With the help of three freezers in her home and the love of a good man. She shared a story about how her husband will sit down at the table and say to her “What do you got exotic for my coffee today?” and she gets her inventory from her freezers and explains what she has — like apple pie in one freezer and caramel rolls in another, and so on. She said those freezers are important not only to house her baked goods but to keep her flour from gong rancid.
Johnson’s most recent blue-ribbons were for her attempt at gluten-free baking last summer, “I had no idea what gluten-free was” …but she researched it and tried a cookie recipe she found online and she said it flopped. She had to throw it out.
Then she went after her own recipes with Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour. She made her Gluten-Free Orange Seed cracker, a ginger cookie and a banana bread. She got ribbons for all of her entries. Here’s a warning for all of you Minnesota gluten-free bakers — “I’m going to enter the gluten-free category again”. Next time she wants to really work on making her own recipes gluten-free. She said she’ll see if she has “…to use that gum or whatever that is”….
She’s so charming she actually may be the only speaker who could get by with talking to a group of celiacs and say this, “Elisabeth Hasselbeck…she has celiac…or whatever it is you have.” The audience was endeared to her genuinely fun nature and we all chuckled right along.
What does she find most challenging about gluten-free baking?
1. To make it taste good!
2. “I’m Thrifty! 1 pound of that flour cost as much as 5 pounds [of the regular flour].” She added — “Maybe you should stick to fruits and vegetables!”
She looks forward to trying to make new gluten-free recipes adapted from her Blue-Ribbon Baking cookbook!
Additional Notes: You can see her appearances on The Tonight Show or to buy her cookbook by going to blueribbonbaking.com.
Johnson does not have a gluten-free cookbook out. You would have to adapt recipes from the aforementioned cookbook.