Home of Economy-Herald cake contestant Caitlin Olson hopes to raise the bar for vegan recipes – Grand Forks Herald

EAST GRAND FORKS — Caitlin Olson describes her baking background as self-taught, but with the help of a grandmother. Her resume shows that she also learned a few things about baking while working.

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Olson honed her culinary skills while working at Amazing Grains and later Paola’s in downtown Grand Forks.

“In both capacities, baking was an experiment in problem solving. At home, we had to make do with what we had on hand. And in bakeries, we often had a problem similar to popular cooking shows, like: What are we going to do with the huge box of lemons, bunches of thyme, and leftover steel-cut oats that need to be used up soon? Olson said in a biography he sent to the Herald. “Also, I’ve been a vegan for years, so it brought another level of problem solving, like how to recreate the classics with novel ingredients.”

Olson has been chosen as one of 16 contestants in the first Home of Economy-Grand Forks Herald Pie Bake-off, an event that aims to showcase some of the best pastry chefs, and their pies, in the Greater Grand Forks region. . Olson said he plans to use vegan recipes throughout the contest, which begins Aug. 22 and ends in September.

Olson, who is sponsored by Hope Church of Grand Forks, is confident that a vegan cake can stand out in a competition that will feature traditional cakes baked by a host of experienced bakers, including some with professional experience.

“Usually if you don’t tell someone, they don’t know,” he said in an interview with the Herald. “There has been a lot of innovation in the vegan baking sphere. There’s a community you can go to to see (recipe ideas and ingredients) and see other people’s experiments and build off of them. There is still a lot of room for innovation. It’s fun, but it’s also a gamble, so I’ll stick with what I know.

“I’m pretty sure no one can tell,” she said.

He has participated in eating contests in the past, including a hot plate contest in East Grand Forks. She didn’t win, but placed in the top 3 with a vegan hot plate of summer vegetables, fried polenta and banana, with herb and spice tomato sauce. She entered the competition with low expectations, considering the “strange entry” (her words of hers) to be up against traditional Minnesota hot plates.

“I think that shows the power of creativity and quality ingredients,” he said. “I’m just interested in different eating contests. I thought the (spicy dish contest) was a lot of fun. It was interesting to see what everyone came up with and get a chance to be creative. And it’s also good for people to try things and give you feedback.”

In the bio he sent to the Herald, he promises that his cakes won’t just be “health/diet food.”

“I would love to enter your contest and show how far vegan food has come in recent years,” she said.

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