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Pa. woman wins baking contest

January 20, 1997

By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - If she knew you were coming, Carol Gillespie would bake a cake, cookies or bread.

Gillespie, 59, of 57 Glen St., Chambersburg, has been baking since she was a young girl, and has entered dozens of baking contests since 1971.

"It's her hobby," said her husband, Sam Gillespie. "If she sees a contest she enters it."

Gillespie's original recipes have appeared in Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping and Better Homes and Gardens.

In 1995, her apple and lemon chess pie won first prize in a Better Homes and Gardens baking contest.

Last week Gillespie learned that she won another first-place award from the magazine, this time for her chocolate malt peppermint cooler.

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The recipe will appear in the May issue, according to a letter she received from the magazine's executive food editor. A check for $400 is on the way, the editor wrote.

The $1 million Pillsbury Bake-Off, the Holy Grail of amateur bakers, has eluded Gillespie. She has entered the contest seven times, sometimes sending in as many as 25 recipes for a single Pillsbury contest.

"The last one was won by some man," she said.

Gillespie calls the Pillsbury contest her version of the Olympics.

Gillespie's first baking effort was chocolate chip cookies, made when she was 10. She's been a serious baker ever since.

"When I'd come home from high school my family would be watching television and I'd be in the kitchen baking," she said.

She entered her first contest, in a local newspaper, in 1971. Displayed on her kitchen wall are 14 awards Gillespie has won from the newspaper over the years.

She has bachelor's and master's degrees in home economics, taught elementary school and later taught cooking in middle school.

Over the years, as a stay-at-home mother and a career teacher, Gillespie never strayed far from her double oven. Aside from the over, and an ample supply of baking pans, Gillespie's kitchen looks about average.

The same, she said, is true of her recipes. "There are no exotic ingredients, just what you'd find in any average kitchen," she said.

Gillespie doesn't try all of the recipes that she sends into contests.

"I don't have the time or the money to try them. I just come up with them, Sam types them up and I send them in," she said. Gillespie said she has to make sure her recipes are original and don't violate copyright laws.

Gillespie's ideas for recipes come from a library size collection of cookbooks in her basement.

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