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Manlius: Contest Finalist tempts taste buds

In less than three months, Vicki Feldman of Manlius will head to Dallas and compete in a national bake-off sponsored by Pillsbury. Her entry placed her as one of the top 100 finalists, and this is the first time she's ever entered the contest.

"I did it on a whim and never in a million years expected to get that phone call!" she said.

Feldman was in the process of whipping up a similar recipe but wasn't happy with the outer wrap she originally used. It was then she spotted the bake-off call for entries in the daily Post Standard, which drove her to the Pillsbury web site.

"When I looked at the categories and eligible Pillsbury products, the crescent rolls jumped out at me as the outer wrap that I had been looking for," Feldman said.

Her recipe, a choco-peanut butter-banana breakfast strudel, is being judged in one of five categories and must be an original creation.

"I don't really have a background in cooking or baking," Feldman said, adding that her skills are pretty much self-taught.

A graphic designer by trade, she said baking first became "therapeutic" for her; she found it relaxing. "After awhile, desserts became another creative outlet," she said.

Magazines such as Bon Appetit and Chocolatier serve as inspiration, as well as web sites like Cake Central and Epicurious.

On April 14, Feldman will have five hours to bake her strudel up to three times in a large room set up with 100 mini kitchens. The awards ceremony will take place the following morning at 7:30 a.m.

There will be one winner selected from each of the five categories, and one grand prize winner selected from those five.

Why choose Feldman's?

"Mine deserves to win based on its simplicity, ease of preparation and the unusual combination of flavors and textures that gives it the 'sinful' taste," she said.

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