FRESNO, CALIF. — The California Raisin Marketing Board is accepting applications for its fourth annual “America’s Best Raisin Bread Contest” through Aug. 1.

Preliminary judging will be made in September to choose 27 professional finalists and 9 student finalists. The finalists will receive an expenses-paid trip to the American Institute of Baking International at Manhattan, Kas., Oct. 13-15, and will bake their formulas in front of a panel of judges from both the artisan and commercial baking industries. A total of 12 winners — one from each division and category (best wholesale/commercial raisin bread, best artisan raisin bread, and best breakfast item) — will be selected.

Winning bakers will receive a five-day California vacation with visits to the Culinary Institute of America, Yosemite National Park and the San Joaquin Valley.

The C.R.M.B. this year is adding an emphasis on healthy formulas that feature 100% whole grains and/or gluten-free ingredients. For the commercial and artisan bakers, one of the three prizes in each category will be awarded to a healthy formula, the C.R.M.B. said.

To encourage the broadest possible number of applications, the contest is open to bakers and R.&D. staff of commercial baking companies, to craft bakers and retail bakery shop owners, to certified baking teachers and registered students, and to bakery technicians working in allied industries such as bakery supply wholesalers, flour milling companies, and bakery ingredients suppliers. Participants must be 18 years or older.

Formulas submitted may be for raisin bread products currently available in the market or products planned for sale in the future. Applications must be filled out in baker’s percentages, no one person may submit more than three entries, and applicants also must provide color photos of the whole finished loaf and a cut cross section.
Raisin bread, at a minimum, must include 50% of raising content to dry flour weight while other raisin bakery products must include a minimum of 25% raisins to dry flour weight.

Also new this year, the C.R.M.B. said it will contribute $25 per contest entry from any members of the Bread Bakers Guild of America in support of Team USA and its quest for gold at the 2012 Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie (World Cup of Baking) in Paris.

“The contest has always been about recognizing aspiring and working bakers for their exceptional skills, while celebrating California Raisins as one of nature’s best, most versatile baking ingredients,” said Larry Blagg, senior vice-president of marketing for the C.R.M.B. “This year, we are thrilled our contest will also help to elevate some of our country’s most talented bakers to the world stage as part of Team USA.”

Application forms and a full set of rules are available on-line at Applications may be submitted by mail to Contest Administration Office in care of Theresa Cogswell, president, 14740 West 159th Street - Suite 100, Olathe, KS, 66062.