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Baker of the year

click to enlarge KATHRYN EASTBURN

Ten-year-old Hunter Hubbs of Colorado Springs will be taking off for New York City in a few weeks. He is one of five kids, narrowed down from hundreds, who will compete in Hasbro's Easy-Bake "Baker of the Year 2003" finals. His entry? Banana Split Cake, an Easy-Bake yellow cake enriched with fruit cocktail juice, adorned with a split banana and three scoops of ice cream, drizzled with strawberry syrup, pecans, whipped cream, a cherry and "the artificial flavor called pineapple."

But Hubbs is nonplused at the prospect of the competition and the trip to the Big Apple. He's a pro with five years experience, tutored in the winning ways of cooking-contest entry by his grandmother, Mary. Grandma's won cooking contests ranging from the Heavenly Ham national competition where she entered her Club Burrito, to the "My Grandchild and I" contest sponsored by Oregon fruit. The duo's entry there was a blackberry cream cheese cake.

At age five, Hunter won the Grand Prize for his Rocky Road Dessert Pizza in the Southern Living/Piggly Wiggly "I can do it myself" contest. The recipe called for chopped pecans, Reese's Pieces, pizza dough and marshmallows.

"I would've ate it but I didn't like peanut butter," said Hunter.

"He cooked it all by himself in the Southern Living headquarters kitchen in Birmingham, Alabama," said a very proud Mary.

If Hunter wins the Easy-Bake contest, to be held at New York's Four Seasons Hotel, he'll come home with a $5,000 savings bond, become the namesake of a dish created by the Four Seasons' executive chef for the children's menu and receive a two-year supply of Easy-Bake brand bake sets.

That's a good thing, says Grandma. "Those little cake mixes are expensive."

-- Story and photo by Kathryn Eastburn

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