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44 entries, 41 participants, 23 days, 14 countries, and at long last, here we are finally! Winners of the Fiesta Friday Challenge #1 have been selected and Catherine and I are ready and pleased to make the announcement.

Big thanks to all who participated. You have made it fun and exciting for everyone involved with your unbridled enthusiasm and genuine willingness to challenge yourself. In the process, you have encouraged and inspired one another to embrace yeast into your cooking repertoire.

Selecting a handful of winners from such an impressive pool of entries was not an easy task. Catherine and I looked at every entry closely and considered the following criteria in determining the winners: creativity, originality, integrity of technique and soundness of recipe. We each came up with our selections independently and it became clear immediately that we were exactly on the same page.

Without further ado, the winners of Fiesta Friday Challenge #1 are:

First Place

Kulebyaka from Mila@milkandbun. This is one astoundingly beautiful creation. A unique Russian pie that is so elegant and sophisticated we can’t believe it hasn’t gone global in popularity. This is the first time I’ve heard of its existence, despite the fact that it’s been served in Russia since the 17th Century. Thank you, Mila, for bringing this to our attention, and for showing meticulous, detailed step-by-step illustrations on how to put this outstanding and out-of-this-world pie together.

Second Place

Peach and Basil Cheese Danish from Michelle@Giraffe Can Bake. Is it possible to make Danish pastries even more delectable than they already are? In Michelle’s hands, which add cream cheese, peaches, and basil, they reach a new pinnacle. The Continental breakfast staple universally well-liked has just gotten a fresh facelift. 

Third Place
It’s a tie! Botvinia from Sue@Birgerbird and Sourdough bread from Gerard@Bread and Tortillas.

Botvinia: Russian Chilled Sorrel Soup with Salmon. A complex recipe that needs to be prepared days in advance in order for one of its ingredients, kvas, to be ready, Botvinia is beyond intriguing. Described by Sue as an unusual, tangy, and bracing soup, it sounds quite refreshing and stimulating. She did say this is a soup, and not salad, didn’t she?

Sourdough bread w/ wild mushrooms and herbs. When we first saw Gerard’s entry, before reading closely, we thought he was offering a recipe for a sourdough bread that would be served with herbed mushrooms on top. It turns out that the mushrooms are incorporated into the sourdough bread itself. How completely unique and original that is. Can you imagine a sandwich made with slices of this bread? Flavor explosion in your mouth is what’s going to happen. We just know it!

(We have decided to split the 3rd place prize between the two 3rd place winners. So each will receive 6 seed packages.)

Update: We are not splitting the seed packages. Our generous sponsor has decided to award each 3rd place winner with the whole set of seed packages. Thank you very much, generous sponsor!

Congratulations to all the winners! Please send us your postal addresses via The Novice Gardener’s contact page, so we can forward them to our sponsor.


Besides the above winners, the following are entries deserving of honorable mentions. They are:

Semolina Yeast Herb Pancakes from Suzanne@apuginthekitchen. Both Catherine and I would be happy to eat these pancakes anytime, especially with the accompanying Eggplant And Garbanzo Stew. Suzanne’s entry also demonstrates that yeast in a non-beverage recipe doesn’t always translate into kneading. For those of you still uncomfortable with the idea of yeast and kneading, this is the perfect recipe to try to start conquering that fear.

Lavender Honey Babas from Hilda@Along The Grapevine. Another no-knead entry and one of the few sweet entries and the only one that uses yeast in a cake. A clever adaptation of baba au rhum, with an infusion of lavender honey syrup instead of the usual rum, this is an easy recipe that yields such a delightful dessert. Hilda makes her little cakes so completely adorable by decorating them with foraged edible flowers.

Savory Krantz Cake from Margy@La Petite Casserole. Krantz cake is a mesmerizing bread to look at, and Margy’s savory version is not only a stunner but a surprise as well. We think her elegant savory Krantz cake is both creative and inspiring. A stunning and elegant cake with a twist!

There is also a participant who has captured the true spirit of the challenge, Mr Fitz@Cooking With Mr Fitz. What a remarkably fun and friendly entry his is, delivered in the most non-competitive way and with plenty of humor. That is the true nature of this challenge. From the get-go, we’ve been saying that this is a friendly challenge, and Mr Fitz amply demonstrates that. Well done, Mr Fitz!

“Spirit Capturer” Mr Fitz


This concludes Fiesta Friday Challenge #1. Catherine and I are not ready at this point to announce Fiesta Friday Challenge #2. There will be one; it’s still in the works. We will announce it as soon as we finalize our preparation. Again, we are seeking sponsors for prizes, and looking for ways to make this event as exciting and fun for you as possible.

We would also like to make the judging process as transparent as possible. It goes without saying that anytime judging is done by humans, in any contest, there’s always going to be a certain degree of subjectiveness. But let us reiterate once more that as judges, Catherine and I try to be as impartial as we can be.

For future challenges, however, we would like to get you, the participants, involved in the judging process. We will let you know how that can be accomplished when we’re ready to make the announcement.

Catherine and I have learned valuable lessons from this inaugural Fiesta Friday Challenge and will apply what we’ve learned to future challenges. If you have any ideas or suggestions, always feel free to let either one of us know.

This was a successful challenge and we want to congratulate our winners, honorable mentions, “spirit capturer,” and all the participants as well as the judges (Yes, that’s me and Catherine. It is okay to pat yourself on the back once in a while, isn’t it? We did work very hard organizing this event.) for a job well done. Now, let’s celebrate!