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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, August 20, 2009

Rising star in yeast bake-off
Ermolenko wins two first prizes at fair

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

ALTAMONT — Adria Ermolenko is a creative cook with winning ways. She won first place in both categories of the Bake for the Cure contest at the Altamont Fair last week.

The Guilderland native has won big-money prizes before at the fair.

“The first year was 2001,” she said. “It started as kind of a joke. The contest was Spam. I didn’t eat Spam and don’t know anybody who eats Spam.”

She went ahead, however, and concocted a recipe for turkey Spam fried wanton with ginger dipping sauce — and won.

Ermolenko has enjoyed cooking ever since she was a kid. She now had two kids of her own — a 7-year-old son and a 9-year-old daughter.

Her daughter likes to eat all kinds of things, she said, but doesn’t like to cook. Her son has shown some interest.

“I cook every day and have dinner parties,” said Ermolenko. On Monday, she had grilled swordfish for her family’s dinner. “It was on sale…and I made mayonnaise and horseradish sauce to go with it,” she said. “It was yummy.”

Ermolenko also works outside her home, managing her husband’s practice; he’s a psychiatrist.

Ermolenko’s best batter bread recipe for Chocolate Babka, which gave her a $100 prize at this year’s fair, was “so simple and delicious, it was a sure-fire winner,” said Beth Betcher, of the Blue Ribbon Group.

Her winning recipe, which came with a $150 prize, for Savory Leek and Cheese Rounds was “incredibly different and was created by her outside-the-box approach,” said Betcher.

Her recipe will be entered in a national contest where Ermolenko will complete against 51 other first-place winning recipes for a $1,000 prize.

Cynthia Spuzy of Schenectady came in second, winning $75, for her Maple Nut Rolls and Michael Petrozola of Glenville came in third, winning $50, for his Carmel Pecan Rolls.

Bake for the Cure, in its third year, is a national program at 52 state and county fairs across the United States. For each entry, the Fleischmann’s Yeast brand donates $10 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, netting about $300,000 annually for the not-for-profit group that fights breast cancer.

Ermolenko says that cooking with yeast is “not at all scary.” She went on, “The batter bread is a funny formula…You don’t have to knead it and you don’t let it rise…With a rapid-rise yeast, it never goes wrong.”

She will be demonstrating her Chocolate Babka recipe this Saturday at 8 a.m. on Channel 13. It’s her third time demonstrating on television how to make a winning recipe.

“The first couple of times, it’s a little nerve-wracking,” she said. “It’s so short, just three or four minutes. You have to be very organized.”

After the show is over, Ermolenko said, “I’ll bring it home and put it in the oven”

She concluded, “There’s nothing better than a nice freshly baked loaf of bread that you produced yourself.”

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