Hoover baking school holds first Kids Christmas Cookie Bake Off

HOOVER – During a holiday season that, like the majority of 2020, was different for many families, a local baking school brought a dash of cheer to children through a new event.

The first Itty Bitty Bakers Kids Christmas Cookie Bake Off on Dec. 20 saw young bakers compete in three categories: Best Tasting Cookie, Most Festive Cookie and Most Unique Cookie.

The contest served as a creative outlet and safe event for the nearly 20 kids who participated.

“Many kids didn’t get to see or visit their extended families this Christmas,” Itty Bitty Bakers Founder Jessica Hamby said. “Most kids were home-bound and stir crazy before Santa arrived. This bake off gave them the chance to work on a creative project and pass the time in a fun, new and safe way. We’d love to keep this going and do it every year and make it a new tradition for them – one that got started in 2020 of all years.”

Contestant Claire Conrad, the Best Tasting Cookie winner, said she wanted to make a cookie that made her think of Christmas, so she found a recipe she liked and then tweaked it.

Conrad called her cookies “double hot chocolate peppermint marshmallow cookies.”

“I enjoyed that I got to learn more about baking and to explore some possible talents that I might have,” Conrad said. “When I learned I won the best tasting cookie, I felt accomplished and very proud to be able to bake the cookies all by myself.”

Conrad said her nervousness lessened when she began her presentation for the judges.

“When I brought my cookies to the judges, I felt nervous at first,” she said, “But once I started talking about my cookie I felt excited.”

Judges for the contest included Kids Baking Championship Season 6 contestant and Alabama native Brooklyn Kyzar, who first teamed up with Itty Bitty Bakers in early 2019 to teach a special class and answer questions about her time on the Food Network show.

Kyzar also owns a baking business called Whipped Up.

Other judges included Anna Beth Reece, Hoover Public Library children’s librarian, and former University of Alabama Crimsonette Abbey Manasco, who interned with Itty Bitty Bakers in summer 2020.

Contestants presented their cookie creations to the judges on the afternoon of Dec. 20 at Hamby’s home in the Inverness area.

Winners in the three categories each received a $25 Itty Bitty Bakers gift card.

“The kids really thought through their recipes, looking them up online and in cookbooks, and then often putting their own creative spin on them,” Hamby said. “Several parents told me the kids really took pride in their entry and worked hard doing it all on their own. Several parents also told me the kids had so much fun doing this event if they didn’t win, they loved being a part of it.”