Say Cheese! category winner, 2023

Gloria Piantek of Lafayette, Indiana developed her Cheese Lover’s Barbecue Twists recipe for a Super Bowl party that would serve lots of guests and be something they would love.  The circular twisted bread shape was an inspiration from a party Gloria attended a few years ago.  This is, without a doubt, a cheesy comfort food fantasy and perfect to be the winner of the 2023 National Festival of Breads “Say Cheese” category.  When asked about what qualifies this bread for this category, she describes that this bread is a great way to tie together flavors that everyone enjoys: cheese and barbecue!  Three types of cheese are combined in this recipe, along with sweet and smoky barbecue seasoning rub, making this the perfect party snack.

When asked specifically why she chose to add barbecue seasoning to this bread, she reports that this seasoning has many different facets and is a great way to bring everything in this bread together.  The added crunch that the smoked almonds bring to this recipe adds character, another dimension of flavor, and texture to the bread.  She says that the way this bread is shaped makes it very easy to serve at any kind of gathering, her favorites being football parties!  She also really enjoys the way this bread looks with the melted cheese dip in the center.  

Her tips for success in this recipe and baking, in general, include many equipment suggestions.  Make sure you have a large 15-inch pizza pan, parchment paper to simplify moving the bread, and a microwave to soften and melt several ingredients.  She goes on to suggest that you keep a pair of sharp kitchen shears handy and a cup to help shape the center of the bread.  Preheating the oven is also something that Gloria encourages and says is vital to efficient and precise baking.  Additionally, she says that you can prepare this bread ahead of time and freeze it so you can get other tasks done on the day of the party.  This bread warms easily and is still a great option to serve when rewarmed, so she suggests that people take advantage of this when planning their get-togethers. 

When asked about her most important rules for baking, she lists a few items.  First, she says to be sure to have the recipe handy, even if you feel that you know the recipe by heart and don’t need to reference the recipe.  Second, she encourages gathering all the ingredients and equipment before you begin baking to avoid running all over your kitchen trying to find ingredients and risking forgetting where you were in the baking process.  As a former educator, she also urges people to, when measuring, say what they are measuring out loud. This way they are watching as they measure the ingredient into the bowl, saying it out loud, and hearing it. This will help you remember where you are in the recipe if you must step away from it for a moment. 

Gloria’s parting words to novice bakers is to just go for it and try new things! She says, “You don’t want to make this bread perfect. You want to make it the way you and your family and friends will enjoy it!” 

She urges people to have fun with baking and make things that they enjoy, but also don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Gloria stated, “I’m sure that you think you would never be able to make this, but you could!”


Written by Jenna Fiscus, communications intern