The contest was still tight though between first and second place winners.

Lake Sun staffers were lured by the homey comfort of fresh-baked cinnamon rolls in the first year of the expansion of our traditional Christmas baking contest to include all baked goods instead of only cookies.

A wide array of baked goods were submitted for the contest including multiple types of cookies, but the Secret Ingredient Cinnamon Rolls from Tamra Freeman stole our hearts with a light yet moist bun. And then she blew our minds when we saw the secret ingredient for that tender dough was instant mashed potatoes! Freeman also went the extra mile to pipe decorations of holly on her rolls, and her cream cheese frosting was sweet but not overpoweringly sugary.

The contest was still tight though between first and second place winners. Apple Bread from Melba Adkins got a lot of flavor and originality points for the fresh apple finely styled across the top. The apple and nut filled loaf was moist and tasty — it’s just hard to beat a great cinnamon roll, especially one made with mashed potatoes.

Third place was a close call as well, and the third place winner was also the looker of the bunch. The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cheesecake from Stephanie Anderson looked like it could grace a magazine cover with store-bought peanut butter cups encircling a center of autumnal-colored peanut butter chocolate pieces candy. We thought the theme would be best suited for a Thanksgiving or Fall feast. The cheesecake was scrumptious, but very rich, and we could not go on without a nap after a bite or two.

That rounds out our top three for the 2018 Lake Sun Christmas Baking Contest. All of the entries were good, and it made for a tough decision. 

But don’t take our word for it. We have included the three winning recipes to try for yourself.

We want to thank all participants as well. This is a holiday tradition for us as well as the community. Staffers always enjoy the debate in selecting our favorite items, and we were still snacking on some of the cookies and cakes with coffee the morning after. 

Thank you all again and … Merry Christmas!


Secret Ingredient Cinnamon Rolls

Submitted by Tamra Freeman


•1/2 cup warm water

•2 tblsp yeast

•1 cup sugar

•1 1/2 cup warm milk

•4 eggs room temp

•1/4-1/3 cup mashed potatoes*

•2/3 cup butter or margarine softened-melted

•1 tsp salt

•9 cups bread flour


•1/2 cup butter softened

•about 2 cups brown sugar

•ground cinnamon  


•8 ounce cream cheese softened

•1/2 cup butter softened

•3 cups confectioners' sugar

•1 teaspoon vanilla extract

•1/4 teaspoon salt


1.Mash potatoes or mix instant potatoes.  *I usually just put 1/2 cup boiling water with 1/3 cup instant potato flakes

2.Scald milk and let cool. 110 degrees is ideal ( I add my butter to the warm milk to help it cool quickly and to melt the butter)

3.Dissolve yeast and 1 T. sugar in warm water. Let sit until bubbly.

4.Add butter, ¾ c. sugar, salt, milk, and mashed potatoes to mixing bowl. Gently stir until combined. Add beaten eggs and stir again.

5.Combine half of flour into mixer.

6.Switch to a dough hook and add the rest of your flour 1 cup at time until dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.

7.Do not knead for too long

8.Cover. Let dough rise until doubled. About an hour.

9.Set dough on a floured or oiled surface. Roll out about ¼"-1/2" thick. Generously spread with butter, about ½ cup. Generously sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

10.Roll up jelly roll style. Pinch seems together. Slice into rolls. (I always use dental floss to cut the rolls) you can make 18-24 rolls depending on how big you want them to be.

11.Set on two greased baking sheets or 9x13greased pans 6-8 rolls per pan. Cover. Let rolls rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

12.Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Don't over bake.

13.While rolls are baking make frosting.   Mix all ingredients together and whisk until smooth.

14.While rolls are warm, spread some frosting over the tops of the rolls. Let rest for about 10 minutes and spread more frosting over the rolls.


Apple Bread

Submitted by Melba Adkins

2 cups sugar

1 cup oil

3 eggs, beaten

3 cups flour

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. cinnamon flavor

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. vanilla

1 cup chopped nuts and extra for decoration

4 cups chopped apples and extra slices for decoration

Cinnamon powdered sugar frosting

Mix sugar, oil and eggs. Sift together flour, nutmeg, salt, cinnamon and baking soda, then add the rest of the ingredients, adding nuts and apples last. Put in two greased loaf pans and bake for 1 hour at 325 degrees F. 

Frost with just a sprinkle of powdered sugar or make a standard powdered sugar frosting. Or for cinnamon powdered sugar frosting, combine 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar with 1 tsp. cinnamon flavor and just enough water to make a drizzle over the the loaves. 

Finely slice fresh apples and arrange on top of the frosting with some additional chopped nuts.


Reese’s Peanut Butter Cheesecake

Submitted by Stephanie Anderson

For the crust:

2 cups crushed Oreos

4 T. butter

Melt butter, mix well with crushed Oreos and press into springform pan.

For the filling:

4-8 oz. block of cream cheese

1 1/3 cups sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup creamy peanut butter

2 tsp. vanilla

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 mixture of chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, chocolate chips and Reese’s Pieces (1/2 cup each)

Blend cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Add in peanut butter, heavy cream and vanilla. Beat in 1 egg at a time to combine. Stir in candy and chocolate chips. Spread onto the Oreo crust.

Fill roasting pan with water, enough to cover about halfway up the pan. Wrap pan with foil to prevent water in cake pan. Bake approximately 55 to 75 minutes. It will have a very slight jiggle when done. Cool overnight in the refrigerator. 

For the ganache: 

1/2 cup heavy cream

3/4 chocolate chips

Heat cream but do not boil. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips. Stir until smooth. Pour over the top of the cheesecake and allow to cool.

Garnish with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Reese’s Pieces and enjoy.