Harlan County woman aiming for Greatest Baker

Published 9:50 am Thursday, November 30, 2023

One of Harlan County’s own is aiming for the title of Greatest Baker, competing in a contest featuring television’s “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro and a $10,000 prize.

According to the Greatest Baker website, the winner will take home the title of Greatest Baker, have their work featured in Bake From Scratch magazine, and receive a cash prize of $10,000.

Ashley Hawkins of Harlan talked about her reasons for entering the competition in a recent phone interview.

“It’s an online contest,” Hawkins said. “To enter, they had to go through and look at pictures (of the baked goods) to see if you qualify for the competition. They selected me to be in the competition.”

Hawkins explained the contest is nationwide.

“Since I’ve already made it into the first round, there’s a link to the web page that you can share,” Hawkins said. “Your friends and family can go in and see your profile, then go in and vote for you there.”

The first cut in the competition will be on Thursday, Dec.7.

“My favorite thing to bake is my blueberry bundt cake with cream cheese icing,” Hawkins said. “All my family tried it and really liked it, so it’s kind of become my signature cake for the last two years.”

Hawkins noted she has only been baking for a little more than two years. However, her family is full of great cooks from whom she has been able to learn.

“The Hawkins side of my family have been big cooks and bakers my whole life,” Hawkins said. “I grew up eating wonderful food. My mother also cooks wonderfully. I never really had an interest in it until recently. I set back and watched how they did it, and I adapted some things from my mother, some from my grandmother and aunts, and I guess the Lord just sparked an interest in baking for me and it’s led me here.”

Hawkins has plans for the $10,000 should she win the title.

“I started baking as a way to help me relieve stress,” Hawkins said. “I started it as just a small hobby, and absolutely fell in love with baking. I may not make the fanciest decorative cakes, but I’m just now getting started and have a lot of room to grow.”

Hawkins said she greatly enjoys watching people enjoy the items she has baked.

“Baking is something I love sharing with people,” Hawkins said. “The money would help me share that on a larger scale by helping me continue to perfect my baked goods.”

Hawkins mentioned she may one day open a bakery in Harlan. She also shared some information about herself.

“I’m a Christian, I’m 24 years old, and I’ve lived in the city of Harlan most of my life, all of my family is from here,” Hawkins said. “I went to nursing school, and recently passed my boards so I’m a registered nurse. In a nutshell, I love my family, I love God and I love to bake.”

For more information on the contest and to vote, go to greatestbaker.com.