Wednesday Winner: (Grand National) Bake-Off # 12: Dilly Casserole Bread

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Mrs. Leona Schnuelle is the only Pillsbury Bake-Off Grand Prize winner who was presented her winning check for $25,000 by the then Treasurer of the United States, Ivy Baker Priest,  seen here with Mrs. Schnuelle and host Art Linkletter.  Since this contest was held in Washington, D.C., it made sense to have the official signer of our nation’s currency hand over the check! 
It may have taken Leona nine attempts before she finally made it into the Bake-Off, but she was by no means a newbie in the contest world.  Leona had previously won $500 for judging cattle, a vacation to Florida, furniture, and an assortment of appliances.  Leona, a Nebraska farmer’s wife, experimented with an old family recipe until she perfected her “Dilly Casserole Bread.”  After eight hours of sampling, the judges of this contest thought dilly bread would be “an ideal bread to serve at barbecues and luncheons,” and liked that it required no kneading and was baked in a casserole dish.  As one judge remarked, “Any dish with casserole in the title these days is a shoo-in.”  Ah, yes, we are still in the early ’60’s!
This beautiful bread is what is called a batter bread.  Unlike quick breads, this one relies on yeast for leavening, yet it is not kneaded like most yeast breads.  The dough is beaten in a mixer and baked in a casserole dish.  The secret ingredient is the cottage cheese.  It adds a delightful tang and makes a unique soft crumb to the dough.  It’s airy, fragrant, and absolutely fabulous.  I can almost taste it now. 
I have a heartfelt connection to this bread.  It was one of my grandmother’s all time favorite bread recipes,   and I can still see her making it.  In later years she lived with me, my husband, and two daughters, and continued to make the bread.  Somewhere along the way, she hand-wrote the recipe, below, and loved it so much, she figured out how to double and triple it!  Grandma loved cottage cheese and would have it almost every morning, but she always set some aside so she could make her dilly bread.  There isn’t a time when I make this bread that I don’t expect Grandma to poke her head around the kitchen door and say, “Do I smell dilly bread baking?!”  I still miss my Grandma so much, but I know she’s always with me when I make this bread.
Leona’s incredible bread was selected for Pillsbury’s Hall of Fame.  Aptly enough, the first ten recipes selected for the Hall of Fame were invited to Washington, D.C, the city where Leona won, for the induction ceremony.  Leona’s daughter, Phyllis Engelman of Janson, Nebraska accepted the honor on behalf of her mother.  I’m sure the family knows how Leona’s bread still graces many tables all over the country.  I tracked down a sweet story about Leona.  Back in 1961, some of the previous winners were invited to tour the Pillsbury kitchens.  After the tour, Leona sent her tour guide a thank you note along with a handkerchief trimmed in lace.  A gracious and kind gesture from a wonderful home cook. 
There was only one man in this Bake-Off contest, U.S Navy Chief Petty Officer Ramon Cabalona, who was the chief steward aboard the submarine U.S.S. Catfish.  He won a $1,000 for his orange cream pie topped with a meringue- called, of course, “Sub-Meringue Pie.”  It was also rumored that Ramon had the neatest and cleanest work area at the Bake-Off, no doubt because of his experience in a submarine galley kitchen!
Here are the other prize winners of this Bake-Off:
-Senior Best of Class winner “Sweet Surprise Rolls” by Mrs. John LaGrand Solomon of Long Beach, California
-Senior Third Prize winner “Clover Cheese Rolls” by Hazel Westbrook of Tiburon, California
-Junior Second Prize winner “Pick-Up-Sticks” by Marilyn Fletcher of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
-Junior First Prize winner “Polynesian Tuna Bake” by Karan Sprengle of Pomona, California
-Second Grand Prize winner “Chocolate Macaroon Cake” by Frances Roek of East Detroit, Michigan
-Senior Best of Class winner “Toasted Butter Pecan Cake” by Bertha Campbell of San Benito, Texas
-Junior Third Prize winner “Peanut Buttercups” by Lillian Kroupa of Cedar, Michigan
-Senior Second Prize winner “Bake-Off Date Torte” by Lillian Schlueter of St. Louis, Missouri
-Senior Best of Class winner “Checker Bars” by Geraldine Goleman of San Antonio, Texas
-Senior First Prize winner “Angel Cheese Cake Pie” by Vera Massie of Springfield, Ohio
-Senior Best of Class winner “Sub-Meringue Pie” by Ramon Cabalona of San Francisco, California
To read more about the Pillsbury Bake-Off go to:
To get the recipe for Dilly Casserole Bread go to:

To read my blogs from previous Bake-Off contests go to:
Bake-Off #1:  

Bake-Off #2:
Bake-Off #3:
Bake-Off #4:
Bake-Off #5:
Bake-Off #6:
Bake-Off #7:
Bake-Off #8:
Bake-Off #9:
Bake-Off #10:
Bake-Off #11:   

Bake-Off food photos are taken by my daughter, Kristina Vanni.  To read her blog go to:


23 Responses to Wednesday Winner: (Grand National) Bake-Off # 12: Dilly Casserole Bread

  1. August 3, 2011 at 6:19 am #

    Dilly bread has been one of my favorites for many, many years. I got the recipe from a friend, but I had no idea about the bread’s origins. I always learn something new and interesting from your blogs. Thanks!

  2. August 3, 2011 at 6:35 am #

    Thank you, MsZin! Dilly bread is way up on my list of all-time favorite Bake-Off recipes. Wish I had some right this minute.

  3. August 3, 2011 at 8:19 am #

    Debbie, I love this series about the Pillsbury winners – your posts are always informative and fun to read. I make this bread too – it is great! Lisa S

  4. August 3, 2011 at 8:59 am #

    I was nice to read about the origin of this recipe. My Nana made it frequently when I was growing up. I’m not surprised that this was a Pillsbury winner!

  5. August 3, 2011 at 10:17 am #

    Thanks, Lisa! I’m so happy you like the Bake-Off blogs, as I enjoy writing about them. I think everyone loves the dilly bread!

  6. August 3, 2011 at 10:33 am #

    Angela, I think a lot of us had grandmothers and mothers who made this bread. It’s wonderful how it continues to be so popular, and I bet Pillsbury is glad, too!

  7. March 20, 2013 at 11:28 am #

    I love your story of cookbooks, I looked at the picture and found I have a lot of the same books. My family can’t understand why I have so many and I’m still printing receipes from the internet…Your story made me feel great..thank you, I can’t wait to try the Dilly Bread.

  8. April 16, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

    I found this recipe in the Newspaper in OH back in the 70’s and it sounded so easy.
    I tried it and we love it! It makes the house smell sooo good while it is baking, and when you slice it and toast it the house has that same delicious smell again!

    • April 28, 2014 at 5:31 am #

      Pat, I completely agree! I never tire of this delicious bread. The aroma is definitely intoxicating!

  9. May 17, 2017 at 6:30 pm #

    This isn’t about your family recipe but a search for my grandmother led me here! She is Vera Massie listed for Angel Cream Cheese Pie. I was given up at birth and her son, my dad, I only had for 10 months. He passed in December. But he couldn’t talk or write. I wondered if you had her recipe in the book or way for me to get. Quick googling isn’t bringing it up. Side note, my dad loved apple peach pie. Sure she made it for him. Thank you!

    • June 4, 2017 at 10:22 pm #

      Hi Teresa- I am so touched by your comment which I only just found. It had gone into the spam file. However, as you probably already know, your cousin Donna wrote me of your story and her comment did come through and I wrote back to her. I have the copy of your grandmother’s Bake-Off recipe which I will be emailing to both you and Donna so look for it soon! I wish I had a copy of the entire #12 Bake-Off book for you, but if I ever come across one I will mail it to you right away. That particular Bake-Off book is more difficult to find than some of the others.

  10. May 25, 2017 at 3:18 pm #

    I just thought you should know that your blog has made a very special connection for a cousin of mine. Teresa was adopted into our family 50 years ago, and she has learned (after many years of wondering) who her biological parents were. DNA has helped confirm who her father was, and through your website, she found a bake-off recipe from Vera Massie of Springfield, Ohio, her biological grandmother, whom she’ll never know. Your link set Teresa on a quest to get the original cookbook where Vera won $3,000 for her “Angel Cheese Cake Pie”. If not for your site, Teresa would have never made the connection. God bless you!

    • May 25, 2017 at 4:51 pm #

      Donna, you are so kind to write. You brought tears to my eyes. I am going to check my Bake-Off books and find Vera’s recipe. I have extras of many of the Bake-Off books and I will gladly mail Teresa a copy. I’ll get back to you after I find it.

  11. June 5, 2017 at 11:53 am #

    Debbie, you are so kind to email us copies of that page! Teresa’s journey to learn more about her birth parents has been quite an adventure. That she could find a link to this special recipe was a big plus! What you do for others in the posting of your blog, in this case, went beyond a recipe, but gave my cousin Teresa a tangible link to who her grandmother really was – a woman who loved to bake. Thank you again so much!

    • June 6, 2017 at 6:21 pm #

      You are so welcome, Donna! I was so happy to help out Teresa and am thrilled for her to find links to her heritage.

  12. December 30, 2019 at 6:36 am #

    To Teresa and Donna —
    The Dilly Bread from the 12th bakeoff has been a favorite in our family for years. I was looking up info about that bakeoff this weekend (how I found this blog) and I happened to see the booklet with all tge recipes is for sale on Amazon — only $5 — if you are still looking for a copy.

    • January 2, 2020 at 8:17 pm #

      Thanks for the heads up about the copy, Vanessa. The Dilly Bread has been a favorite for a long time in our family too.

  13. January 19, 2020 at 4:10 pm #

    What a treat to find this blog. I love cook books too. I’ve given up land-animal flesh for both ethical and health reasons, but I do eat some fish and seafood.

    I’m 78 and remember a Pillsbury recipe that I made as a teenager and then into my child rearing years. It was called Polynesian Tuna Bake. The original recipe called for sauteing chopped onions and peppers in a bit of oil and then adding tomato sauce and tuna fish. It was flavored with soy sauce, a touch of lemon juice, and some brown sugar, salt and pepper.

    It would then be baked in a casserole dish with home made biscuits, made with Pillsbury flour of course, on top. I found that the sauce over rice made a great meal that my kids loved, so that’s what I did. Kids are grown and have families of their own now, but I still make it for my husband and me.

    By golly, I remember Dilly Bread too.

    • January 20, 2020 at 1:15 am #

      Monica, I am so happy you found my blog too! I also remember making Bake-Off recipes when I was a teenager. I can still remember making “Great Caesar’s Toast” with a friend because we thought the name was funny! I don’t recall the tuna recipe you mentioned but will look it up. Dilly Bread is still my all-time favorite. My grandmother loved that recipe and I think of her every time I make it. I think it’s time to make a loaf this week!

  14. June 27, 2020 at 9:26 pm #

    My dad was the only male member of the 12th Annual Pillsbury Bake Off, winning for his Sub-Meringue Pie. He passed five years ago and I managed to get a copy of the cookbook of that particular bakeoff through Amazon. I was in the sixth grade and his win was included in the weekly readers of that time. Dad was an incredible cook. He loved cooking and entertaining for the holidays. He is sorely missed.

    • July 16, 2020 at 12:22 pm #

      Yvonne, what a wonderful memory for you. I love hearing from those who were former contestants or had a loved one in the contest, especially the early contests. The 12th Bake-Off book was one of my favorites. I’ll go check out your Dad’s recipe! It’s so cool that he was the only male in that contest! Thank you so much for writing.

  15. November 20, 2023 at 4:42 pm #

    This is a recipe my mother had saved, and I have also baked this bread, even today. I am so pleased to learn what contest winner this was and the year too.

    • November 20, 2023 at 10:25 pm #

      Beverly, I still make the Dilly Bread too. It’s one of my all-time favorite Bake-Off recipes. It always reminds me of my grandmother who made it often. I still remember how she would stop eating her cottage cheese for breakfast, because I knew she was saving the last of it to make the bread. Thank you for writing.

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