Wednesday Winner: (Grand National) Bake-Off # 7: Ring-a-Lings

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This was the seventh try at the Bake-Off for Mrs. Henry (Bertha) Jorgensen of Portland, Oregon, and her perseverance paid off in a grand way.  With the $25,000 prize, Bertha said it would guarantee her 18-year-old son’s college education, with the remainder to be spent for a new home.  Amazing what $25,000 would buy back in 1955!  Before microphones and television cameras, opera star Helen Traubel presented the prize to Bertha, who instantly went from being a babysitter to reaching national fame.  Besides cooking, Bertha also loved to raise flowers and Chihuahua puppies.  But contest winnings were not new to Bertha.  She loved entering other kinds of contests and had already won a car, a radio, and a war bond.  The Bake-Off contest was Bertha’s first trip to New York City, where she also was able to see two of her nephews, whom she hadn’t seen in 38 years! 
Bertha with her Ring-a-Lings!
Perhaps one of Bertha’s greatest thrills after the Bake-Off came soon after her win, when Oregon’s governor presented her a citation with the Oregon State Seal at a special dinner sponsored by the Oregon-Washington Filbert Growers.  Since Ring-a-Lings contain chopped filberts, the Filbert Growers welcomed her home with a large crowd of friends and family where she was met at the airport with large signs saying, “Welcome, Mrs. Jorgensen!” The company later sponsored trips for her around the country to talk about her winning recipe. 

Bertha’s winning entry is an original roll recipe handed down by her mother. But Bertha wanted to use an Oregon product from her home state and decided to try it with filberts, which she thought added an unusual flavor not used by the general population at the time.  The nut-filled roll features a simple way to fill, cut, twist, and curl the dough so that the full flavor is tucked in every bite, and is topped with a fresh orange glaze.  The judges thought it demonstrated a simple way to produce an easy roll with a professional look.

The tradition and joy of making Bertha’s Ring-a-Lings continues to this day.  In fact, a writer from the San Francisco Bay Area, Patricia Kline, writes about desserts and baking in her blog called — “ring-a-lings!”   Patricia grew up eating and enjoying her mother’s Ring-a-Lings.  Sadly, in later years, Patricia’s mother developed Alzheimer’s disease and could not remember making her beloved rolls.  Patricia was heartbroken because her mom had been such an accomplished baker, and the disease robbed her of yet another precious memory.  Patricia says the Ring-a-Lings were her mother’s claim-to-fame in the family and the star of all celebrations and gatherings.  Even though they are more of a breakfast treat, Patricia said the Ring-a-Lings also made it to the dessert table.  The original recipe which Patricia’s mother hand printed on a note card was incomplete, so Patricia decided to do some research at her local library.  It was there she discovered that the Ring-a-Lings had been a Pillsbury Bake-Off winner.  She was thrilled to be able to make her mother’s recipe and hand it down to her own daughter.

Here are some of the other winning recipes from Bake-Off # 7:

-$1,000 Yam-Yam Honey Buns by Helen Zymalski of Miami, Florida
-$7,500 Regency Ribbon Cake by Mrs. Claude E. Hughes of Orange, Virginia
-$2,000 Apricot Gooey Cake by Junior winner La Vonn Jost of Stringtown, Oklahoma
-$1,000 Family Treat Cake by Mrs. Morris Avery of Greybull, Wyoming
-$2,500 Apple “Dimplings” by Mrs. Nicholas Suciu of Otter Lake, Michigan
-$1,000 My Mother’s Pudding by Junior winner Martha Parkison of Encampment, Wyoming
-$1,000 Lucky Stars by Mrs. Louis Ganssle of Glen Ridge, New Jersey
-$1,000 Hawaiian Chocolate Pie by Mrs. Don W. Edwards from Lincoln, Nebraska
-$3,000 Pieburgers by Junior winner Karen Kay Folkmier from Battle Creek, Michigan

To read more about the Pillsbury Bake-Off go to:
To find the Ring-a-Ling recipe go to:

To read all my previous blogs of past Bake-Off’s:

Bake-Off #1:  
Bake-Off #2:  
Bake-Off #3:
Bake-Off #4:
Bake-Off #5: 
Bake-Off #6

Bake-Off food photos are taken by my daughter, Kristina Vanni. Check out Kristina’s blog at:

To read Patricia’s “Ring-a-Ling” blog and twitter go to:


16 Responses to Wednesday Winner: (Grand National) Bake-Off # 7: Ring-a-Lings

  1. June 29, 2011 at 7:21 am #

    Your version looks so professional. Have to go look up “filberts” as I don’t believe I have ever seen them. It is amazing how winning at the bake-off changes lives

  2. June 29, 2011 at 8:16 am #

    What a great story! I love your Pillsbury post Debbie! (I wonder how old Bertha was when she won?)

    • July 17, 2017 at 10:08 pm #

      Bertha died in 1988, at the age of 90. She would have been 57 in 1955.

      • July 19, 2017 at 10:10 am #

        Jamison, thank you for that information!

  3. June 29, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    Thanks so much, Lynne! I don’t know Bertha’s age, but she had an 18-year-old son at the time of her win. It sounded like she had the time of her life at this Bake-Off!

  4. June 29, 2011 at 10:39 am #

    Filberts are hazelnuts. I have no idea why they have two names! I think hazelnut sounds more appetizing. Filbert sounds like it might not even be a nut! Nowadays, I think you see hazelnut used most of the time in recipes. Whatever the name, they are wonderful!

  5. June 29, 2011 at 10:44 am #

    Thanks, Lisa! I think Pillsbury liked the recipe because the rolls turn out so beautiful and professional looking, yet so easy for anyone to prepare!

  6. June 29, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

    Wow-filberts and hazelnuts are one in the same–not to be outdone-it is a his & her thing-Phil and Hazel (LOL)

  7. June 29, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

    Don’t we have a goofy Uncle Flibert somewhere in the family tree? I hear he was nuts… 🙂

  8. June 29, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

    Yes, Kristina. He fell out of a tree and hit his head. 😉

  9. June 29, 2011 at 5:50 pm #

    Love it, Lisa! Phil and Hazel must be twins. It sounds like one of those combined Hollywood celebrity names.

  10. April 1, 2015 at 2:35 pm #

    Thanks for this wonderful expansion to the Bertha Jorgensen story. I knew about half of it, being the family baker of “Ring-a-Lings” now. They are our super special twice a year treat (Christmas and Easter.) I learned to make them from my husband, who learned to make them from his mom who started making them for her family soon after Bertha won the big prize! They still knock people’s socks off to this day. They are so labor intensive, but so worth it. They’re rising even as we speak!
    Just an aside: I didn’t even know they were called ring a lings for a few years, as the family always calls them “Orange Rolls.”
    Thanks again! Your post was delightful.

    • April 1, 2015 at 3:44 pm #

      Thank you for writing, Michele! I love hearing from the families of past winners! Ring-a-Lings are so good. How wonderful that they are a Christmas and Easter tradition. I think I might just make them myself for Easter this year instead of Hot Cross Buns. Thank you for the idea! Have a happy and blessed Easter with your family.

  11. September 29, 2015 at 5:36 pm #

    Just found a clipping of this recipe in an old BHG cookbook. Thanks for the date and story!

  12. April 28, 2021 at 7:31 am #

    I Have An Authentic Copy Of The Book; How Would It Sell For?

    • May 2, 2021 at 1:32 pm #

      James, I see a wide range of prices for the old Bake-Off books. Look on eBay and other sites to get a basic idea of what people are willing to pay.

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