Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a batch

Scarlet EmpressWhen a couple shares a passionate, competitive hobby, it either brings them closer or pushes them apart. Luckily, doctors Chris Taylor and Paul Arguin fall into the former camp. The pair met through a mutual friend who knew that each of them loved to bake. From their first date in 2009 through today, they've baked together, and you can often find them competing - in separate categories - in the amateur baking circuit.

Drs. Taylor and Arguin aren't content to just enter contests, they are intent on winning them. Recently Dr. Taylor bested the amateur division of the American Pie Council Championship in Florida. Last year, the pair had a combined total of 58 entries in the Georgia National Fair, where they each took home several ribbons. 

When the two were introduced and were deciding what to do on their first date (which was by telephone), they hatched a novel plan. They thought it might be fun to cook together, each in his own kitchen. They worked through the Scarlet Empress recipe from Rose Levy Berenbaum's The Cake Bible. The cake (pictured above, and made by yours truly, not the talented doctors) has several components, including a jelly roll and Bavarian cream. This was before live streaming became an everyday occurence, and the doctors spent hours on the phone.  They've been together ever since, and married in 2014. 

Their home provides a few clues about their shared passion. An impressive collection of Nordic Ware pans adorns the great room, and a painting of two cakes hangs over the fireplace. They also have what they call a "cookie studio", and their downstairs contains additional baking equipment, along with a wall of award ribbons from the many contests they have entered. 

The creations that the pair enters into baking competitions are creative in both appearance and taste. The award-winning pie at the National Pie Council competition was a deep-dish checkerboard peanut butter pie with crunchy bits of pretzel. If you are feeling adventurous, you can find the recipe at piecouncil.org. The bakers have learned a few tricks over the years that help them maintain their winning ways. While flavor and appearance are paramount, the names of the confections also matter. "It can't just be a sweet potato pie," says Dr. Taylor. "It has to be Aunt Pam's sweet potato pie. I started making up relatives a few years ago," he confesses. 

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