When I called Elizabeth Meijer in Danbury, Conn., and said ''I understand you won the Pillsbury Bake-Off this year'' she replied, ''I did. I did. I did.''
It all started when she opened a package of Pillsbury flour one day and found an entry blank for the contest. For 15 years she has been making a favorite Dutch cookie recipe at Christmas to give away to friends. The recipe was originally in a Dutch cookbook printed in 1910, but the ingredients were listed in grams, and there were no instructions for the size baking pan, the temperature of the oven, or the length of baking time.
Over the years Mrs. Meijer experimented with the recipe until she was satisfied with her results. For many years she baked 3 at a time in 8-inch springform pans and made 36 to give away as Christmas gifts.
A recipe couldn't be more ''tried and true,'' and couldn't be a better candidate for a baking contest. But Mrs. Meijer thought the cake would look more impressive for the contest in a 10-inch pan, so her experiments resumed. She developed a new recipe and sent it to Pillsbury. When she was chosen one of the 100 finalists, the excitement grew.
Mrs. Meijer describes her time in San Antonio at the bake-off as ''delightful from beginning to end. I enjoyed every minute of it. There was a cozy, homey atmosphere, and no sense of competition among the women.
''I felt comfortable when I was baking - after all, I had made the recipe enough times before. Instead of making two of the cookie-cakes, one for Pillsbury to photograph, and one for the judges to taste, I made three. The last one turned out to be the best, I thought, so that was the one I gave to the judges.''
Mrs. Meijer has accepted her instant fame and fortune calmly. Of the $40,000 in prize money she has set aside $9,000 for the Internal Revenue Service and has invested the remainder. She emphasizes that this was her first and last contest, and now her life will return to its normal schedule. Mrs. Meijer is a Christian Science practitioner.
Here is Mrs. Meijer's $40,000 prize-winning recipe, a rich, buttery delicacy to serve thinly sliced. Almond Filled Cookie Cake
Crust: 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour 1 1/3 cups sugar 1 1/3 cups unsalted butter or margarine 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 egg Filling: 1 cup grated or finely chopped almonds 1/2 cup sugar 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel 1 egg, slightly beaten 2 whole almonds or maraschino cherries, halved
Heat oven to 320 degrees F. Grease 10 or 9-inch springform pan. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. In large bowl, blend all crust ingredients at lowest speed until dough forms. Chill, if desired. Divide dough in half; spread half in bottom of prepared pan.
In small bowl, blend all filling ingredients except whole almonds or cherries; spread over crust to within 1/2 inch of sides of pan. Between waxed paper, press remaining dough to 10 or 9-inch circle. Remove top layer of waxed paper; place dough over filling. Remove waxed paper; press dough into place. Garnish with almond or maraschino cherry halves.
Bake at 320 degrees F. for 45 to 55 minutes or until light golden brown. Place foil on rack below pan during baking to guard against spillage. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan. Cool completely. Makes 24 to 32 servings.