Well hello! I decided I needed more baking and soothing reality shows in my life, so of course I found the Great Canadian Baking Show! A friend has been suggesting this show for ages because of my love for the Great British Bake Off, as a Canadian there is not one reason to not recap it. Not one! Let's roll into GCBS S2:E01 after the break!
Hahhhahhaha nobody told me Dan Levy was hosting the Great Canadian Baking Show, what?? I love him! NO I don't watch Schitt's Creek and that's fine and we all have choices and maybe people should stop asking me. He was in Degrassi and I will not be taking any questions at this time.
Dan's (we're on a first name basis) co-host is Julia Chan whom I do not know. I'm sorry. Our judges are Rochelle Adonis and Bruno Feldeisen. I'm sure they're going to be awesome!
Hahaha I'm sorry, I'm already laughing at how Canadian the contestants are, is this how it is for English people? Devon Stolz from Regina talks with his whole tongue, it's such a Saskatchewan thing and his shirt is alllllll Moore's For Men.
We've got ten new Canadian bakers this season, and as usual we're loaded up in a couple of areas. I'm going to amuse myself by explaining the geographical layout of our contestants, you can skip this if you aren't into niche topics delivered with a lot of misplaced enthusiasm. 4, count em, 4 bakers are from my area, central Alberta near or at Edmonton. We've got one lone fella from the Prairies, a Caper (nicest people I ever met, same with Saskatchewan), a mainland Maritimer, an outlier from Vancouver and everyone else is from Ontario. That really is a massive showing from Alberta, I would have expected at least one person from Quebec and more from Ontario. Those are the really populous provinces, Alberta is less than a third of Ontario and has barely half of Quebec's population.
See? Wasn't that fun? Now let's talk about Canadian politics and how those populations decide who... I'M KIDDING!
Ahhhhh I love that they have Canadian-ized the credits! We get our usual start with raspberries and cut fruit but then Nanaimo Bars, Butter Tarts and a Bundt Cake with maple glaze! I love it! I once made three types of Nanaimo Bars for Christmas presents for everyone because my sister loved coconut and that was all I could come up with. I used to make butter tarts for all potlucks because they are super fast to make from scratch and people loooove them. Except me, I hate butter tarts.
I've just realised this is definitely going to be a longer recap that usual. You might want to take breaks to stretch your legs and grab a bottle of water.
The GCBS tent is located at the EP Taylor Estate in North Toronto (you don't want to know how long I spent trying to find confirmation that it's Toronto, not North York), it's...slightly more rustic than the other but it works!
Dan and Julia introduce our judges and our first Signature Challenge of the season and Cake Week: an upside down fruit cake! Those are truly awful.
Bruno explains the three crucial components in an adorable French accent, they are:
- The flip must be good. Don't drop your cake!
- Choose good fruit
- Fruit/cake ratio
Someone from Production must be wandering around asking bakers about their emotions, we're ranging from hippy dippy to stressed. Cake is the true test of a baker, Rochelle Adonis thinks.
Ann Marie Whitten from Pickering, ON, is a newlywed working with figs. I absolutely adore what figs look like inside, but I couldn't pick them out from a culinary lineup once they're incorporated.
Wendy McIssac is our Caper, from Cape Breton, Prince Edward Island where some of the nicest people ever are from. She's rocking the red hair of Our Lady Of The Green Gables and is harking back to East Coast flavours for her fruitcake.
Of course a fiddle features heavily in her intro.
Lone West Coaster Andrei Godoroja is making an intriguing pattern with rhubarb, it looks just like my bathroom floor!
Tim Chauvin is our second baker from Ontario, he runs a hardware store when he isn't carefully plating homemade candy. Respect. He's got my favourite-looking cake design so far.
Looks like a trucker, bakes like an angel.
Bakes are in the oven! Timothy Fu from Edmonton (represent!) is praying to every god that ever was or ever shall be to make his cake the best EVER.
Pear and lemon, hmmm.
Devon is a tombstone carver?? That's a THING?? Okay, he's making a mango upside down cake while he's here with us. He's very young and his hair is cut just a tiiiiiiny bit too short.
Final Ontarian Mengling Chen holds birthday parties for her puppy and that's not weird at all, you can expect an invite in your mailbox for September 12 and I will know if you read it and don't RSVP!
I am working very hard to not pre-judge Sachin Seth from Halifax, but if he had a cup of coffee in his hand, he'd be asking me where my TPS reports are, so it's a challenge. He just said chai is in the house.
Sadiya Hashmi is also from E-town, whoop whoop! I love her flavour choices.
I also love that she has an MBA, I am looking into doing something educational as well! She has a gorgeous hijab on, I'll try to get a shot.
It's almost time to flip! Are you excited??
(There is literally no way to mess this up. You stick something on the bottom then turn it over. Done.)
Ooooh lookit how Megan Stasiewich has arranged her garnishes! I like her already.
She's also out by Edmonton and raising three boys too!
Oh yikes, Timothy didn't grease his pan sufficiently and the sole pretty part of the cake is now a mess. Andrei totally phoned it in with his parquet rhubarb.
Time for judging! Riddle me this: should you be using a beige ingredient like pear, would you choose to use a beige sponge as well? Hmm, Sachin? His pears didn't carmelize, that's the problem.
Timothy's kind of looks like a mile of bad, if delicious, road, doesn't it? Rochelle says it tastes a lot better than it looks.
Out of all the cakes I saw, I like Ann Marie's the best for looks. She cries when Bruno says she should be proud in his Inspector Clouseau voice.
Now, I love pecans like almost no other, but these should be toasted, it improves the flavour 1000%. Mengling gets good feedback from Rochelle.
I've been dying to see what Tim's tastes like, he did a classic blueberry lemon mixture. I don't understand why he decorated the outside with lemon slices with their peels on, and also why Bruno is saying very, very little to anyone. His cake is small because it's undercooked and too dense.
On to Sadiya, who has also decorated with inedibles, but less so. She replaced some of the flour with pistachios, oh girl. You cannot just willy nilly replace ingredients with one another. See also: my mother.
Something terrible has happened to Wendy's cake...
Bruno just says: 'what happen?' but thankfully, it's 'ugly but delicious', thanks Rochelle!
Ooh wow, Megan's cake looks great! She gets only good feedback from the judges.
Erm, Devon, is your cake supposed to look like that or did you run out of time? That's the first thing they ask hahahaha, then onto the tasting where Bruno calls the gingerbread/mango combination wise and Rochelle says it's the best cake she's had so far. Awww!
Wow, Andrei's cake didn't get any better looking with waiting, but if there's one thing we've learned, it's that ugly can taste amazing. Bruno calls it very well executed and Rochelle, well, Rochelle has a lot to say, huh?
On to the Technical Bake Challenge, but ooooh, there's a twist! The recipe may or may not be complete! Whaaaaaaaat. That's just mean, y'all. Panic sets in.
Ah but they're making an orange chiffon cake! I know how to make those, I make lemon chiffon cakes every year for my mom for her birthday! I will totally be able to be annoying about this! They're like Angel food cakes but with less sugar. Oh. This one has to have candied citrus with peels on top of the glaze.
The tricky part is always the egg whites. Since they've your leavening agent, you have to beat them while gradually adding sugar until stiff then carefully fold them into the batter with a balloon whisk or folding spatula. You can do it with a regular spatula, but carrrreeefully, Sadiya! I don't think hers are beaten enough, or she's adding them too quickly to her batter because it's a mess up in there.
Ooh, here's her pretty hijab.
You want to mix the egg whites in slowly but thoroughly, good job, Devon! He's got it!
Everyone throws their cakes into the oven (don't grease your pan, more on that shortly) and moves to candying their fruit. Apparently cooking the peels in sugar gets rid of the bitterness and makes them edible.
Most of the cakes are baked, time to cool them in the pan. Chiffon/angel food cake pans all have a hole in the middle, so you can drape them over a bottleneck or....you can buy a pan with feet! All these pans have feet, all you have to do is flip it over: voila!
Then Ann Marie's cake falls apart because it wasn't baked, booooo.
Timothy waffles, he's not sure how to cool his cake in the pan and Dan can't help him.
The consistency of the glaze is off across the board, except for Mengling's, but she's chosen to make stripes instead of a glaze because OKAY. Tim, you're having a bad day but you wouldn't be here if you didn't bake like a champ fella, you got this!
Time for judging!
Devon does well, save for his invisible glaze.
Hoo boy, Megan.
Sorry, I couldn't bring myself to do them all, but here's the stripy perfect glaze I was talking about from Mengling.
From worst to least worst:
- 10th place - Timothy, who served his upside down and badly un-molded
- 9th place - Wendy with the bitter grapefruit peels
- 8th place - Megan, well, you saw
- 7th place - Tim had a bad day
- 6th place - Ann Marie and her boiled fruit
- 5th place - Sadiya - a solid effort with an imperfect glaze
- 4th place - Devon
- 3rd place - Andrei - one to watch
- 2nd place - Mengling
- And Sachin wins the first Technical Challenge of season 2! He says "oh boy. Oh boy" and you see what I'm talking about here?
On to the Show Stopper Challenge the following day, I can't wait to see some fancy Canadian cakes! If anyone uses maple bacon in any form, I shall burn this tent to the ground. Mention poutine, GO AHEAD.
The baketestants will be creating birthday cakes for whomeever they want, three layers minimum and at least two flavours.
It's probably wrong how excited I got when I saw the Robin Hood flour bags, they're probably a sponsor but it's just really good flour. I use probably a dozen varieties, I consider it the "good" stuff, how I imagine King Arthur flour is seen in the US. I also use "whatever I can find in whole wheat" during global pandemics and the like.
I mean, look how gorgeous Wendy's cake looks? We all knew Anne of Green Gables was gonna come up sooner rather than later. Fun fact: my grandmother wrote a biography on the author!
Andrei is getting fancy, who doesn't want a crown on their cake?
Mengling is making her own birthday cake, naked like her when she was born. Was she also green...?
Ann Marie borrows butter from Devon, she's remaking her Whiskey Cake. I don't honestly know about that much booze in a cake, but I like the pretzel/chocolate combination.
(I HAVE THE SAME METAL BOWLS SQUEEE!!!!)
Dan drinks whiskey out of a measuring cup with a pretzel chaser because he's awesome.
I'm getting a little giddy looking at all the butter being slung around, I bet it smells like Valhalla in that tent. On to Sadiya's surprise cake, do they share recipes on this show? Asking for a friend who has little boys who would love Smarties pouring out of the centre of a birthday cake.
Devon's also making a green cake like Mengling, but his is for his fiancé to remember their trip to Japan.
It's like...super green.
Timothy is baking a dead phoenix cake. For real, not of a phoenix rising, but rather celebrating the moment when a phoenix died, before rebirth. Okay!
Thank you, Timothy, you also just demonstrated proper Canadian speech patterns. We've got upspeak, we've got sentences that end in a 'hey' but rarely if never 'eh' to indicate a question, everything but confidence.
*Canadians do not put 'eh' and the end of every sentence, no matter where your research on Bob and Doug MacKenzie has led you, but we do often turn statements into questions with an interrogative 'hey?' at the end because GOD FORBID we don't seek consensus. I'm kidding. We're not very god-centric.
Lookit Tim's cake! He's making his own chocolate seashells!
Okay, I've made it this far without any fondant, I can't be mad. Sachin is covering his inexplicably huge birthday candles with fondant because the only thing that goes better with Rice Krispie Squares than chocolate is apparently sugared boots.
Okay, goth birthday cake it is for Megan's husband.
We're in the final assembly stage and just as I'm thinking that everything is going shockingly well for everyone, I see Sadiya pulling apart her cake layers with her hands. What happened?? Julia pats her nicely, Sadiya regroups and starts over. Okay, maybe things are falling apart everywhere, Tim's placing some truly glorious icing waves when his too-hot centre layer starts to melt the buttercream.
These are some incredibly talented bakers, all. I'm very impressed. The cakes really look like the designs and that's not always the case. Only one fondant in the whole batch!
Judging! Sachin is first with his S'mores cake that is very, very sweet.
Tim's melty cake is next, he's really not had a good couple of days but I want to see what he can do so I hope he doesn't get sent home already. Of course, I don't want anyone to go home, and this cake is raw, so.
This is amazing, right? She made this out of CAKE. It's also spectacular inside.
Although Devon's cake is dense, it's got great flavour.
Sadiya's two/three layer cake is called 'a tenacious effort' which is Canadian for "awww you tried."
Ann Marie ran into some serious issues with timing after having to start her cakes over
Mengling's cake is a triumph, inside and out.
There is some gorgeous sugarwork in Andrei's crown, this looks like a professionally made cake entirely. It tastes as good as it looks, Rochelle literally gasps when she sees the checkerboard inside.
Ah Timothy, your cake would have probably presented better coming after Ann Marie's or something. Rochelle doesn't think his elements have come together, which is Canadian for 'what the everlovin' F***, Timothy??'
This is a lot of decoration, where's the cake, Wendy?
Is that all cake? Well, not the teacup, but yes, all that lacework is icing, respect. Rochelle really likes a surprise, she gasps at this one too.
Star Baker has to be between Sachin and Mengling, but Megan's in there too. I think in the bottom we've got Tim, Timothy and even Ann Marie, so let's see what the experts think. Okay, I missed Andrei, he's in the top too.
Star Baker is: Andrei Godorja!
And going home is: Tim, aww, we knew a raw cake would go this way, but there's no doubt he's an excellent baker. Until next time!