We’ve been following The Great Canadian Baking Show, my love and sugar baking peeps and I. Tonight is the Grand Finale. Who will win Canada’s Best Baker? I’ll be back tomorrow in this space with my final thoughts on this first season. First up, a sampling from some very keen Toronto bakers who know a thing or two around the sugar headquarters!
Who will win best baker tonight?
Robyn Stafl: Vandana.
Elizabeth Julian: Vandana. Linda was the best baker earlier on, but Vandana has risen to the challenge each week and her displays are lovely.
Joanna MacDougall: Vandana for the most creative and exciting baker. Linda if judges are looking for the most traditional. These two have been the most consistent and have a depth of serious talent (I prefer Vandana)
Mary Rolland: I think Vandana will win although I would prefer to see Linda win. She isn’t my favourite —I like Sabrina and the way she regularly credits her Nona—but I would choose Linda: in some ways her competency at mastering everything she bakes reminds me of my mother, especially when Linda said she had made tons and tons of cakes throughout the years. I thought immediately of Mom!
Favourite baked item from this inaugural season?
Robyn: Linda’s pie (simple and elegant) as well as her cranberry and pomegranate pavlova. No wonder she won star baker. A very close second – Julian’s sticky buns from Week 2 ( base of the Crackin!!)
Elizabeth:The gingerbread structures was my favourite as it showed the personality of the contestants.
Joanna: Vandana’s gingerbread tree house was pretty spectacular. She created a make-believe world with food.
Mary: I love to make cakes and any beautifully decorated cake inspires me to want to try and recreate it.
Anything you’d like to try from the show:
Robyn: James’ vegetarian tourtiere with tomato relish (pie was filled with ground almond, carrots, onions and beets, and served with a homemade tomato relish….yum!). Have yet to bake any recipes from the show but plan to take on one recipe per show… Two recipes I will NOT be making – Battenberg Cake and Fondant Fancies….
Joanna:I’d like to try making rugelach at some point and maybe a buche de noel.
Mary:I really want to try and make focaccia bread. I’ve wanted to try since the bread episode. I am also inspired to try one of the different more elaborate pavlovas.
What will you be baking for your family and friends this holiday?
Robyn: Ginger Lovers Cake, Molasses spiced snaps, Cranberry caramel shortbread and my grandmother’s gingerbread cookie recipe. Anne’s notes: HURRAH! Readers of my food memoir can find recipes for the first three in the winter section of with love and sugar.
Elizabeth:Christmas baking for me is about tradition and family. I start with my great grandmother’s (Anne Wilson Craw)recipe for Scottish shortbread made with brown sugar. She came to Canada from Scotland and shortbread was eaten all year round. When I bake I am remembering her daughter, my grandma Elizabeth Boyd Craw Uren, and her four daughters especially my mum Helen Elizabeth. I always make Christmas Cake and this year made a Genoa Cake, a recipe my Aunt Irene Langford always served at Christmas.
Joanna:Christmas cookie platter for sure. I haven’t decided yet what will follow our Christmas dinner. Maybe my butterscotch sauce and Haagen Dazs ice cream. Doesn’t look pretty but tastes pretty good. Then again how can you go too far wrong with sugar, cream and butter!
Mary: I like to bake Christmas cookies in the holidays, old family favourites that take me back in my head to my childhood where I was often given a list of cookies that I was to bake for our large family events. I also like to make traditional Christmas cake or a Yule log for a party.
Anne’s notes: I too love a delicious Yule log. There is one in my book. Check it out, readers!!!
Would you watch the show if it was renewed for a second season?
Elizabeth: The CBC made a huge mistake thinking that we would respond to a totally “Brit” show without changes and adaptions to reflect a totally different culture and tradition. Their Judges, Paul and Mary, were well known across the UK. and have great TV charisma, something that cannot be said about the Canadian judges. They didn’t think through their choices for judges, announcers or in choosing what was baked. That said I would watch it again and hope the CBC smartens up.
Joanna: I would definitely enjoy watching a second season of the show.
Mary: Where are the recipes??? They should at least include the star bakers recipes! If one of the goals is to inspire baking by the viewer then share the recipes! Also the contestants they chose are only fair and too vanilla in my humble opinion. Not whimsical or sufficiently fiery …maybe very Canadian???