A local woman is competing in an American baking competition.
Janet Letendre a.k.a “GrammaBears”, from Malakwa, B.C. is the only Canadian competing on the Holiday Baking Championship, an American show on the Food Network.
According to the show’s website, it follows 10 amateur bakers as they show off their family traditions and superb baking skills, with two challenges each episode. Each week, one baker leaves and another is crowned the winner of that episode. After eight episodes, the last one standing will win $25,000.
Each week, the bakers must prove their abilities in front of the judges: Duff Goldman, Nancy Fuller and Lorraine Pascale. The host is former NFL quarterback, Jesse Palmer.
In episode one, the first challenge was an edible place card and a one-bite signature dessert. Letendre made a gingerbread cookie and a Nanaimo bar.
Pascale said the cookie could have been baked the tiniest bit longer. However, Fuller said the dish was “perfect” with “a mouthful of flavour”.
For the second challenge, contestants had to bake kransekake, a traditional Danish cookie tower. To start, each baker had to race to get a wreath with a desired flavour to be used in their kransekake. Letendre got lemon and made an almond lemon and cream cheese kransekake.
“My nerves. I can’t believe I’m here doing this,” said Letendre as she mixed ingredients.
“I’m so happy.”
The judges said her cookie was nice and chewy, thereby allowing her to carry on to the next week.
Kobe Doan from Boston, MA, won the episode with his “lovely” chocolate espresso kransekake. And Devon Maciver, from Claremont, CA, was sent packing for his dried apricot kransekake that was “oddly shaped” and tasted of corn.
For the first challenge in episode two, the bakers made holiday spiced desserts with assigned nut flavours.
Letendre made a smoky candied almond carrot cake with pineapple and a cream cheese icing.
While the judges thought her carrot cake was “stunning, gorgeous and moist,” they said it needed more icing and lacked her nuts.
“I’m only tasting pineapple. Call it pineapple cake,” said Goldman.
For the second challenge, the bakers had to make a tower with three uniquely decorated pies, featuring a single harvest ingredient.
Letendre made a Canadian maple pie, using a secret tip from her mom which included dabbing meringue around the pie crust edges to add an extra layer of crunch and flavour.
The judges said they loved her creativity as each pie was differently decorated.
“I love the simplicity. It’s honest,” said Pascale.
Another judge, Goldman, said the crust was amazing.
In response, Letendre said, “Go Canada! Give er, eh!”
As she left the kitchen after judging, Pascale said there is never a dull moment on the show when Letendre is around.
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That episode, Melissa Yanc, from Healdsburg, CA won with her plum fruit pie with malted milk whipped cream that the judges said had a “pie crust that is so unbelievably flaky” and caused Judge Fuller to raise her eyebrows with enthusiasm and approval.
It was time to say goodbye to Maria Short from Hilo, HI. Her macadamia nut ginger pie with ginger whipped cream according to the judges was “not a looker”. Short ran out of time and tried to pipe a holiday greeting on a still piping hot pie, causing the message to melt into a green puddle. The judges also said the pie was “gooey” and did not taste of ginger.
Short said not to be sad for her departure as she was returning home to the tropical paradise of Hawaii.
Holiday Baking Championship is on Monday nights at 6 p.m on the Food Network.