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Great Canadian Baking Show — a real showstopper

On your marks. Get set. Bake!

This is the last time Canadians will hear those words for a while. The first season of the Great Canadian Baking Show came to an end Wednesday night, with a

The first signature challenge was 24 mini mousse cakes. These cakes typically have a sponge base with layers of mousse and elegant decoration. Bakers needed to provide two different flavours, and each one choose to incorporate fresh, seasonal fruits into their creations.

Linda’s mousse cakes didn’t set properly. They all toppled over, which was a shame because she had one of the best flavour combinations (cherry-chocolate-brownie, yum!). She took the title of “ugly but delicious” away from James. Sabrina’s strawberry mousse looked gorgeous, with strawberry slices on the rim of the mousse cake. Vandana used a pistachio cookie base instead of sponge, which the judges enjoyed.

The technical challenge was a Pear Charlotte, a cake with poached pear, lady fingers, and bavarian cream. There were a lot of elements to keep track of during this challenge. The separate elements have to set and cool in the fridge before it can finally be assembled. Poor Sabrina almost lost her cream when she slipped on the floor — to the amusement of the crew. Their laughter could be heard through the camera!

A Pear Charlotte is also one of those fancy cakes that has to be flipped upside down, which means the bakers have no idea if their dessert will turn out until they lift that pan. The suspense was tangible, but each baker managed to create a successful cake. Each one was beautifully decorated, cooked throughout (a challenge with previous technicals), and perfectly flavoured. However, only one baker got the “perfection” remark from both judges — Linda. Both Vandana and Sabrina had a little trouble with the bavarian cream.

The final challenge was a three-tier wedding cake. There was no other instruction — just to make the flavours and details as elegant as possible. I have to say I was surprised there wasn’t more of an attempt to create edible decorations and detailing. Each baker used real flowers on their cake instead of making some out of sugar, chocolate, or fondant.

Each baker took a note from their personal experiences. Vandana decided to create a cake modelled after her own wedding, with golden stencilling overtop of a red fondant, creating a sari affect. Her cake was covered in flower petals and a complete bouquet of roses. Linda’s cake was also spectacular, made of six layers of carrot cake. Linda made her own fondant and pipped some beautiful details to the cake, covering it also with white roses.

Sabrina’s pink champaign cake was absolute perfection. There was champaign within the sponge cake, layered with buttercream icing and strawberry filling. A pink sparkling ribbon was wrapped around the three tiers, with pipped flowers that made the transition between tiers flawless. It was truly a thing of beauty. I also have to say that Sabrina seemed to be having the most fun during this challenge. Maybe it was the champaign?

After that, it was over. The bakers joined family, friends, and past competitors outside to find out who won star baker. The answer — drumroll please — was Sabrina! Sabrina Degni of Montreal was the youngest baker to compete on the show. At 24 years old, she is incredibly talented and willing to take criticism and learn from her mistakes. She has grown a lot in terms of technical skills, and her bakes have always been creative and unique.

Linda and Vandana did a marvellous job in the finale. To be honest, I had no idea who would win. I figured it would be the baker who made the least number of mistakes. All three of these powerhouse women were incredible, and I only hope that one day I can be half the bakers they are.

I have to say I was skeptical when I first tuned in to the Great Canadian Baking Show. As I mentioned in my first review, I was a big fan of the original Great British Bake Off. I was worried the humour wouldn’t be right or that the CBC could turn it into more of a competitive gameshow. However, I was pleasantly surprised. While the dry humour could be a bit dryer and the puns slightly less cheesy, I have to say I am in love with the Great Canadian Baking Show. The bakers, judges, and hosts all won me over in the end.

All I can say now is — I wonder what season two will be like?!