It’s halfway on the Holiday Baking Championship and a Malakwa woman is still whisking away.
Janet Letendre – a.k.a “GrammaBears” – is the only Canadian competing on the Holiday Baking Championship, an American show on the Food Network.
Letendre said she learned to bake from her mother, who is blind. Letendre’s earliest memories are standing on a stool next to the kitchen counter, helping her mother bake and reading her recipes.
“I loved the feel of dough in my fingers.”
Letendre has her own business called Gramma Bears Cakery. One day, she had an Instagram message on a yule log photo that read “Your baking is awesome! I just messaged you about a really fun baking opportunity! Message me when you can!”
“I thought it was a joke or a scam so I ignored it,” said Letendre.
They later chatted on the phone and Letendre was asked to be on the show.
“Next thing I knew I had plane tickets in my email and was flying to the U.S.”
She said everyone on the show were wonderful and kind.
“They treated me like a queen, I had so much fun even under all the stress of baking.”
Letendre has a reputation on the show for being cheerful, love able and entertaining.
For the first challenge in episode three, the contestants made apple cider donuts.
Letendre made baked apple cider spiced rum glazed donuts, decorated with almonds in the shape of pine cones.
“It’s classy, elegant and not at all me,” said Letendre with a laugh.
While the judges loved the decorations, they were not moved by flavour.
“You’re bursting with personality and I want these to burst with flavour, but they’re not,” said Lorraine Pascale, one of the judges.
For the next challenge, the bakers made a thanksgiving roll cake with a baked-in design.
Letendre made an almond roll cake with buttercream and suzette sauce.
And the judges loved it.
“She’s a keeper,” said Nancy Fuller, pointing to the cake.
“It has a wonderful citrus flavour.”
“What a colourful, beautiful roll cake,” said Pascale.
Yet, Duff Goldman said the buttercream was overwhelming.
“I just can’t please you all,” said Letendre with exasperation.
Contestant Kobe Doan was sent home for his coffee chocolate cake with hazelnut buttercream and pecan pie filling. His design didn’t pop and the cake was flat.
In the first challenge for episode four, the bakers made mini brie and jam pies.
Letendre whipped up a cardamon apple brie mini pie.
However, the judges got sticky over her jam.
“It doesn’t really look like jam. It looks like a pile of apples,” said Goldman.
The bakers had to make a holiday dessert with one prepared ingredient, such as yellow cake mix or cookie dough for the second challenge.
Letendre got cookie butter.
Since the butter tasted like a holiday cookie, Letendre decided to make a coffee cake with cookie butter frosting and cranberry glaze.
“I hope it’s not too simple. I don’t want to go home.”
“It’s OK,” said Fuller, while tasting it. “It’s all one-note.”
Duffman furthered the cake lacked streusel.
For that, Letendre was placed in the bottom two with a chance of being sent home.
“This is the Holiday Baking Championship and you didn’t even put streusel on the top,” said Jesse Palmer, the show’s host.
Letendre said she forgot.
Regardless, Cedrick Simpson was sent home over his sweet potato pie with cake mix crust, cranberry gelée and brown sugar meringue. The judges said his meringue was loose, the cranberries bland and the cake burnt.
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The hardest thing to do is compete against people you love!! Love you Cedric!!! @cedrick_simpson ❤ You have to come to canada and play in the snow with me. Miss you!! #holidaybakingchampionship @foodnetwork #shuswap #sicamous #revelstokebc #thompsonokanagan #kelowna #kamloopsbc #okanagan #canada #bccanada #bc #malakwa #friendsforlife❤️ #familyphotos
Holiday Baking Championship is on Monday nights at 6 p.m on the Food Network.
After eight episodes, the last one standing will win $25,000.