Her Internet connection might be spotty, but judge Kyla Kennaley’s connection to the home bakers on The Great Canadian Baking Show isn’t. Kennaley, who is currently overseas in London, recently chatted with us online (via a persnickety connection) to talk about the newest season of CBC’s Sunday night confection.
Returning Sunday at 8 p.m., a new batch of 10 amateur bakers descended on the show’s tent to compete in weekly baking challenges under the gaze of judges Kennaley and Bruno Feldeisen, and new hosts Alan Shane Lewis and Ann Pornel. We dished with Kyla Kennaley on Baking Show, a resurgence of baking during the pandemic and her take on a controversial classic cake.
Before we talk about The Great Canadian Baking Show, what’s it been like to see so many people starting to bake during the pandemic?
Kyla Kennaley: I love it. I love that friends that I have kept in touch with loosely on Facebook since high school are sending me direct messages saying, ‘I’m feeding my sourdough starter, what do I do next?’ I love the engagement and that it’s connecting people.
What’s your take on Alan and Ann, the new hosts on the show?
KK: In Season 3, I thought I laughed more than I ever had in my life. And this year I learned, ‘No, there is another level.’ My only exercise is laughing and it kept me slim. They are hilarious and so engaged … and Alan is so tall. [Laughs.]
I’m always blown away by what the home bakers can do, and judging by what I’ve seen of Season 4, they are at another level.
KK: It’s phenomenal how talented the home bakers are. I had the luxury of a 2,000-square foot production kitchen and everything that I needed and I look at what they are doing in their homes and it blows my mind. The competition was tighter and I think it shows. They are constantly improving.
Do all of the home bakers come in with fully-formed recipes prepared? I assume they do, but that’s never expressly said during the show.
KK: Yes, and from what I understand they have to have their own version of the recipes. That’s a very important part of the show because it’s what it’s all about, and so the team can source their ingredients.
I find the red velvet cake to be a controversial one. Some people love it, and others hate it. What camp do you fall in?
KK: Because I had a café for 10 years and it was probably one of the most popular cakes at the time, being that it was the early 2000s. What I love about the recipe—and remember that I look at everything very technically and a purist when it comes to these things—is the story. It was invented at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in the 30s when there was a shortage of ingredients and they were trying to make something impressive.
So, I think it’s apropos that, in a very difficult time, what it’s like to look around for ingredients. I’ve never, in my life, gone into a grocery store like I have this year and said, ‘Oh my gosh, there is no baking soda!’
Flavour-wise, I’m a lemon girl. Give me a lemon cake any day!
The Great Canadian Baking Show airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on CBC.
Image courtesy of CBC.