Dessert first. It’s been the motto of sisters Rachel Smith and Jean Parker their whole lives. And it’s the mantra of The Baker Sisters—debuting Friday at 10 and 10:30 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada—starring Smith and Parker as they traverse North America, visiting bakeries and chowing down on all things sweet, gooey and icing-laden. As a public service announcement, it should be noted that you will hunt down anything sugary to consume after watching an episode of The Baker Sisters.
“We tell people that, if you don’t have some baked goods in the house, you will wind up drinking the maple syrup,” Smith says. She’s not kidding. Among the confections the pair samples in Friday’s first instalment are Peanut Butter Shorties in Vancouver’s Purebread bakery, massive wedges of buttery shortbread accented with peanut butter, chocolate and crushed peanuts.
The show’s producers, Alibi Entertainment Inc., were on the lookout for a dynamic pair with baking knowledge to host a new project. The Southern Ontario siblings grew up in their mother’s tart shop helping to stuff tins before opening their own company, Maple Key Tart Co., giving them a leg up on the competition when it came to casting.
“We went in for casting, and we just had fun,” Parker says. “I think that’s the magic recipe to the show. We’re sisters and we love each other.” Now, 13 episodes later, viewers get to see what the pair experienced. Each half-hour follows the pair to a trio of bakeries around the continent, meeting employees and getting their hands dirty creating magnificent morsels that go beyond the usual chocolate chip cookie or apple pie. Key ingredients like flour, butter and sugar stay the same but what these bakers do with them is outrageous.
Amid all the treats Smith and Parker sample are butter tarts. The Canadian staple has become a business for the sisters via Maple Key Tart Co., so they’re experts on the pastry. What were their thoughts on the competition?
“It was a totally different tart,” Parker recalls. “Our tart is a less sweet tart with a firmer filling. The one I tried was super-sweet because she used corn syrup and it was crazy runny. Her pastry was more of a butter shortbread. Our tarts truly are like night and day. Hers was delicious. That’s why there are trails dedicated to butter tarts because they can be so different.”
What goes into butter tarts is the topic of hot debate too. Do you go plain (my personal favourite), or are raisins or nuts included?
“I love a good raisin,” Smith says with a laugh. “But people do not like to be surprised with the raisin.”
“I think there is a time and a place for raisins,” Parker says diplomatically. “I’m classic. I like the plain and I think those are the ones you take to a party. People are so passionate about whether raisins or even nuts should be in them.”
The Baker Sisters airs Fridays at 10 and 10:30 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada.
Image courtesy of Corus.