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The Secret Ingredient

Mar 20 2015

by Laura Clement Disque

The winner's badge of honor
The winner’s badge of honor

My 9-year old daughter and I have fallen for an unlikely band of bakers. Spurred on by our love of lemon poppy seed muffins and British accents, we have found ourselves drawn into the Great British Baking Show on PBS. Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the judges and Britain’s foremost authorities on crust and crumb, have opened our eyes to a whole new world of wholesome entertainment. The competition pits amateur bakers against each other in a weekly competition of technical skill and culinary creativity. Now, on any given Saturday, you’ll find Caroline and I in the kitchen, staging our own cooking competition and vying for the title of Star Baker.

On your mark!

Get set!

Bake!

Each week we decide on a theme, throw on our aprons and battle it out in the kitchen. The competition is fierce, the trash-talking is comical and the lessons are real. From Girl Scout cookie creations to cupcakes and pies, we are having a blast brainstorming on flavor combinations, shopping for ingredients, practicing our piping skills and generally making a giant mess in the kitchen.

We have learned some interesting lessons: An entire sleeve of Thin Mints will overpower a batch of brownies, there is a reason you don’t see angel food cupcakes and presentation really does matter! It’s absolutely adorable to see the concentration on Caroline’s face as she pulls out her kid-friendly chopsticks to carefully place each shred of coconut atop the vanilla icing on a cupcake.

Piped white chocolate angels and individually applied shreds of coconut adorn these tasty cupcakes
Piped white chocolate angels and individually applied shreds of coconut adorn these tasty cupcakes

We have a big week ahead. Caroline has decided we will try our hand at croissants. She has her heart set on pain au chocolat and I am thinking salted caramel. Do I know the first thing about making a croissant from scratch? Nope. Is there a chance our creations will be deemed inedible by our distinguished judges? Sure. But this competition isn’t so much about perfection as it is about cooking up some memories that will last long after the crumbs are gone.

So while my husband – the one constant on our judging panel – tells anyone who will listen that each week he is the real winner here, I see things differently.  Regardless of who claims the Star Baker title in the end, my girl and I are having so much fun sharing ideas and spending time in the kitchen.  What I leave this competition with is truly priceless!

 

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